Skip to content

Quincy Jones Calls Elvis Presley ‘A Racist’

Quincy Jones Elvis Presley

Elvis and Billy Ward of Billy Ward and his Dominoes (circa 1955). Williams Family photos


Besides the pandemic, 2020 will be remembered for the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests. This was the year when we constantly talked about racism, discrimination and this is not over. However, can we even compare the current situation to what was happening in the ‘50s?

Famous record producer, musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer Quincy Jones was interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter this week and he had a few things to say about racism. During his long career (he is 88), he has certainly met an impressive amount of famous people and has worked with the entire planet of music, from Sinatra to Michael Jackson to everyone in between. Just imagine a 70-year career!

When Jones remembers his time in Hollywood in the ‘60s, he mentions the ambient racism: ‘It was very, very racist,’ he says when talking about the producer of the movie ‘Mirage’ telling music supervisor Joe Gershenson, ‘You didn’t tell me Quincy Jones was a Negro.’

As shocking as this sounds now, I bet this was not unusual. Jones also recalls Truman Capote asking Richard Brooks, who was directing ‘In Cold Blood’: ‘Richard, I can’t understand you using a Negro to write music to a film with no people of color in it.’

But the most disturbing thing of the piece is his admission that he wouldn’t work with Elvis Presley. ‘I was writing for [orchestra leader] Tommy Dorsey, oh God, back then in the ’50s. And Elvis came in, and Tommy said, ‘I don’t want to play with him.’ He was a racist mother — I’m going to shut up now,’ Quincy Jones says.

I have never really looked into this but I was not under this impression, based on photos of Elvis with numerous Black musicians and what you can read here and there. ‘Presley would nevertheless publicly cite his debt to African American music, pointing to artists such as B. B. King, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Ivory Joe Hunter, and Fats Domino,’ you can read on Wikipedia. The page goes on and on about Elvis’ recognition of Black artists and music. There is even this very anti-racist quote (especially for the time) attributed to Elvis: ‘The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin’ now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in their shanties and in their juke joints and nobody paid it no mind ’til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississipi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now and I said if I ever got to a place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw’… And this other one from Little Richard: ‘He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let black music through. He opened the door for black music.’

Plenty of these old and positive testimonies have largely contributed to the iconic image of the King that we are familiar with, the man transgressing social boundaries, attending Black churches and other Black events, promoting Black artists. But now Quincy Jones is telling us he was a racist?

But this is an old story. This Australian page examines many aspects of the problem, with numerous quotes from prominent Black artists such as James Brown, B.B. King and Sammy Davis Jr, all praising the King – Brown even called him his brother in his book and was very distraught when Elvis died. But a quote, allegedly attributed to Elvis during a Boston appearance – ‘The only thing Negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records’ – has largely contributed to the racist rumor. However, Elvis apparently never went to Boston and has always denied having ever said such a thing during interviews. The page goes through all the allegations, dismantling every piece, but you still have Chuck D’s lyrics for ‘Fight the Power:’ ‘Elvis was a hero to most/But he never meant shit to me/Straight up racist that sucker was/Simple and plain/Motherfucker him and John Wayne.’

Sure, Elvis was the white rock star who stole everything from Black culture, but should we ignore all these testimonies from Black artists? Was Elvis a racist or are we still dealing with cultural misappropriation and resentment over decades of social inequities? In 2021 this declaration from Quincy Jones lands like another nail in the King’s problematic coffin.


  1. Joe white on January 8, 2022 at 8:08 am

    Quincy Jones is the racist.

  2. TcB on October 21, 2022 at 5:24 am

    Quincy Jones is definitely the racist,.. unfortunately.. Elvis testimonies by several how he demanded equality & would pass on event’s unless everyone would be treated the same as he was treated ,. He had never bn to the city as as well or met the person who had written the story ,.if you know any history abt Elvis with the love he had for all races ,.hated that people even thought that way,.raised in the church & was surely touched ,..

    • Michelle Brown on February 24, 2024 at 2:43 pm

      Racism is something we will never be able to erase it’s extremely unfortunate. I was a young girl when Elvis Presley passed. As an entertainer I’ll always love him, Quincy Jones is a master musician. I think most people have some form of racism in them. It’s truly unfortunate we all as a country need to do better.

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

The Daisy Jopling Band To Perform “Who’s Who” At The Transfiguration Church In Tarrytown, NY Sunday May 12th, 2024 7 PM ET

By admin | May 9, 2024 |

The Transfiguration Church in Tarrytown, New York Presents “Who’s Who”, original violin arrangements of iconic songs by The Who performed by the Daisy Jopling Band featuring the Sleepy Hollow High School Chamber Orchestra on Sunday, May 12th, 2024. Location: Transfiguration Church 268 South Broadway Tarrytown, NY 10591 United States Tickets are $25 and can be…

Cyborg Drummer/DJ DRMAGDN Headlining Montauk Music Fest

By admin | April 9, 2024 |

Major Label BMG Records Artist & Producer DRMAGDN Cyborg Drummer / DJ will be making his Montauk Music Fest debut this year in May. DRMAGDN will be the Official Host & MC of The Montauk Music Fest plus play headlining sets on Friday 5/17 and Saturday 5/18 from 10pm-12am at Gurney’s Montauk Resort (290 Old…

RED CARPET EVENT @ Chelsea Table & Stage 4/12/24 Featuring THE AMERICAN RELICS & DRMAGDN

By admin | March 25, 2024 |

On Friday April 12th, 2024 beginning at 6:30 pm ET  there will be a Red Carpet event pre-show sponsored by Tribeca Records at the trendy nightspot Chelsea Table and Stage located in the heart of Chelsea at 152 west 26th street (inside the Hilton Fashion Hotel) in NYC. The Red Carpet will be followed by…

Live Review: Composer Randy Edelman Live at Chelsea T&S “2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” 03/16/24 and Record Release in NYC

By admin | March 17, 2024 |

There was an infinite vitality of velvet green flowing deliciously through the air as Composer Randy Edelman presented his 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre at the trendy new nightspot Chelsea Table & Stage in the heart of NYC on March 16, 2024….. a vivacious close to the spirited Irish Parade. His music is the…

DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer/DJ Debuts @ Chelsea T&S With Retro 80’s Party & Red Carpet Event 4/12/24

By admin | February 29, 2024 |

BMG recording artist, producer and World renowned, Global Touring Electrifying Powerhouse, DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer and DJ will make his debut at the popular, trendy night spot Chelsea Table & Stage (located at 152 west 26th street inside the Hilton Hotel) on  Friday April 12, 2024 @ 9:00PM. DRMAGDN will be celebrating his high energy brand of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)…

Going Steady: New Singles 2-23-24- 2-29-24 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

dance pop, gooey confection

US Top Ten Albums Tracking 2-16-24 – 2-22-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

75K EAUs is abysmal

Our Friend Tony Orlando’s Farewell Tour

By admin | February 25, 2024 |

“I still hit the ball, I just can’t run the bases!!!”

Sneak Peaks: New Album releases 3-1-24 – 3-7-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

contenders for the best punk rock around

Child Bite, Lamb Of God, Pantera At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, February 22nd, 2024, Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

A three hours of hard rock, metal not metal, swift, loud, egoless pure metal

Scroll To Top