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The Beatles Were ‘the Worst Musicians in the World,’ Quincy Jones Says


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The Flowers In The Dirt tour ran from 1989 - 1990. I saw him on opening night in LA at the Forum - it was 11-23-89 - Thanksgiving evening.

 

89 then. I don't remember if I saw him opening night or one of following shows. I probably would remember had it been Thanksgiving. But it was electric, nonetheless. "Sgt Pepper" was, what...like 4-5 songs into the set after a couple of Wings hits and new tunes*? The feeling in the building at that moment was crazy.

 

Saw him on the following tour a couple of years later in Vegas, and it was very good, but wasn't the same as hearing him pull out some of those Beatles classic for the first time.

 

 

The funny thing happened about a year later. It was Christmas 1990, and I was at my aunt's house. Someone had given me the Tripping The Live Fantastic CDs for Christmas and one of my cousins asked if it would be okay to spin it, which of course I said "sure" to... and as we're all hanging out and talking, it's playing in the background. And when Sgt Pepper came on, within three seconds of it starting, I said "that was recorded the night I was there." No one believed me at first, but I knew I had heard it before. Upon checking the liner notes, sure enough - it was recorded on 11-23-89 - the night I was there. I had only heard it once - a year previously - but could identify it with 100% certainty over a year later after only hearing a few seconds of the playback. :0

 

 

You've got quite the ear!

 

*edit. I see the running track order for "Tripping" has "Pepper" as the 15th track? Either that running order is way different from the concert, or my memory has created a different show. lol. Either is possible, of course.

 

**further edit. Looking at the running list for the tour, it seems "Got To Get You Into My Life" was the first Beatles song he did early in the show and "Pepper" was about halfway through. My brain has flipped or combined the two over the years. lol. Oh well. Both the show I attended and the one I remember were AWESOME!

 

The human brain is a funny thing indeed.

Edited by Vito Corleone
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You've got quite the ear!

 

I was blessed with pretty darn good ears. And unlike technique, it's something I really can't take much credit for since I never really had to work on it - I was born with it - I have had perfect pitch and great auditory recall for as long as I can remember. :0 It's almost like a photographic memory, except for the ears. :lol: Even before I started playing music myself, or even knew what perfect pitch or "keys" were, I knew people weren't singing something "right" when they sang something in a different key than the recorded version.

 

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The feeling in the building at that moment was crazy.

 

 

That, by definition (in my book), is musicianship.

 

I believe the role of the musician is to use music to connect the listener(s) to The Divine (an individual or group spiritual and/or emotional experience that may or may not have an intelectual element to it).

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That, by definition (in my book), is musicianship.

 

I believe the role of the musician is to use music to connect the listener(s) to The Divine (an individual or group spiritual and/or emotional experience that may or may not have an intelectual element to it).

 

In that context, it was as much at about live "performance" as musicianship. As I recall it (which is obviously suspect...lol) the moment was enhanced greatly by the lights coming down, there being just enough pause in the action for everyone to start wondering what was going to come next, and THEN the band kicks into those first chords. All of which was performed by stellar musicians. There's no way the Beatles could have pulled that off the same way in 1967 and made it sound pretty much EXACTLY like the record the way McCartney's band did. And I would imagine that Paul would have been the first to acknowledge that all those other players far exceeded his instrumental skills (well, other than Linda, of course). Which is likely why he hired them. He could have toured with Ringo I imagine. And that would have been special in its own way, of course. But from a purely instrumental performance standpoint? Chris Whitten locked it all down much better than Ringo ever could have.

 

"Music" is a pretty broad art form. And when you start talking about acts like The Beatles or McCartney who are trying to combine songwriting, lyrics, instrument playing, recording in the studio and live performance, then yeah---it's definitely apples and oranges from looking at from just any one of those disciplines.

 

Prior to The Beatles, singer/songwriter/performance all-in-one acts were limited to blues/country/folk artists. They were the precursors to rock, much more so than the other spectrum of classical and showtunes where composers, lyricists, instrumentalists and vocalists were almost always four separate disciplines. One of the primary contributions of The Beatles was being one of the first acts to take being a rock band from the more primitive confines of the blues/country/folk type songs and performance and elevating it with songwriting skills that matched the top dedicated composers and lyricists of the day. Without them, I suppose we might have gotten from "That'll Be The Day" to "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 20 years regardless, but maybe not.

 

But the rock band era marked a HUGE shift in how music was written, recorded and performed. I can only imagine the shockwaves and even horror it sent through so many players and arrangers and producers who previously saw music as something you had to study and practice for years in order to be considered good enough to make a profession of it. And then their jobs were suddenly endangered by kids who figured out how to finger a few simple chord patterns on a guitar?

 

I dunno. I just find it odd sometimes that the same people who often rail on about the current state of modern popular music and the skill levels of the current crop of pop stars don't see the parallels.

 

Edited by Vito Corleone
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...he really is a natural showman, and you can tell he's having a blast onstage.

 

 

If it had been up to Macca the Beatles would have never quit touring. He's very comfortable on stage.

 

That said, he was the least compelling to watch of the four, to my eye.

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If it had been up to Macca the Beatles would have never quit touring. He's very comfortable on stage.

 

That said, he was the least compelling to watch of the four, to my eye.

 

Really?

 

Why is that?

 

George always seemed rather uncomfortable onstage to me, especially in later years. Ringo always looked like he was having fun, as did Paul. John seemed somewhere in the middle to me... sometimes enjoying himself, other times seeming distant or like his mind was somewhere else.

 

 

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Quincy has earned my respect over the decades.

Me too, but he has lost it all. He's not just a horse's ass, he's clearly lost his mind. Unless you really think Marlon Brando had sex with Richard Pryor (yes, he said that)...or that this makes any sense:

 

Jones had plenty to say on Michael Jackson. Jones — who famously produced many of Michael Jackson's albums, including 1982's record-shattering "Thriller" — described his late pal as a "Machiavellian" and "greedy" man who swiped tracks from other artists without credit.

Jones, 84, cited "Billie Jean" as an example, and said the riff came straight from the 1982 Donna Summer track "State of Independence,"

That's not just mean, it's laughably stupid, since the 2 songs are quite different and there's no "riff" in that song (a cover Summer did, notice no credit given to the actual composers) that resembles "Billie Jean."

 

Even more ridiculous, McCartney "the worst bass player he ever heard?" LOL - get your ears checked dip####. What a moron.

 

Sounds like a bitter old man who's glory years are LONG gone and can't handle it, so he has to be a nasty butthole just to get attention (not unlike Spike Lee was doing for awhile).

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I feel it can be just another dark PR move

 

I suppose it's possible, but to what end? Quincy isn't pushing a new album or anything like that - at least not that I'm aware of, and even if he was, he's a big enough name that he can get publicity even without generating significant controversy.

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When the Beatles first arrived, they were hardly masters of their instruments. They were a quirky little band from Liverpool that appealed to teenage girls. They weren't the worst, but hardly the best. What set them apart was their songwriting ability and willingness to learn and experiment. Songwriting was their forte, not instrumental prowess. And they got better as they grew as musicians.

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None of which explains (never mind excuses) Jones' asinine comments. He's a bitter has-been who took some cheap shots just to get attention, not unlike Spike Lee spitting on Clint Eastwood awhile back. Quite pathetic.

 

PS and oh btw Sir Paul is an underrated, not overrated, bassist.

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