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Quincy Jones Sent His Music to Space, But He's Not Trying to Go There Too

Quincy Jones
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Quincy Jones

In a new interview, which kicks off The Hollywood Reporter's "THR Icons" series, Jones discusses Elvis, George Floyd protests & facing racism in the film industry.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Quincy Jones recalls that his "Fly Me to the Moon" recording with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie was the first song played on the moon -- but that doesn't mean he has any interest in going to outer space too.

"Oh my God, I'm not going there," Jones says in the interview, which kicks off the magazine's new "THR Icons" series. "Richard Branson and Paul Allen and Elon [Musk] are trying to get me to go with them. [They say] 'It's $250,000, I’m going to let you go free.' Uh-uh."

"Fly Me to the Moon" was a different story. As the legend goes, Buzz Aldrin told Jones that he played his recording of the song with Sinatra and Basie during the famous Apollo 11 mission. When asked by THR if his song was the first played on the moon, Jones answered, "You're goddamn right."

"I recorded it with Count Basie in four-four time," Jones recalled. "When he wrote it originally, he wrote in three-four. [Singing] 'Fly … me to the moon …' One, two, three, one, two, three. You can’t swing in three-four. Sinatra said, 'I like it the way you did it with Basie, the four-four. Would you consider doing that with me and him?' I said, 'Hell to the yeah!' So I had to sit in my hotel room in San Remo and overnight I had to write that arrangement. No piano, nothing, just write it. Frank died when he heard it, man. I was so happy because, really, that was my first thing for him. I was 29, you know? Those guys were in their 50s and 60s."

Jones also talked about his former next-door neighbor Elon Musk and his recent stint as the host of Saturday Night Live. "He’s funny. I’m glad he did it. What the f---, it shows he has a sense of humor. He wasn’t hilarious, but he was funny. At least his attempt was funny." Other topics the now-88-year-old musician covered in the interview included Elvis Presley, facing racism in the film industry, and last year's Black Lives Matter protests.

The interview kicks off the "THR Icons" series, which will put a spotlight on Hollywood legends. "It's hard to overstate the impact that Quincy Jones has had, not just on music and Hollywood, but pop culture," Nekesa Mumbi Moody, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, said in a press release announcing the series. "He's created music that has been part of the soundtrack for multiple generations, broken down racial barriers and set a blueprint for others to follow. He is the perfect person to launch our new series, celebrating the trailblazers who helped make a difference in the industry."

Read Jones' full interview here.

Illustration by Agata Nowicka for The Hollywood Reporter