Grammy-winning record producer Quincy Jones testified Thursday that despite any contract language to the contrary, he believes he is entitled to royalties for the use by third parties of any Michael Jackson songs he helped produce for several albums, including “Thriller” and “Bad.”
Asked by Howard Weitzman, one of the attorneys for MJJ Productions Inc. – – a company that is part of the Jackson estate — why he sued the entity, Jones replied, “Because I got cheated out of a lot of money, that’s why.”
During sometimes heated responses to questions from the septuagenarian Weitzman, the octogenarian plaintiff said he was not trying to deprive Jackson’s children, the beneficiaries of the late singer’s estate, of any money to which they are entitled.
“I have children, too,” Jones said.
At one point, Jones rhetorically asked Weitzman, “You ever made a No. 1 one record?”
After Weitzman replied he had not, Jones said, “I know that.”
Jones said he traditionally left contract language up to his lawyers and that all he did was sign the documents. But he said the work he did was more important than anything else.
“If we make the record, the contract doesn’t mean anything to me,” Jones said.
Jones occasionally drew chuckles from jurors and the audience with some of his comments. When asked if he recognized Jackson’s sweeping signature alongside his on one of the contracts, Jones replied, “Ray Charles could see that.”
Jones said he doubted he would have sued if Jackson were still alive because he believed the two of them could have resolved any financial disagreements. He said he spent considerable time with the singer — who he praised often during his testimony — and that he was often present with Jackson at times the singer’s family was not.
“They weren’t even in the studio,” Jones said.
Jones repeatedly said the money was not as important as the quality of the work.
“My objective is to make a good record, that’s it,” Jones said.
Among the allegations in Jones’ suit against MJJ Productions are that royalties from the film “This is It” were disguised as profits and diverted to three Jackson estate entities: the Michael Jackson Co., MJJ Ventures and Triumph International. He also maintains he is entitled to money from two Cirque du Soleil shows about Jackson.
“This is It” is a 2009 documentary that traces Jackson’s rehearsals and preparation for a series of London concerts that never happened. The singer had been rehearsing for the shows when he died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 – – 18 days prior to the tour’s start date — of a drug overdose at age 50.
Jones, now 84, also alleges that master recordings he worked on were wrongfully edited and remixed so as to deprive him of bonus profits. The 28- time Grammy winner also maintains he was denied credit for his work on the singer’s works released after his death.
Jones made agreements with Jackson in 1978 and 1985 for work on the singer’s solo albums in which the producer claims he was given the first opportunity to re-edit or remix any of the master recordings. He also maintains that the coupling of master recordings with other recordings required his permission and that was to be given producer credit for each of the master recordings.
Jones filed the lawsuit in October 2013 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
–City News Service