Legendary music producer Quincy Jones has worked with countless music icons over his many decades in the music business. However, he recently revealed that he wouldn't have worked with Elvis Presley, claiming the "King of Rock and Roll" was "a racist." Jones sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, to discuss his long and acclaimed career, with the conversation eventually turning toward Presley by way of Michael Jackson.
While speaking about filming The Wiz — a 1978 reimagining of The Wizard of Oz, which Jones helped adapt and Jackson starred in — Jones said, "[Jackson] was doing some Elvis copying, too. 'The King of Pop,' man. Come on!" After being asked if he had ever worked with Presley, Jones firmly stated: "No. I wouldn't work with him." The interview pressed for more context, and 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..."
The musical maestro inaugurates the THR Icon series with his famously candid takes on Hollywood racism and drug use, his formidable exes and his Silicon Valley pals: “Richard Branson and Paul Allen and Elon are trying to get me to go with them to space” https://t.co/LqWjugukYu— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 20, 2021
Jones cut himself off here, saying, "I'm going to shut up now." He then added, "But every time I saw Elvis, he was being coached by ['Don't Be Cruel' songwriter] Otis Blackwell, telling him how to sing." Notably, THR reported that in 1987 Blackwell did an interview with David Letterman and stated that he had never met Presley.
Jones not only called out Presley, but also author Truman Capote, who he claims was not happy that the musical master would be working on the film adaptation of Capote's book, In Cold Blood. "[Truman Capote] 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."
In addition to his comments about Presley and Capote, Jones also offered his take on the mass protesting that was sparked in 2020, following the death of George Floyd. "It's been coming a long time, man," he said. "People have been turning their heads the other way, but it's all the same to me — misogyny, racism. You have to be taught how to hate somebody. It doesn't come naturally, I don't think. I don't think so, unless you've been trained. I just think it's such a bad habit."