It wasn’t that long ago that Quincy Jones lit up the Internet when he gave that tell-all interview to Variety. During that conversation, he said things like Michael Jackson stole music from others, and that Richard Pryor had a fling with the actor Marlon Brando.
Now the 85-year-old producer revealed something else that’ll probably get major attention: That Ray Charles got him hooked on heroin as a teenager.
Jones said both of them used to do the drug in Seattle’s be-bop scene, and it was a pretty regular occurrence back then.
“He got me hooked for five months at 15,” said Jones in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “After we finished at the Washington Social Club and a couple of other ones, we’d all go down to Jackson Street to the Elks Club. That’s where all the bebop jam sessions were. Nobody got paid. We didn’t give a damn.”
“When they finished playing, they’d go over in the corner and they had it on their thumb,” he added. “I just snuck in the line and got me a little hit.”
Jones also said he’d buy drugs from Detroit Red in New York, a local Harlem dealer who would eventually become Malcolm X. Jones revealed that he did drugs with Charlie Parker in New York as well, and the jazz legend was “always high.”
But Jones eventually kicked his heroin habit but it wasn’t by getting professional help, it happened after he fell down five flights of stairs.
After that, he was out of commission for quite some time and away from the be-bop scene and it’s many temptations. In fact, the veteran producer said if he didn’t have that fluke accident, he would’ve probably been a junkie living in New York.
“The mistakes are what help you grow and learn,” he stated. “[If I hadn’t had the accident], I would have been in New York, where I was hanging out with Charlie Parker. I would have been a junkie forever … Thank God we did it and got it over with.”
Photo Credit: Academy of Achievement