Story at a glance

  • Quincy Jones gave an interview for The Hollywood Reporter’s new series, “THR Icons.”
  • In it, Jones recalled instances of racism he faced during his career.
  • Jones alleged that he wouldn’t work with Elvis Presley, recalling a racist exchange.

Quincy Jones, an American music icon, got candid on his experiences with racism in Hollywood and the music industry in a new interview.

Appearing in an article in The Hollywood Reporter for its new series, “THR Icons,” Jones recalled an unsavory interaction with the “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley.

When asked if the now 88-year-old musician and producer had ever worked with Presley, Jones said, “No. I wouldn’t work with him.”


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“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,” Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. “But every time I saw Elvis, he was being coached by [“Don’t Be Cruel” songwriter] Otis Blackwell, telling him how to sing.”

Jones went on to discuss other instances of racism he battled in Hollywood over his career. 

“They called me to do Gregory Peck’s ‘Mirage’ [in 1965] and I came out here. I was dressed in my favorite suit, and the producer came out to meet me at Universal,” Jones recalled. “He stopped in his tracks—total shock—and he went back and told [music supervisor] Joe Gershenson, ‘You didn’t tell me Quincy Jones was a Negro.’ They didn’t use Black composers in films.”

Jones, whose entertainment career spans more than 70 years, has been nominated for 80 Grammy Awards and has won 28. 


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Published on May 21, 2021