Quincy Jones Says Ray Charles Got Him Hooked On Heroine When He Was 15
With each interview Quincy Jones gives, he is sharing more and more revealing information about his upbringing into the music industry and the development of his career. Jones has received recognition not only for discovering household names like Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, and Oprah Winfrey, but he also earned over 20 Grammys, in addition to him being considered one of the 21 EGOT (Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony Award recipients).
In this new telling interview, Jones gets candid about how his role in music development came about, his relationship with Michael Jackson, his legacy, and his thoughts on music today. Check out a few excerpts below.
Meeting Ray Charles in Seattle:
Ray Charles was 17, I was 14. He taught me how to read music in braille.
Malcolm X being a drug dealer:
He was… In front of the Majestic hotel in Detroit; we used to call him ‘Detroit Red.’ [He] had his Italian suits on – that’s why when Spike Lee did Malcolm X, I said, ‘Malcolm couldn’t walk around the Blue Zoot’s marching down the street, he’s a dope dealer.’
How he got hooked on heroin,
He [Ray Charles] got me hooked for five months, at 15. After we’d finish the Washington Social club and a couple of other ones, we’d all go down to Jackson street to the Elks club. When they’d finish playing, everybody would go into a corner, Ray would let me get in the corner, and they had it on their thumb. I just snuck in a line and got me a little hit.
When he knew he needed to quit:
I fell down five flights of steps. I was just high. But that’s not good for a trumpet player. The mistakes are what help you grow and learn, and that was a big one.
Why he always made sure his work had a “social purpose”:
I was always in that. When you lose your mother, what you’re doing is looking for signs to make it better.
When he first met Michael Jackson:
Smelly. His mother thought I said he smelled bad. We used to get him try say funky, but he wouldn’t say that. He would say ‘Smelly Jelly.’
How he became a father figure to Michael:
Three things can do that: love, respect, and trust. If you don’t have that, nothing is going to happen. And we had both.
Why he wanted to work with him:
He’s work ethic and curiosity.
Speaking about his legacy:
I can’t drive, but I can see the talent in people before they even know they have it. I don’t know, I don’t try to explain it. I’m just getting started! I love to create, man! Retire?! If you take out the re off of that, it’s tire. I’m not tired, yet.
[I feel] lucky.
What he thinks about music today
It represents the generation, as all of them do. But you know, there’s a whole crop of young people, including Kendrick Lamar and Chance that are something else. ‘Your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being,’ so you start to work on the human being.