Tune in and turn up

The term ‘living legend’ gets thrown around a lot, but hardly anyone could dispute that Quincy Jones isn’t worthy of the title. The man behind what is still the biggest-selling album of all time (Michael Jackson’s Thriller in case you forgot) has been in the music business for over half a century, producing some of the most memorable songs and records and working with pop culture royalty along the way.

Naturally, he is a great candidate for a Reddit AMA. Jones divulges a treasure trove of trivia, from working with the aforementioned King of Pop to his friendship with Ray Charles to being a literal gangster in his youth to meeting Picasso in Paris. Here are a few of the highlights:

His favorite Michael Jackson memory

“The principals from The Wiz were rehearsing at the hotel in Brooklyn and Sydney was running through the script with them…Michael had to take little pieces of paper with sayings from great philosophers and one had Socrates on it (but he kept saying SO-CRAY-TEEZ) I said man it’s Socrates!! He said really??!! He looked like a deer in the headlights but his curiosity/innocence inspired me and that’s when I decided to work with him and produce his album. And I sure don’t have any regrets!”

On his past as a gangster

“All I saw when I grew up were dead bodies, stogies, and piles of money under the lights…and the policy racket! It was my life. Chicago in the 30’s during the Great Depression made Compton look like boys town! One day after my daddy moved my brother Lloyd and I to Seattle (when I was 11 yrs old), my brother, friends, and I broke into an armory and we ate all the lemon meringue pies in the refrigerators!”

His advice for aspiring singers

“I like to tell young singers to listen to their 10 favorite records and learn to imitate every single note that the singer is singing. Obviously, it’s the same if you’re trying to be an instrumentalist….if you can learn to imitate the best, that’s when you can start working on becoming original.”

On he and Ray Charles’ nicknames for each other

“Ray called me 70. And I called him 69. Those names came about because one day Ray told me that he didn’t want me yelling his name in public – so we made those up!”

On meeting Picasso

“We went down to the croisette one time when I was living next to him in 1957. We went down there with Eddie Barclay and Jaqueline, and Pablo and when we finished, Pablo took the bones on the Sole Meuniere and he pushed it out so the sun could dry it, and he took some pens, and made some art out of it, and used the art to pay for the meal! Picasso was a genius… and of course original and authentic. Man, he created authenticity. What a mind.”

Proudest moment of his career so far

“Stayin’ vertical every day!”

Read his full AMA right here.

In other music news, Bruce Springsteen has given a major shout out to his love of Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo.’ Get the scoop on that here.

  • Cover Image: Rich Fury / Stringer / Getty Images
Words by Jake Boyer
Music Editor
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