Now, when you got to CBS Records, another album
that was difficult Quincy Jones to cross over was “Off The Wall”. Could you
tell me what Michael, when he got to CBS Records, what Michael Jackson was
Yeah, well, when I was hired, uh, at CBS as a
senior vice president to run both their black music division for Columbia
and Epic, I met with Michael. We had lunch with he and Catherine and Joe.
And he was telling me about some of the problems that he had had with "Off
The Wall", which was released before I got there. The album sold about 5
million units. I personally thought that the album was just as good if not
better than "Saturday Night Live", which sold 25 million units, and if you
listen to the music, it was quite comparable.
Well, when I arrived at CBS Records, Michael Jackson was very concerned
with what had happened with his album "Off the Wall", which was released
before I arrived there. The album had sold only 5 million units. I
Well, when I arrived at CBS Records, I
met with most of our artists at that time. I met with Michael Jackson and we
were talking about the problems he had had with crossing over with his
record "Off The Wall", which I thought was a quality record, and should have
sold at least what "Saturday Night Fever" did, which was 25 million units.
So we sat and we talked, and uh, I was surprised to find that Michael was
classified at that time as a black artist. So he fell under my jurisdiction.
And I thought that he had the potential to sell those numbers. The fact is
that in my contract I negotiated that anything that he sold over 5 million
units I would be paid for, because I knew that he had the potential to make
those sales. And I thought it was just racism on the part of the company and
a part of the radio, on the part of the press even that was holding him
back. He told me that he was having difficulty, that he didn't get on the
cover of Rolling Stone, and he didn't get any writeups in Newsweek Magazine,
that he was stopped in his attempt to make a video along the caliber that he
wanted to, and the quality and the money. All these things I thought were
just happening to him because he was black at that time, and if given the
right promotional and marketing support from the company, that we could do
the numbers that "Saturday Night Fever" did. I had no idea honestly that we
would do over 40 million. But I was quite happy.
So we, uh, I set about, uh, working within the company, which was given a
lot of opposition. They were saying that if you put a black on the cover of
a magazine, you won't have the same number of newsstand sales and it cuts
circulation, all these different types of excuses that were there for not
giving him the type of press coverage that he was entitled. But being as how
the senior vice-president I put a few jobs on the line and with "Thriller"
we were able to get the press and the publicity. I approved the marketing
money for his video, which broke him, because at that time, a video of
170,000 dollars was quite a lot for any artist, let alone a black artist.
But I put myself on the line and said, this is what we have to do, and the
rest is history.