In a wide-ranging interview with GQ, the legendary producer also discusses Prince, Michael Jackson, and Frank Sinatra

By Derek Lawrence
January 29, 2018 at 06:46 PM EST
Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage; Steve Jennings/WireImage

Quincy Jones has worked with many of the greatest musicians of all-time, but don’t expect him to be in the studio with Taylor Swift anytime soon.

In a wide-ranging interview with GQ, the legendary producer discussed many topics, ranging from Nelson Mandela trying to get him to touch a cheetah (“I couldn’t do it”) to buying drugs from Malcolm X. And while the 28-time Grammy winner had many fascinating anecdotes to share, at one point, the conversation shifted to which current artists he’s fans of, with Jones naming Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Drake, Mary J. Blige, Common, Jennifer Hudson, and Ludacris. This prompted interviewer Chris Heath to ask if he likes Taylor Swift, resulting in Jones giving a look described as “somewhere between disapproval and disdain.”

What’s wrong with it?

“We need more songs, man. F—ing songs, not hooks.”

Some people consider her the greatest songwriter of our age.

He laughs. “Whatever crumbles your cookie.”

What’s missing?

“Knowing what you’re doing. You know what I mean? Since I was a little kid, I’ve always heard the people that don’t wanna do the work. It takes work, man. The only place you find success before work is the dictionary, and that’s alphabetical.”

So if you were producing a record for Taylor Swift, what would you have her do?

“I’ll figure something out. Man, the song is the sh— — that’s what people don’t realize. A great song can make the worst singer in the world a star. A bad song can’t be saved by the three best singers in the world. I learned that 50 years ago.”

Plenty of people talk as though Taylor Swift has great songs.

“But they don’t know, man. They don’t know. I’ve come and gone through seven decades of this sh—. Seen all that. Seen how that works. Ignorance is no thing.”

Representatives for Swift did not immediately reply to EW’s request for comment.

Earlier in the interview, Jones admitted, “I always get in trouble” for talking too much, which is why he says his daughter calls him LL QJ (Loose Lips Quincy Jones).

He lived up to the nickname throughout, talking about coming up with Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles (“the two wildest motherf—ers on the planet”), Prince supposedly trying to run over Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley’s lack of talent (“the motherf—er couldn’t sing”), and Steven Spielberg showing him the first abandoned prototype for E.T. “They made that little monster, and he looked too much like a brother,” he shared. “That’s why the second one had blue eyes.”

Read the full GQ interview here.