Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. (born March 14, 1933) is an American music conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer and trumpeter. During five decades in the entertainment industry, Jones has earned a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He is best known as the producer of the album Thriller, by pop icon Michael Jackson, which has sold over 110 million copies worldwide, and as the producer and conductor of the charity song ?We Are the World?.
In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Original Song" category. That same year, he became the first African-American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for "Best Original Score" for his work on the music of the 1967 film In Cold Blood. In 1971 Jones would receive the honor of becoming the first African American to be named musical director/conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony. Jones was also the first (and so far, the only) African-American to be nominated as a producer in the category of Best Picture (in 1986, for The Color Purple). He was also the first African-American to win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African American, each of them having seven nominations. At the 2008 BET Awards, Quincy Jones was presented with the Humanitarian Award. He was played by Larenz Tate in the 2004 biopic about Ray Charles, Ray.
Jones was born in Chicago, the oldest son of Sarah Frances (n?e Wells), an apartment complex manager and bank executive who suffered from schizophrenia, and Quincy Delight Jones, Sr., a semi-professional baseball player and carpenter. Jones discovered music in grade school at Raymond Elementary School on Chicago's South Side and took up the trumpet. When he was 10, his family moved to Bremerton, Washington and he attended Seattle's Garfield High School. He then attended Somerset Academy.
In 1951, Jones won a scholarship to the Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) in Boston, Massachusetts. However, he abandoned his studies when he received an offer to tour as a trumpeter with the bandleader Lionel Hampton. While Jones was on the road with Hampton, he displayed a gift for arranging songs. Jones relocated to New York City, where he received a number of freelance commissions arranging songs for artists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, and his close friend Ray Charles.
In 1956, Jones toured again as a trumpeter and musical director of the Dizzy Gillespie Band on a tour of the Middle East and South America sponsored by the United States Information Agency. Upon his return to the United States, Jones got a contract from ABC-Paramount Records and commenced his recording career as the leader of his own band. Jones moved to Paris, France in 1957. He studied music composition and theory with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. He also performed at the Paris Olympia. Jones became music director at Barclay Disques, the French distributor for Mercury Records and during the 1950s, Jones successfully toured throughout Europe with a number of jazz orchestras. He formed his own band called "The Jones Boys", which included jazz greats Eddie Jones & fellow trumpeter Reunald Jones, and organized a tour of North America and Europe. Though the tour was a critical success, poor budget planning made it an economic disaster and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis. Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about his ordeal, "We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That's when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two." Irving Green, head of Mercury Records, got Jones back on his feet with a loan and a new job as the musical director of the company's New York division. In 1964, Jones was promoted to vice-president of the company, thus becoming the first African American to hold such a position.
In 1963 Jones helped discover singer Lesley Gore, and produced some of her biggest hits, including "It's My Party". In 1964 Jones, at the invitation of film director Sidney Lumet, began composing one of the first of the 33 major motion picture scores he would eventually write. The result was the score for The Pawnbroker.
Jones resigned from Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles to compose film scores full time. Some of his compositions were for the films Walk, Don't Run, In Cold Blood, The Slender Thread, In the Heat of the Night, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which featured Merrilee Rush performing a cover of the Burt Bacharach classic "What the World Needs Now Is Love", Cactus Flower, The Getaway, The Italian Job, and The Color Purple. He also scored for television, including the shows Roots, Ironside, Sanford and Son, and The Bill Cosby Show, as well as the theme music for The New Bill Cosby Show titled "Chump Change," which would later serve as the theme for the game show Now You See It.
In the 1960s, Jones worked as an arranger for some of the most important artists of the era, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. Jones' solo recordings also garnered acclaim, including Walking in Space, Gula Matari, Smackwater Jack and Ndeda, You've Got It Bad, Girl, Body Heat, Mellow Madness, and I Heard That.
He is well known for his 1962 song "Soul Bossa Nova", which originated on the Big Band Bossa Nova album. "Soul Bossa Nova" was a theme for the 1998 World Cup, the Canadian game show Definition, the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run and the Mike Myers movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and was sampled by Canadian hip hop group Dream Warriors for their song, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style".
