Quincy Jones made headlines recently when he did a rare interview with Vulture and spilled all the tea. Jones was busy again on Wednesday when he sat down with Scott Feinberg for the most recent episode of the Awards Chatter podcast. In a wide-ranging interview, the legendary musician, composer, and producer revealed that Ray Charles got him hooked on heroin when he was 15.
Jones, who was there to talk about his upcoming biopic, Quincy, said that he met Charles in Seattle when they were teenagers. Noting that drug use “goes with bebop,” Jones explained how he first encountered heroin.
“He got me hooked for five months at 15,” he said before laying out a typical night for Seattle’s soon-to-be superstar musicians. “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 continued. “I just snuck in the line and got me a little hit.”
Jones included that when the band he played with made trips to New York, they purchased their heroin from a Harlem hustler named Detroit Red, also called Malcolm X.
While returning home one evening, he fell down five flights of stairs. Quincy Jones lost the urge to use while he was recovering and the time spent laid up kept him away from some of jazz’s most notorious drug abusers.
“The mistakes are what help you grow and learn,” he said. [If I hadn’t fallen.] I would have been in New York, where I was hanging out with Charlie Parker. I would have been a junkie forever. Bird was always high. Thank god we did it and got it over with.”
Listen to the whole interview over at The Hollywood Reporter.