Quincy Jones Claims Ray Charles Got Him Hooked On Heroin at 15

Music News

Hollywood legend Quincy Jones is back to giving candid interviews again. In the latest episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast on Wednesday (Oct. 18), Jones revealed some very interesting details about his friendship with the late Ray Charles. Jones claimed that Charles got him hooked on heroin when he was just 15 years old.

Jones, who originally stopped by to promote his upcoming biopic, recalled the moment he and Charles became friends when they were teens in Seattle. He also shared his first experience using heroin.

“He got me hooked for five months at 15,” he said, before laying out a typical night in show business for the musicians. “After we finished at the Washington Social Club and a couple of other ones, we’d all go down to Jackson Street to the Elks Club. That’s where all the bebop jam sessions were. Nobody got paid. We didn’t give a damn.”

Jones continued, noting that when the band traveled to New York City, they would buy heroin in Harlem from a dealer named Detroit Red, later known as Malcolm X. “When they finished playing they’d go over in the corner and they had it on their thumb. I just snuck in the line and got me a little hit.”

His addiction to heroin didn’t last long though. Jones said that he was able to kick the bad habit after falling down a flight of stairs. While recovering from the injury, he explained that he has lost the urge to use and spending time on bed rest allowed him to avoid getting mixed up with other drug abusers.

“The mistakes are what help you grow and learn,” he continued. “[If I hadn’t fallen], I would have been in New York, where I was hanging out with Charlie Parker. I would have been a junkie forever. Bird was always high. Thank god we did it and got it over with.”

It’s a good thing he kicked the habit. His latest interview comes several months after he made headlines for a candid conversation with Vulture. He later released a statement, saying that he would be taking a break from interviews, as advised by his daughters.

Listen to the whole interview at The Hollywood Reporter here.

READ MORE: 6 Biggest Revelations From Quincy Jones’ Latest Interview

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