Jones's 1981 album The Dude yielded multiple hit singles, including "Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways," both of which featured James Ingram on lead vocals and marked Ingram's first hit singles.
In 1985, Jones scored the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of The Color Purple. He and Jerry Goldsmith (from Twilight Zone: The Movie) are the only composers besides John Williams to have scored a theatrical Spielberg film. After the 1985 American Music Awards ceremony, Jones used his influence to draw most major American recording artists of the day into a studio to lay down the track "We Are the World" to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia's famine. When people marveled at his ability to make the collaboration work, Jones explained that he'd taped a simple sign on the entrance: "Check Your Ego At The Door".
Starting in the late 1970s, Jones tried to convince Miles Davis to re-perform the music he had played on several classic albums that had been arranged by Gil Evans in the 1960s. Davis had always refused, citing a desire not to revisit the past. In 1991, Davis, then suffering from pneumonia, relented and agreed to perform the music at a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The resulting album from the recording, Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, was Davis' last released album (he died several months afterward) and is considered an artistic triumph.
In 1993, Jones collaborated with David Salzman to produce the concert extravaganza An American Reunion, a celebration of Bill Clinton's inauguration as president of the United States. In 1994, Salzman and Jones formed the company Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE) with Time/Warner Inc. QDE is a diverse company which produces media technology, motion pictures, television programs (In the House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and MADtv), and magazines (Vibe and Spin).
In 2001, he published his autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, Jones partnered with Wizzard Media to launch the Quincy Jones Video Podcast. In each episode, Jones shares his knowledge and experience in the music industry. The first episode features Jones in the studio, producing "I Knew I Loved you" for Celine Dion, which is featured on the Ennio Morricone tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone.
In 2006, Jones and other individuals became prominent investors in a Foxwoods slots casino proposed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In September 2008, facing massive opposition at the originally proposed waterfront location, backers for the slots casino decided to try to seek a new location in the Center City area, next to Philadelphia's Chinatown community. As of January, 2009, the casino still does not have a building permit.
Work with Michael Jackson
While working on the film The Wiz, Michael Jackson asked him to produce his upcoming solo record. The result, Off The Wall has sold approximately 20 million copies and made Jones the most powerful record producer in the industry. Jones' and Jackson's next collaboration Thriller has sold a reputed 110 million copies and became the highest-selling album of all time. Jones also worked on Michael Jackson's album Bad, which has sold 32 million copies. After the Bad album, Jones recommended Jackson to New Jack Swing inventors Teddy Riley and Babyface so Jackson could "update" his sound.
In a 2002 interview, when Jackson was asked if he would ever work with Jones again he replied, "the door is always open". However, in 2007, when NME.COM asked Jones a similar question, he said "Man please, I've got enough to do. We already did that. I have talked to him about working with him again but I've got too much to do. I've got 900 projects, I'm 74 years old. Give me a break".
Following Jackson's death on , 2009, Jones said:
I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on The Wiz and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the '80s. To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all...talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.
Work with Frank Sinatra
Jones first worked with Frank Sinatra when he was invited by Princess Grace to arrange a benefit at the Monaco Sporting Club in 1958. Six years later, Sinatra hired him to arrange and conduct Sinatra's second album with Count Basie, It Might as Well Be Swing (1964). Jones conducted and arranged 1966's live album with the Basie Band, Sinatra at the Sands. Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson performed with the Basie orchestra in St. Louis in a benefit for Dismas House in June 1965. The fund-raiser was broadcast to a number of other theaters around the country and eventually released on DVD. Later that year, Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra and Basie appeared on "The Hollywood Palace" TV show on October 16, 1965. Nineteen years later, Sinatra and Jones teamed up for 1984's L.A. Is My Lady, after a joint Sinatra-Lena Horne project was abandoned.
Jones has never learned to drive, citing an accident in which he was a passenger (at age 14) as the reason. Jones has been married three times and has seven children:
to Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966; they had one daughter, Jolie Jones Levine.
to Ulla Andersson from 1967 to 1974; they had two children, Martina Jones and son Quincy Jones III;
to actress Peggy Lipton from 1974 to 1990; they had two daughters, actresses Kidada Jones and Rashida Jones.
