Legendary producer and arranger Quincy Jones has worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Michael Jackson, and he’s old enough now (almost 85!) not to give a shit about saying what, for non-legendary folks in a cutthroat, moribund industry, could be a career-ending gaffe. Various revelations from an interview published in Vulture this week include:
- Marlon Brando fucked a mailbox, and possibly Richard Pryor
- Sam Giancana killed JFK
- Ivanka Trump and Jones dated (???)
- Cyndi Lauper was a pain in the ass
- The Beatles were horrible musicians
- Jimi Hendrix was too scared to play with jazz musicians
- Elon Musk has asked Jones to go to Burning Man, more than once
But among the towering figures Jones casually cut down to size, he heaped a surprising amount of praise on an unexpected billionaire: Microsoft’s Paul Allen, who he claims “sings and plays just like Hendrix.”
Coming from anyone else this would be a bizarre and unthinkable comparison, but hey, here he is at a (Microsoft?) holiday party ripping up “Sharp Dressed Man,” and ripping a literal Hendrix solo somewhere, and playing an indistinct Warren Zevon song, and uh, 15 seconds of... something allegedly filmed at Washington State University.
Okay, so there’s a dearth of evidence to support that Allen is the second coming of Jimi Hendrix, but just enough to confidently state the Microsoft co-founder is highly competent with a guitar. His band’s album from 2013 is... well, it’s not really my thing, but it’s a revelation next to projects from comparably famous people not known primarily for music (For instance: Bruce Willis, Hulk Hogan, Steven Seagal.)
Here’s Allen playing with a whole slew of people famous exclusively for playing music, including Ringo Starr, about which Quincy Jones said:
I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it. We said, “Mate, why don’t you get some lager and lime, some shepherd’s pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.” So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer. Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, “George, can you play it back for me one more time?” So George did, and Ringo says, “That didn’t sound so bad.” And I said, “Yeah, motherfucker because it ain’t you.” Great guy, though.
Take from this contrast what you will.
Allen shreds at 4:50: