Paul Allen Can Play Guitar Like Jimi Hendrix, According to Quincy Jones

The Microsoft cofounder, Seahawks owner and overall influential Seattleite can apparently shred.
| Updated: November 27, 2018

In accordance with Internet Law, whenever there is a local angle to a national story of interest, especially if it’s a quirky one, publications like this one are obligated to blog about it.

Well, New York Magazine’s new Q&A with Quincy Jones is one of the most entertaining interviews published in recent memory, and there is indeed a Seattle angle.

In addition to revelations about dating Ivanka Trump, Michael Jackson stealing songs, and how Jones knows the identity of who killed President John F. Kennedy (really!), Jones shares an amusing anecdote about one of the Most Influential Seattleites of 2017 (Paul Allen) playing guitar like one of the single most famous Seattleites.

Right after talking about how the Beatles “were the worst musicians in the world,” (seriously, this interview has everything) Jones answered a question about which rock musicians were actually talented. Here’s what he said (before criticizing rich people).

Were there any rock musicians you thought were good?
I used to like Clapton’s band. What were they called?

Yeah, they could play. But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix?

Paul Allen.

Stop it. The Microsoft guy?
Yeah, man. I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.

You hang out in these elite social circles and doing good has always been important to you, but are you seeing as much concern for the poor as you’d like from the ultrarich?  
No. The rich aren’t doing enough. They don’t fucking care. I came from the street, and I care about these kids who don’t have enough because I feel I’m one of ’em. These other people don’t know what it feels like to be poor, so they don’t care.”

Allen famously owns a ton of Hendrix memorabilia, including the 1968 white Fender Stratocaster played at Woodstock, and when the Allen-founded MoPOP was the EMP Museum, it celebrated Hendrix everywhere.

Jones also shared a story about Hendrix himself, saying he was nervous to play with a number of musicians on Jones’ 1970 album.

Wasn’t Hendrix supposed to play on Gula Matari?
He was supposed to play on my album same year. and he chickened out. He was nervous to play with Toots Thielemans, Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, Roland Kirk — those are some scary motherfuckers. Toots was one of the greatest soloists that ever fucking lived. The cats on my records were the baddest cats in the world and Hendrix didn’t want to play with them.”

Jones also brought up Allen again later in the interview.

What’s something positive you’ve been feeling about music lately?
Understanding where it comes from. It’s fascinating. I was on a trip with Paul Allen a few years ago, and I went to the bathroom and there were maps on the wall of how the Earth looked a million-and-a-half years ago. Off the coast of South Africa, where Durban is, was the coast of China. The people had to be mixing, and you hear it in the music — in the drums from both places. There are African qualities to Chinese music, Japanese music, too, with the Kodo drumming. It all comes from Africa. It’s a heavy thing to think about.”

So does this mean Paul Allen and his apparently legendary skills will be shredding at the Upstream Music Fest and Summit that he backs? We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, here's Allen playing at MoPOP with Ringo Starr, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Joe Walsh.

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