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Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson's Thriller scraps and new album MICHAEL

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Yvonne Hime

Yvonne Hime


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It looks like Sony will be putting out a Michael Jackson album of unreleased songs soon…
Michael and I did our thing. Michael called me in London when they sold the concerts out. I was there and he wanted to come over and bring the kids. And I had a dinner that night and I said I’d see him in Los Angeles. I never talked to him again. It tore my heart out. I was his age when I produced him. I still cannot believe to this day that he’s not here, my little brother.

I know there are tons of songs from the Bad, Thriller, and Off the Wall sessions that were cut because they weren’t as good as the rest. Do you plan on ever releasing those?
No. That’s the reason we took them out in the first place. At the end of a record, I’d take the four that I thought were the weakest out of the other ones and try to find the four that are stronger than anything else on the album. And it always works for me. We went through 800 songs to do Thriller. That’s a lot of songs, man.

With the digital era, the record business has taken some huge hits. Do you have any solutions for the problem? How can artists get back to the days when they’d actually sell their whole album?
You’ve got to have more than one or two hit singles in there. You’ve got to have five to seven hot records in there to make it worth buying the package. I wouldn’t pay for an album either with two records in it. I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true. They put two in and ten turkeys. No, you’ve got to make that sucker pop, man. We’ve got to fix the record business. That’s all I think about now. I see the problem of over the world. I’ve been to the House of Commons and Spain and China. It is a big problem. China’s got a billion people and a hit record over there is a million records. You know that ain’t right.

You’ve worked with so many legends and tell stories about them in your new book. Who was one of you favorite people to work with?
I couldn’t pick that if I wanted to. Between Sarah, Ella and Basie and Sinatra and Ray Charles and Aretha and Tony Bennett and Michael… I can’t do it. [Laughs] They all were total individuals. And powerful individuals. Everybody had such a distinctive sound. That’s what I like, when people believe in who they are.

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Ben S

Ben S

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As a musician and producer I have nothing but respect for Quincy Jones, especially the work he did with Michael (the almost the majority it co-produced by Michael). But I know there are some that are too weak for release and should remain in the vaults, but there are also brilliant songs that deserve to be heard and should have been released in some form, as either non album singles or B-Sides. Previously unreleased songs like Sunset Driver and Got The Hots are in my opinion amazing songs, from Michael's collaboration with Quincy Jones and would have been real classics if they were released in some form in the 1980's.

As much as I respect Quincy's point of view in this interview, it is a fact that he didn't want Billie Jean on Thriller (I agree with Q that the original intro to Billie Jean was too long. The original cut is the 12" extended version), and also wanted Michael to change the name of the song incase people thought it was about the women tennis player Billie Jean King. Also Quincy didn't want Smooth Criminal on the Bad album, and he and Michael are alleged to have had real arguments over having the song on the album. Anyway the 3 albums Michael made with Quincy Jones are my favorite Michael Jackson albums, and in my opinion Michael and Quincy brought the best out of each others genius. But Michael still made songs of pure genius post Quincy Jones.

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