The Beatles were terrible and Michael Jackson stole songs, says Quincy Jones

The Beatles were terrible and Michael Jackson stole songs, says Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones, the American jazz legend and producer behind three of Michael Jackson's biggest records, has let slip his thoughts on some the world's biggest pop stars — and he has very few kind things to say.

In an unguarded interview with New York Magazine, Jones, 84, called The Beatles "no-playing motherf****ers", accused Jackson of plagiarism, and said modern pop music producers were "lazy and greedy".

He even suggested he knew the identity of US President John F Kennedy's real killer. (The mobster Sam Giancana, who allegedly helped JFK rig the 1960 election.)

Here are some of the best bits of that chat.

The Beatles were 'the worst musicians in the world'

"Paul [McCartney] was the worst bass player I ever heard," Jones told the magazine's David Marchese.

"And Ringo? Don't even talk about it."

Jones shared a story of his experience working in the studio on drummer Ringo Starr's 1970 solo album Sentimental Journey:

"I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and 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'. So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer.

"Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, 'George, 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, motherf***er because it ain't you.'

"Great guy, though."

Jackson 'stole a lot of stuff'

"He stole a lot of songs," Jones said.

He compared State of Independence, a 1982 song Jones produced for the singer Donna Summer (and on which Jackson sang backing vocals), with Jackson's hit Billie Jean.

"The notes don't lie, man," Jones said. "He was as Machiavellian as they come."

Jones also called Jackson "greedy", suggesting Greg Phillinganes, a studio musician who worked with Jackson and Jones on the singer's 1979 album Off The Wall, wrote a key part of Jackson's hit Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough but was denied royalties.

"Michael should have given him 10 per cent of the song," Jones said. "[He] wouldn't do it."

Who else did Jones bag?

Lots of people: the singer T-Pain ("he didn't pay attention to the details"), Cyndi Lauper, for her work on the Jones-produced charity record We Are The World ("she was f***ing up every take because her necklace or bracelet was rattling in the microphone") and today's pop music producers ("lazy and greedy").

In fact, he called out the general state of popular music in 2018.

"It's just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks," he said.

"Producers now are ignoring all the musical principles of the previous generations."

Did anyone escape Jones' wrath?

Yes.

The music legend had good things to say about the following people:

  • Bruno Mars
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Kendrick Lamar ("I like where Kendrick's mind is")
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sam Smith ("He's so open about being gay")
  • Mark Ronson ("Someone who knows how to produce")

The producer also commended U2's Bono on letting him stay in his castle in Ireland and suggested he once dated Ivanka Trump, the US President's daughter.

As Jones notes, and as the celebrity-gossip-heavy interview makes clear: "What a life!"