Quincy Jones has a history of dropping hits — having produced Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller” and countless other iconic songs. But the music legend dropped a bomb when he recently spoke to Vulture.com.
“Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs. [Donna Summer’s] ‘State of Independence’ and ‘Billie Jean.’ The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come . . . Greedy, man. Greedy.”
Michael’s family isn’t taking the comments of his mentor and longtime collaborator sitting down.
“He must have the first stages of dementia,” a family member said of the 84-year-old Jones.
Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, has a different take. He told Page Six that he believed Jones was “quite jealous of Michael because he’s never worked with someone with all of that talent.”
(Aside from Jackson, Jones has produced and worked with Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin and many others.)
He added that if there is a similarity between Michael and Summer’s songs, Jones himself is to blame.
“He says my son stole it, but he was the producer on both [‘Billie Jean’ and ‘State of Independence’], so if anybody is wrong it would be Quincy,” Jackson said, reiterating that he believed that no part of “Billie Jean”was lifted.
Another relative believes Jones has “quietly carried a vendetta” against Michael, who died in 2009, for a while.
“It goes way back, and [Jones] recently got money from Michael’s estate,” the relative said, alluding to the producer’s recent $9.4 million court victory against the late singer’s estate, recovering past unpaid royalties.
But the fallout between Michael and Jones really began more than 30 years ago, the relative said. Back then, the musical pair disagreed on whether Jones deserved a shot at a Grammy for having produced the 1982 smash-hit album “Thriller.”
“Michael did all of the work. It’s his music and everyone knows Michael’s sound — and ‘Thriller’ was all Michael Jackson,” the family source said.
So Michael allegedly went directly to Grammys officials and requested that any producer award go directly to him and not Jones — who, of course, was credited in the liner notes as the album’s producer along with Michael.
Bob Jones, Michael’s late spokesman, wrote in his 2005 memoir that “The King lobbied hard against Quincy getting that Grammy. He didn’t want to share the spotlight at all with Quincy Jones or anyone else.”
Jones ultimately received the award but he and Michael “fell out for good,” according to the family member, in 1987 after Jones arranged for Prince to duet with Michael on the song “Bad.”
“Michael kind of looked up to Quincy almost like he looked at [Motown founder] Berry Gordy,” the family member said of the once-close relationship.
“So when Quincy got Prince to agree to the song, Michael felt that it would be good only because that’s what Quincy promised. But he didn’t know that Quincy had agreed to give Prince top billing on Michael’s own song.”
The duet was then killed, although it’s unclear who did so. But the family member said that Michael “absolutely lost it” when Prince went public about the almost collaboration.
Asked in an interview why the song didn’t happen, Prince said: “The first line of that song is ‘Your butt is mine.’
“I said [to Michael], ‘Who’s gonna sing that to whom? Cause you ain’t singing that to me and I ain’t singing that to you, so right there we’ve got a problem.’ ”
The incident caused irreparable damage to Michael and Jones’ relationship. The singer’s 1991 album, “Dangerous,” would be produced by Michael with help from Teddy Riley and Bill Bottrell.
Jones did not return calls for comment.
When asked if the producer could be forgiven for his attack on Michael’s legacy, the family member didn’t hedge.
“Forgive? S – – t. Michael is not here to defend himself. The world knows that Michael was the No. 1 artist in the world, and he didn’t need to steal from anyone.”
This article originally appeared in Page Six.