Quincy Jones is one of the most acclaimed and veteran musicians in the industry. Having seen the development and modernization of the world of music, Jones even crossed paths with the legend Elvis Presley in his day.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the multi-award winning musician revealed that there was a lot of racism back in the day, and even Elvis Presley, one of the greatest stars of all time, wasn’t free from it. When faced with the question of whether Quincy had worked with the star, he strikingly said “No. I wouldn’t work with him.

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 motherf—er. I’m going to shut up now.

Quincy Jones feature on The Hollywood Reporter’s Icon series helped the subscribers of the series learn more about how the landscape of the music industry truly was. While we may live in a world that boasts being progressive to a discernable degree, racism was still a pretty big part of the industry in Quincy’s era. He revealed other points in time where he was faced with racism.

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 shvartze” 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, “Fuck you, he’s doing the score.” I did, and I got nominated for an Oscar.

On the other hand, when the brilliant mastermind was asked about his relationship with music, he became very joyous in answering the questions. When the interviewer asked him “Do you miss those days of jazz?” Jones replied:

Yeah, I just enjoyed it, man. I learned very early why God gave us two ears and one mouth, wants us to listen twice as much as we talk, or he would have given us two mouths, not two ears. There’s 12 notes that have been floating around the universe for 720 years now, and we have those same 12 notes that Brahms, Bach and Beethoven had. When I [moved to Paris in 1957 and studied with famed music theorist Nadia] Boulanger, I saw Stravinsky every day. He was with her, too.

Quincy Jones has had one of the most successful and longest-spanning career in the world. While he has been nominated in a total of 80 Grammy Awards and won a whopping 28 of them, he’s also one of the very few artists who have ever joined the EGOT club, where the minimum pre-requisite to being included in it is having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony award.

Nitish Vashishtha

Nitish Vashishtha is a freelance writer/news correspondent from India. He’s written content for companies like ScoopWhoop and Sportskeeda. He’s been writing about pop-culture, current affairs and pro-wrestling since 2017. While pursuing Master's in Mass Communication with a special interest in Advertising, his key areas of creativity lie in designing, content creation and creative storytelling as well as fictional writing. In his free time, he likes to create new riffs on his guitar, learning about whatever piques his interest, reading books ranging from philosophy to speculative sci-fi and enjoys watching anything HBO (Succession FTW).

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