Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.
Unfortunately, America doesn't have a minister of culture, and I don't understand why. It's really bad for young people.
Playing the game, and unfortunately, playing the gangster game is very profitable.
I lost my mother when I was 7 and they put her in a mental hospital. My brother and I watched her being taken away in a strait jacket. That's something you never forget. And my stepmother was like in the movie 'Precious.' I couldn't handle it. So I said to myself, 'I don't have a mother. I don't need one. I'm going to let music be my mother.'
Seattle is like a global gumbo, a melting pot with all kinds of people - the rich, the poor, white people, some Chinese, Filipino, Jewish and black people - they're all here.
You have to know that your real home is within.
Young people should travel, and they don't. You can't know if you don't go.
When you produce an album, you're dealing with it theatrically. It has to have a structure, and the inner response to that is that the ear loves it.
I tell my kids and I tell proteges, always have humility when you create and grace when you succeed, because it's not about you. You are a terminal for a higher power. As soon as you accept that, you can do it forever.
I travel like a maniac. I travel more than anyone I know. I love learning the languages.
I never cared about money or fame, and I don't care now. I follow the groove, and money always follows.
Few rappers realize the genre sprang from West African griots through Delta slave songs to jazz poetry and the comedic trash talk of 'the dozens.'
You cannot get an A if you're afraid of getting an F.
The only justification for looking down on anyone, is that you're going to stop and pick them up.
When I was 14, I would sit up in my room and write till my eyes would bleed.
I believe that a hundred years from now, when people look back at the 20th century, they will look at Miles, Bird, Clifford Brown, Ella and Dizzy, among elders as our Mozarts, our Chopins, our Bachs and Beethovens.
I found this out over the years, that racism is a thinly veiled disguise over economics and money. It really is.
If architecture is frozen music then music must be liquid architecture.
I'm Pisces with Leo rising. The Pisces part is the dreamer. The Leo says, 'Let's execute.'
I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying “Ain’t that the truth
To me it's no accident that all the symphony orchestras around the world tune up to the note A. And A is 440 cycles, except in Germany where it's 444. But the universe is 450 cycles. So what I'm trying to say is, I think it's God's voice, melody especially. Counterpoint, retrograde inversion, harmony... that's the science and the craft.
I've never been bored in my life, man. I've never been bored or lonely. Are you kidding? No way! I'm an orchestrator, a musician, a producer. I love everything. I've studied languages from Farsi to Greek to French, Swedish, Russian... How can you get bored?
I hope that on my tombstone it says 'Born 1933, died 2043.' I hope that's my legacy.
I live on the Internet.
After I learned the piano, I went on to learn percussion, the tuba, b-flat baritone, French horn, trombone, trumpet, most of the instruments in the orchestra. Trumpet was my instrument.
I met Ray Charles at 14, and he was 16. But he was like a hundred years older than me.
I think the attraction of 'American Idol' is about the basic human nature attitude that is, 'We can put you up there. But we can take you down.'
Melody is king, and don't you ever forget it. Lyrics appear to be out front, but they're not; they're just an accompanying factor. If they're good, you're really in good shape. Lyrics are written to be rewritten.
I was rapping in 1939. It's old. The roots are complex. And kids don't know.
When you work with Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine and Frank Sinatra, and you tell them to jump without a net, you better know what you're talking about. Thank God I was ready for it.
Everybody, no matter what vocation they're looking at, should add music as an essential to their curriculum. Music can be a very important part of your soul and your growth as a human being. It's so powerful.
Sidney Poitier and Sidney Lumet were instrumental in helping me get started as the first black composer to get name credit for movie scores.
Frank Sinatra took me to a whole new planet. I worked with him until he passed away in '98. He left me his ring. I never take it off. Now, when I go to Sicily, I don't need a passport. I just flash my ring.
I guess hip-hop has been closer to the pulse of the streets than any music we've had in a long time. It's sociology as well as music, which is in keeping with the tradition of black music in America.
My son is a hip-hop producer.
China's got a billion people and a hit record over there is a million records. You know that ain't right.
I'm never in my life going to do a record that's a tribute to myself. I don't need it.
I was the most subtle person in the world.
My earliest memories are being pinned to a fence with a switchblade.
I'd been in love before - I was always in love.
My grandmother had this high-tech security system - a rusty nail she used to lock the door.
I don't remember feeling love.
All guys get into music because they love music and they also want to get the girls.
I never felt like I had a mother.
A great song can make a terrible singer sound good, but a good singer - you put a great song on top of that, you're really in great shape!
I'm a great believer in letting lyrics just flow out, wherever they come from.
I was married for 36 years but now I'm free.
I've met every freak in the business.
I'm not a psychiatrist.
I'm just a musician and a record producer.
The climate in the '50s and '60s for black performers or black people in the entertainment business was atrocious. It was atrocious.
Every country can be defined through their food, their music and their language. That's the soul of a country.
When I was 14, I was a passenger in a terrible accident.