Jones also had a brief affair with Carol Reynolds and had a daughter, Rachel Jones.
Jones dated and lived with actress Nastassja Kinski from 1991 until 1997. In February 1993, their daughter Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones was born.
Jones's social activism began in the 1960s with his support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones is one of the founders of the Institute for Black American Music (IBAM) whose events aim to raise enough funds for the creation of a national library of African-American art and music. Jones is also one of the founders of the Black Arts Festival in his hometown Chicago. For many years, he has worked closely with Bono of U2 on a number of philanthropic issues. He is the founder of the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, a nonprofit that connects youths with technology, education, culture and music. One of the organization's programs is an intercultural exchange between underprivileged youths from Los Angeles and South Africa.
In 2004, Jones helped launch the We Are the Future (WAF) project, which gives children in poor and conflict-ridden areas a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies. The project was launched with a concert in Rome, Italy, in front of a half-million-person audience.
Jones supports a number of other charities including the NAACP, GLAAD, Peace Games, AmFAR and The Maybach Foundation. On July 26, 2007, he announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. But with the election of Barack Obama, Quincy Jones said that his next conversation "with President Obama to beg for a Secretary of Arts," prompting the circulation of a petition on the Internet asking Obama to create such a Cabinet-level position in his administration.
In 2001 Quincy became an Honorary member of the Board of Directors of The Jazz Foundation of America. Quincy worked with The Jazz Foundation of America to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina.
Awards and recognition
See List of Quincy Jones' awards and accolades
Jones had a cameo in the 1997 video for the Puff Daddy song "Been Around the World" (as "Uncle Q"). That same year, Jones made a cameo in the video for the song "Triumph" by Wu-Tang Clan. Rapper Ludacris sampled Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" for his 2005 single "Number One Spot". Jones was featured in the video; he also performed a cameo in Austin Powers in Goldmember, which also featured "Soul Bossa Nova" on its soundtrack. Jones had a brief appearance in the 1990 video for The Time song "Jerk Out". Jones was a guest star on an episode of The Boondocks in which he and the main character, Huey Freeman, co-produced a Christmas play for Huey's elementary school.
Quincy Jones hosted an episode of the long-running NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live on February 10, 1990 (during SNL's 15th season ). The episode was notable for having ten musical guests (the most any SNL episode has ever had in its 30+ years on the air): Tevin Campbell, Andrae Crouch, Sandra Crouch, rappers Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane, Melle Mel, Quincy D III, Siedah Garrett, Al Jarreau, and Take 6, and for a performance of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" by The SNL Band (conducted by Quincy Jones himself. Jones also impersonated Marion Barry in the then-recurring sketch, "The Bob Waltman Special". Quincy Jones would later be producer for his own sketch comedy show: FOX's MADtv, which has often been compared favorably (and unfavorably) to Saturday Night Live.
Jones appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures film Fantasia 2000, introducing the set piece of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
Jones during NASA's 50th anniversary gala, 2008.
On February 10, 2008, Jones presented at the Grammy Awards. With Usher he presented Album of The Year to Herbie Hancock.
On January 6, 2009, Quincy Jones appeared on NBC's Last Call with Carson Daly to discuss various experiences within his prolific career. Also discussed was the informal notion of Jones becoming the first Minister of Culture for the United States ? following the pending inauguration of the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama. Carson Daly indicated the U.S. as being one of the only leading world countries, along with Germany, to exclude this position from the national government. This idea has also been subject to more in-depth discussion on NPR and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Jones is a great admirer of Brazilian culture and a film on Brazil's Carnival is among his recent plans: "one of the most spectacular spiritual events on the planet"; Simone, whom he cites as "one of the world?s greatest singers", Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento and Gilson Peranzzetta, "one of the five biggest arrangement producers of the world" stand as close friends and partners in his recent works.
African American Lives
Main article: African American Lives
For the 2006 PBS television program African American Lives, Jones had his DNA tested, the results found West African/Central African ancestry of Tikar descent.
The test showed him to be descended from the Tikar of Cameroon, an ethnic group whose members are well known for their artistic and musical prowess.
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