Quincy Jones Takes the Stand in Michael Jackson Royalties Trial

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Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones has been in the music business for 70 years, and he can’t say exactly how many works he’s composed or albums he’s produced — but he does remember distinctly the moment he discovered his passion.Wearing a gray suit, maroon shirt and black tie and vest, the 84-year-old producer told a jury that seeing a piano in an office he’d broken into with his friends changed his life. “I wanted to be a gangster until I was 11,” Jones said. But, in that moment with his fellow “baby gangsters,” he said every cell in his body told him music is what he’d do for the rest of his life.

Jones is suing MJJ Productions, a company controlled by Michael Jackson’s estate. He says he’s owed tens of millions, his share of posthumous profits resulting from the exploitation of songs he produced. The producer met the King of Pop while working on The Wiz, and went on to produce his first three solo albums, Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.

Jones considered 800 songs for Thriller, he told his attorney Mike McKool in a crowded courtroom Thursday morning. After all, finding songs is a producer’s No. 1 job. “A great song can make the worst artist in the world a star,” said Jones, adding that making music requires extreme love, respect and trust. “I’ve never in my life done a record for money or fame.”

Peppered among the questions about his producer agreements with Jackson were colorful bits of music history. (Vincent Price recorded his “Thriller” monologue in just two takes.) There was also a surprising amount of jokes. When McKool asked if Jones could see Jackson’s signature on one of the exhibits, the producer quipped, “Ray Charles could see that.”

The mood shifted when Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman began his cross-examination by asking whether Jones realized he’s effectively suing the artist himself. “I’m not suing Michael,” Jones said pointedly. “I’m suing y’all.”



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