When I was about five or seven years old my mother was placed in a mental institution and so we were with our father who worked very hard, and we had to figure a lot of things out.
We stole a box of honey jars one time and went out in the woods and took care of the whole box. I don't think I touched honey again for 20 years. I never wanted to see honey again.
We spent most of our life almost like street rats just running around the street until we were ten years old.
It's easy to get next to music theory, especially between your peers and music classes and so forth. You just pay attention. I had a good ear, so I realized that printed music was just about reminding you what to play.
It slaps your dignity just right. I loved the idea of these proud, dignified black men, and I saw the older ones wounded, and it wounded me ten times as much because I couldn't stand seeing them hurt like this.
If you started in New York you were dealing with the biggest guys in the world. You're dealing with Charlie Parker and all the big bands and everything. We got more experience working in Seattle.
I went with Lionel Hampton for three years. Out of that came a trip to Europe.
I got a scholarship to Seattle University and I was writing arrangements for singers and everybody. But the music course was too dry and I really wanted to get away from home.
I have all the tools and gadgets. I tell my son, who's a producer, 'You never work for the machine; the machine works for you.'
I was reading Omar Khayyam, Kahlil Gibran, Rumi, L. Ron Hubbard, all sorts of philosophy. Bebop cats are like that. Curious. I wanted to know about everything.
You make your mistakes to learn how to get to the good stuff.
Everybody has their idiosyncrasies.
It's amazing how much trouble you can get in when you don't have anything else to do.
Cherish your mistakes, and you won't keep making them over and over again. It's the same with heartbreaks and girls and everything else. Cherish them, and they'll put some wealth in you.
I believe in astrology as much as I do in genetics.
I started imagining this whole different world. It was a society of musicians, a family I hoped I could belong to one day.
I don't ever want to grow up. That's boring.
I like all music. The only music I don't like is bad music.
I'm a tremendous believer and supporter in hip-hop and rap.
Every day, my daddy told me the same thing. 'Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it's done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all.'
Music in movies is all about dissonance and consonance, tension and release.
I was raised in Chicago and I guess that was one of the special breeding grounds for gangsters of all colors. That was the Detroit of the gangster world. The car industry was thugs.
Arts is just as important as military defense, you know? Emotional defense is just as important.
Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old shared a little of what he is good at doing.
My father was a carpenter, a very good carpenter. He also worked for the Jones boys. They were not family members, we weren't related at all. They started the policy racket in Chicago, and they had the five and dime store.
I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music - gospel, blues, jazz and R&B - is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I'm telling you.
Without the Fender bass, there'd be no rock n' roll or no Motown. The electric guitar had been waiting 'round since 1939 for a nice partner to come along. It became an electric rhythm section, and that changed everything.
I'm probably the only one in the world you can name that's worked with Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Ella, Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Ray Charles, Aretha, Michael Jackson, rappers. 'Fly Me to the Moon' was played on the moon by Buzz Aldrin. Sinatra. Paul Simon. Tony Bennett. I'm the only one.
I didn't understand key signatures or anything, you know. I'd say silly things at the top of a trumpet part like, 'Note, when you play B naturals, make the B naturals a half step lower because they sound funny if they're B naturals.' And some guy said: 'Idiot, just put a flat on the third line and it's a key signature, you know?'
I got in the school band and the school choir. It all hit me like a ton of bricks, everything just came out. I played percussion for a while, and stayed after school forever just tinkering around with different things, the clarinets and the violins.
I was inspired by a lot of people when I was young. Every band that came through town, to the theater, or the dance hall. I was at every dance, every night club, listened to every band that came through, because in those days we didn't have MTV, we didn't have television.
Just blow in it and sound bad for about a year and then make it sound a little bit better, and you get a little band together, and then you get a few jobs. You take four guys that sound half bad, but if they're 25 percent each, they can give 100 percent, you know?
We got into all the trouble you could ever imagine. We figured that if the Jones boys and all the gangsters ran Chicago, we had our own territory now. All the stores, all the crime, we were in charge of everything, my stepbrother and my brother.
We were in the heart of the ghetto in Chicago during the Depression, and every block - it was probably the biggest black ghetto in America - every block also is the spawning ground practically for every gangster, black and white, in America too.
After every war, there was a significant change in the music, and I can understand how that happened. If you participate in protecting the country, you think you can be part of it, but you come back home and it's worse than ever.
When I was 13, I started working in a nightclub with Ray Charles. That's the greatest school in the world, the school of the streets. Ray taught me how to read in Braille. He was only two years older than me, but it was like he was 100 years older.
Working with kids in Soweto in South Africa, it's rough out there. But the bottom line is you've got to go to know. In Cambodia, there are 10,000 landmines. Same in Afghanistan, same in Colombia. I'm totally addicted to traveling.
Bebop and hip-hop, in so many ways, they're connected. A lot of rappers remind me so much of bebop guys in terms of improvisation, beats and rhymes. My dream is to see hip-hop incorporated in education. You've got the youth of the world in the palm of your hand.