If you get the chance to interview Quincy Jones, you have been blessed by those on high. The legendary record producer has worked with the biggest names across all entertainment mediums and genres — and at 84 years old, he has the added charm of just not giving a fuck anymore. Famous people are not necessarily interesting interviews — has Justin Bieber ever said one funny thing? — but after reading Jones’ recent Vulture interview, I would pay any price for access to a podcast where he just shares fun, outrageous stories featuring the world’s most beloved pop culture figures.
In it, interviewer David Marchese focuses on Jones’s career, giving him the chance to share his matter-of-fact opinions on pop culture stretching from the Beatles to Bruno Mars. He talks shit about Ringo Starr’s drum skills (“Don’t even talk about it… great guy, though”), extols Bono’s virtues only to shake his head when asked if U2 is making good music, and firmly dismisses Oprah’s designs on a presidential run (“She doesn’t have the chops for it”).
He talks about dating Ivanka Trump, and theorizes about who killed JFK — which he also refuses to talk about on record, in case anyone is listening. He insinuates that Marlon Brando slept with James Baldwin, Richard Pryor, and Marvin Gaye, and acts annoyed that Marchese is even a little surprised by this. When asked what project of his should’ve been bigger, he replies: “What the fuck are you talking about? I’ve never had that problem. They were all big.” He says Microsoft founder Paul Allen can play guitar like Jimi Hendrix!
The Vulture piece in itself is a historical and comedic treasure trove. Combined with last week’s GQ profile-interview, it’s clear Quincy has emerged as a great interviewee in a time of contrived celebrity profile pieces. The GQ profile goes a bit more in-depth on Jones’ turbulent upbringing, before weaving in stories about turning down Marilyn Monroe, how Frank Sinatra helped him combat racism, why Taylor Swift isn’t so great, and much more. He says he can speak 26 languages, that he has 22 girlfriends, that he expects to live to 110. There’s so much, and he shares all of it. It’s like listening to stories at your grandfather’s feet if your grandfather were one of the most powerful and celebrated people in entertainment.
The world has always known Jones is a one of a kind guy, even among accomplished artists, but his latest publicity tour is revealing an enticing freedom he has that we rarely see from other celebrities. The current generation could learn from his musical chops, yes, but they could also take a lesson in how to be a fascinating profile, even if it drives their publicist insane.