Why Quincy Jones Says He Wouldn't Have Worked With Elvis

Quincy Jones earned his reputation as a musical icon by working with renowned artists like Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and Aretha Franklin. But, as he recently told The Hollywood Reporter, there was one singer the producer never would have collaborated with: the King himself, Elvis Presley.

Jones has never been shy about sharing his opinions on the many celebrities he's crossed paths with over the years. His 2018 Vulture interview raised eyebrows after Jones said he had dated Ivanka Trump, claimed that Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor allegedly had sex, and called the Beatles "the worst musicians in the world." As he joked to THR, his daughters called an "intervention" after the profile was released. "They called me 'LL QJ,' for "Loose Lips Quincy Jones," the producer said. "They kicked my butt. And they know how to."

Now, in this new interview, the father of Rashida Jones candidly shared his experiences with racism. In one incident, Jones described how he had been hired to write music for Gregory Peck's film "Mirage" in 1965 and flew out to get started. "I was dressed in my favorite suit, and the producer came out to meet me," the musician explained, recalling that the producer "stopped in his tracks — total shock" when he found out Jones was Black. "They didn't use Black composers in films," Jones said.

In speaking about racism, Jones also explained why he refused to work with Elvis Presley. Read on below.

Quincy Jones called Elvis 'racist'

In his May interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he shared his own thoughts on prejudice and declared that the George Floyd protests had "been coming a long time," Quincy Jones also alleged that Elvis Presley was "racist." 

After comparing Michael Jackson's star persona to Presley's, Jones was asked whether he ever collaborated with the King of Rock and Roll and gave a flat denial. "No. I wouldn't work with him," the producer told the outlet, recalling an encounter they had in the 1950s. "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 — I'm going to shut up now."

After cutting himself off, Jones went on to claim that whenever he saw Elvis, he was "being coached by [Black singer-songwriter] Otis Blackwell." He described how Blackwell, the songwriter behind "Don't Be Cruel" and "All Shook Up," was always "telling him how to sing." Despite being responsible for some of Presley's biggest hits, Blackwell actually told David Letterman in a 1987 interview that he had never met the performer.