Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the ‘machiavellian’ Michael Jackson, U2 and more
Legendary record producer Quincy Jones has described the Beatles as “the worst musicians in the world” as he recalled meeting the band for the first time during an interview to promote a new Netflix documentary and US television special.
In the new interview with New York Magazine, he discussed his first impressions of the Beatles in unsparing terms. “They were the worst musicians in the world,” he told interviewer David Marchese. “They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul [McCartney] was the worst bass player I ever heard.”
Drummer Ringo Starr came in for particular opprobrium: “And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it.”
Jones recalled arranging Love Is a Many Splendoured Thing for Starr’s 1970 debut solo album Sentimental Journey.
“Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it. We said: ‘Mate, why don’t you get some lager and lime, some shepherd’s pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.’”
In the interim, Jones called English jazz drummer Ronnie Verrell into the studio.
“Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says: ‘George [Martin], can you play it back for me one more time?’
“So George did, and Ringo says: ‘That didn’t sound so bad.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, motherfucker because it ain’t you.’ Great guy, though.”
Jones, 84, reserved praise for Eric Clapton’s Cream, the guitar skills of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Tropicália artists Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, but lamented U2’s latterday output. “I love Bono with all my heart, but there’s too much pressure on the band,” Jones said.
In the enjoyably unguarded Q&A, Jones chastised his most famous charge, the late Michael Jackson, for stealing “a lot of stuff” from other artists without paying them.
“He was as machiavellian as they come,” he said.
Jones also claimed to know the identity of JFK’s killer (Chicago mobster Sam Giancana: “We shouldn’t talk about this publicly”) and to have briefly dated Ivanka Trump 12 years ago: “She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though!” Later in the interview, Jones called Trump senior “a fucking idiot”.
Jones has won 27 Grammy awards out of 79 total nominations. Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller won eight of those awards.
Jones balked at New York Magazine’s suggestion that any of his productions had ever underperformed. “What the fuck are you talking about?” he asked Marchese. “I’ve never had that problem. They were all big.”
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