Quincy Jones: The Lost Interview

Four years ago, an unpredictably wide-ranging GQ Magazine interview with music legend Quincy Jones nearly broke the internet. At the time, GQ distributed only a portion of its conversation with the then 84-year-old music legend. Recently, a complete recording of that discussion and the interviewer’s written draft were discovered in an abandoned Queens, NY storage locker. Having verified the authenticity of the recording, we are pleased to publish the remainder of the story, which begins mid-exchange:

“…but yeah. That was pretty much why it’s named Quincy, Massachusetts.”

Do you think your talent was a divine gift or something you just developed by being around the greats from an early age?

“Aw, man. It’s most definitely a gift. You know how most cats have five senses and if one is particularly dominant, some other one fades?”

Yes

“Not me. I actually have 11 senses. I can’t tell you about the others but they have to do with air and time and whatnot, dig? But all of them are the truth. Zero fade.”

11?

“Fact. Know which is actually the strongest? My sniffer. That’s one way how all of these years I almost never forget a name. I associate a smell with the name. Like my ex, Peggy (Lipton). She smelled like Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch so Peanut/Peggy. Boom. Almost never ever forgot her name. Tell you another good one. That cat from The Untouchables.”

DeNiro?

“No. Not Bobby – he smells like a Zagnut by the way. I mean the gangster he was playing. Capone! That’s it. Now, that dude smelled like peaches.”

Wait, you knew Al Capone?

“Yeah. Crazy cat. He would sneak in and out of jail to come see me play when I was a young buck rollin’ thru the ATL. He used to hide in the prison peach delivery crate, so he was always peach-scented. Sometimes he’d weep like a baby at the gigs and then he’d crawl back in his crate, cheeks all wet and be back in his bunk before anyone knew he was gone. If I smelled him in the crowd, I’d bang an extra-tight set so he could do what he needed to do.”

A woman appears and places a platinum tray stacked high with circular deli meat on the table between us. Jones claps his hands.

 “I must be enjoying this ‘cuz this day is flying. Already PLT.”

What?

“Pimento Loaf Time.  One reason I expect to live forever is this manna. Check it out. Look at the colors. It’s like if jazz turned into meat. But, yeah, if I don’t get my loaf right at 4:47 somebody’s ass is getting fired and then I’ll probably die.”

With that, he handles a slice of the green and red speckled meat as if rolling a joint and devours it in a single bite. His eyes close for a several moments, fingers tapping along to the Rupert Holmes record that has been playing on a loop for 90 minutes. Suddenly, his eyes open-wide and, to this interviewer’s eyes, he appears five years younger than just a minute before.

 “Hell, yes! He was a sweetheart by the way.”

Al Capone was nice?

“No. He was an ass. Climbed on stage and tried to ‘rassle Pearl Bailey at one gig. Teenage girl fruity-smelling motherf—-r.  But, Oscar Meyer. Now he was good people. Couldn’t dress for shit, but good heart.”

Quincy stands and walks over to an illuminated globe situated beneath a large painting of William Devane. “Don’t even think about asking about that,” he had warned me when we entered his salon.

“This was Rand McNally’s. His grandboy gave me this. See how it isn’t perfectly round? Early on, Rand wasn’t convinced about Earth so he hedged a little. The grandboy traded it for Lisa Bonet’s home digits. That boy was crazy about some Lisa. Had to get one of those, whatchamacallits to keep him away from her.”

A restraining order?

“Naw, man. A Sig Sauer. Shit, no paper was going to keep him away. But, in his defense, this was primetime Lisa, Jack!”

As our time together nears its end, Quincy walks us past a calliope and across the tiled floor of the grand entry hall. I notice that each square of the floor illuminates when stepped upon and ask if the feature was a nod to Michael Jackson’s video for “Billie Jean.”

“Man, that video was a nod to my crib,” he chuckles while picking a pimento from his teeth with what appears to be a tiny, diamond-tipped toothpick.

The ceiling above us is painted in the style of Michelangelo but instead of The Creation of David the fresco is a multi-cultural representation of 70s celebrities sharing a hot tub. I clearly identify Redd Fox, Dick Van Patten and Freddy Prinze. A Bob Mackie-gowned Cher sits atop the shoulders of Telly Savales and chicken fights the tandem of Diahann Carroll and Alan Alda (with Alda on top).

Quincy leads me to the front door and a waiting gondola. But before we part, he pauses.

“I like you. You wanna see something ain’t no other reporter seen?”

I nod eagerly and he rolls up a pant leg to reveal two scars on the back of his right leg.

“I tell my lady friends that I got these playing Spikeball in Ibiza with Billy Gates, Dez Tutu and Mr. Bean – which did happen. But that ain’t what caused this mess.”

What did then?

“Tutu took ALL the Spikeball money. Diving all over the beach and talkin’ shit.  Big shit talker, Tutu. Annnnnyway, yeah, so remember I was telling you about Bubbles and Muscles, right? MJ’s pets.

His Chimpanzee and Boa Constrictor. One of them did that?

“Nope. This was where Eleanor got me. Teeth here and horn right there behind the knee. That one is round lookin’ like a whole note.”

Was she a goat or..

“MJ’s unicorn. Thing was a bigger asshole than Capone by the way. Okay, now I really have said too much. Look, the moat gets choppy after dark on account of the moon, dig? So, you should get while the getting is good.”

I step into the bobbing craft where a Kente cloth-cloaked boatman pushes off, singing “The Banana Boat” song. I look back to see Q, pants leg rolled up, waving a freshly rolled pimento loaf joint and bobbing along to the gondolier’s tune.

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