Last year, Quincy Jones famously lost Michael Jackson, whom he used to call Smelly. They made three albums together – Off the Wall in 1979, Thriller in 1982, Bad in 1987 – a collaboration that changed pop for ever. “Then Michael fired me,” Jones grins. He had been pushing Jackson towards hip-hop, but the singer had doubts. “He said, ‘Quincy doesn’t understand the business any more. He doesn’t know that rap is dead.’ But it’s OK. It wasn’t so obvious then.”

Still, they were friends until the end. “I was in London when he sold out the 10 concerts, and then sold out 40 more. He called me. He wanted to bring the kids over. But I was with Mohamed Al Fayed at his place. I said, ‘I’ll see you in Los Angeles.’ And that was the last time I talked to him.”

Did you know he was in a bad way? “No, no,” he says. “There was no way to know. There’s no way anybody could be blamed for what happened. Artists of that stature – they can do whatever they want. You’d have to monitor him 24-7 to know what’s going on.” What about the number of performances? Was it too many for him to cope with? “I don’t know, man. It’s personal. So, so personal. There’s too many details. Unless you’re totally cognisant of everything, it’s hard to make a judgment.”

Source: Guardian