Quincy Jones Refused To Work With Elvis Presley Because He Was A ‘Racist MF’
Quincy Jones is known for working with greats in the music industry. But one person he refused to collaborate with was late singer Elvis Presley.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter for its “THR Icons” series, Quincy Jones was asked if he ever worked with Elvis Presley. He said,
“No. I wouldn’t work with him.”
As for why not, Quincy Jones explained,
“I was writing for [orchestra leader] Tommy Dorsey, oh God, back then in the ’50s. And Elvis came in, and Tommy said, ‘I don’t want to play with him.’ He was a racist mother — I’m going to shut up now. But every time I saw Elvis, he was being coached by [“Don’t Be Cruel” songwriter] Otis Blackwell, telling him how to sing.”
“I’m going to shut up now. But every time I saw Elvis, he was being coached by Otis Blackwell, telling him how to sing.”
He also revealed his thoughts on Donny Osmond amid previous speculation the singer was more popular than Michael Jackson because he’s white.
“You know, I saw a play about Michael Jackson, and it argued that Donny Osmond kind of stole The Jackson 5’s act and kind of got bigger with it because he and his brothers were white. I was going to record Donny at one time, and I had nicknamed him 818 because that area code had just come out, and I said, “Motherf***er, don’t talk about [us working together]. He went on The Oprah Winfrey Show and talked about it, and I dropped it because he told her we were doing the record.”
In the interview, he also spoke on the racism he faced himself in the music industry. He recalled why he came to Hollywood in the 1960s and said,
“They called me to do Gregory Peck’s Mirage [in 1965] and I came out here. I was dressed in my favorite suit, and the producer came out to meet me at Universal. He stopped in his tracks — total shock — and he went back and told [music supervisor] Joe Gershenson, ‘You didn’t tell me Quincy Jones was a Negro.’ They didn’t use Black composers in films. They only used three-syllable Eastern European names, Bronislaw Kaper, Dimitri Tiomkin. It was very, very racist. I remember I would be at Universal walking down the hall, and the guys would say, ‘Here comes a shvartz’ in Yiddish, and I know what that means. It’s like the N-word. And Truman Capote, I did In Cold Blood, man. He called [director] Richard Brooks up, he said, ‘Richard, I can’t understand you using a Negro to write music to a film with no people of color in it.’ Richard said, ‘F*** you, he’s doing the score.’ I did, and I got nominated for an Oscar.”
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