I guess you're supposed to be the one to slow it down.

"Never. 'Cause I don't think like that.…I stopped drinking two years ago. Because I had diabetes 2. And it's the best thing I ever did. My mind's so clear now, you know. And the curiosity's at an all-time high."

Do you wish you'd done it sooner?

"Yeah, but I came up with Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, man. I didn't have a chance. Seven double Jack Daniel's an hour. Get out of here. Ray Charles, Frank—those guys could party. Sinatra and Ray Charles, them motherfuckers invented partying." 






Did you try everything over the years?

"I've tried everything. Amyl nitrate. Methedrine. Benzedrine. Everything. Ray had me on heroin for five months."

How old were you then?


Did it get bad for you?

"Yeah, I started shooting. And then I fell down five flights of stairs, and I said, 'That ain't gonna work.' And it's the best thing that ever happened to me, because when I was in New York, I was hanging out with Howard McGhee and Earl Coleman and Charlie Parker and shit—I would have been a junkie for life."

Was it easy to stop?

"I fell down five flights of stairs, brother. I didn't need any more inspiration than that. Shit, it's the last time I did it. Because I can stop like a motherfucker. Anything. Cigarettes. Alcohol. I just stop, man."

Obviously, Ray Charles carried on for a long time.

 "Oh, please—he went 30 years with heroin, and then the police told him he couldn't get his license to play clubs unless he stops. And he did, and the 32 clubs gave him the licenses back. And then he started on black coffee and Dutch Bols gin for 25 years." (14)

When he was still using, would you talk to him about it?

"No, I wouldn't talk. Talk about what? I've seen him shooting in his testicles, man. Because heroin's a strange drug. Ray, all of his veins were dried up and black, and he's shooting himself in the testicles, man."

And you'd see that?

"Yeah, he had a guy do it. It was horrible."



Quincy Jones talking to Chris Heath for GQ Magazine  in January 2018

















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