Quincy Delight Jones Jr. (born March 14, 1933) is an American music impresario, musical arranger, record producer, and film composer.
During 50 years in the entertainment industry Jones' work has earned him more than 70 Grammy Award nominations, more than 25 Grammy Awards, and a Grammy Legends Award in 1991. He is best known as the producer of two of the top-selling records of all time: the album Thriller, by pop icon Michael Jackson, and the charity song “We Are the World”. Also known for work with Frank Sinatra.
In 1968, Jones along with his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African-Americans nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Original Song" category. That same year, he became the first African-American nominated twice in the same year when he was nominated for Best Original Score (for In Cold Blood). Jones is also the first (and so far, only) African-American to be nominated as a producer in the category of Best Picture (in 1986, for The Color Purple). He is 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 with seven nominations each.
Born on the South Side of Chicago, to Sarah Frances (née Wells) (1903-1999) and Quincy Delightt Jones, Sr (1895-1971). His father was a semi-professional baseball player and carpenter from Kentucky; his paternal grandmother was an ex-slave in Louisville. They had gone to Chicago as part of the Great Migration out of the South. Sarah was a bank officer and apartment complex manager. Jones later discovered that his paternal grandfather was Welsh. Quincy had a younger brother, Lloyd, later an engineer for the Seattle station, KOMO-TV; he died in 1998. Quincy was introduced to music by his mother, who always sang religious songs, and by his next door neighbor Lucy Jackson. When he was five or six, Jackson played stride piano next door, and he would always listen through the walls. Lucy Jackson recalled that after he heard her that one day, she could not get him off her piano if she tried.
When the boys were young, their mother suffered from a schizophrenic breakdown and was committed to a mental institution. His father obtained a divorce and remarried.
Jones' stepmother, Elvera, had three children of her own: Waymond, who became a friend of the young Quincy, Theresa and Katherine. Elvera and Quincy Senior had three more children together through 1950, after they had moved to the Northwest: Jeanette, Margie and Richard, now a judge in Seattle, making a total of eight in the family.
In 1943, when Jones was ten, his family moved to Bremerton, Washington, where his father got a wartime job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. After the war, the Jones family moved to Seattle, the major regional city, where Jones attended Garfield High School near his home. He had discovered music when he was 12 and became more deeply involved in high school, developing his skills as a trumpeter and arranger. Classmates included Charles Taylor, who played saxophone and whose mother, Evelyn Bundy, had been one of Seattle's first society jazz-band leaders. The youths began playing with a band. At the age of 14, they were playing with a National Reserve band. Jones has said he got much more experience with music growing up in a smaller city; otherwise, he would have faced too much competition.
At the age of 14, Jones introduced himself to a 16-year-old musician from Florida Ray Charles, after watching him play at the Black Elks Club. Jones cites Ray Charles as an early inspiration for his own music career. He noted that Charles overcame a disability (blindness) to achieve his musical goals. He has credited his father's sturdy work ethic with giving him the means to proceed, and his loving strength with holding the family together. Jones has said his father had a saying: "Once a task is just begun, never leave until it's done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all."
In 1951, Jones won a scholarship to Seattle University, where a young Clint Eastwood—also a music major there—watched him play in the college band. After only one semester, Jones transferred to what is now the Berklee College of Music in Boston on another scholarship (as of 2016, Jones' application for admission is preserved on display at Berklee). While studying at Berklee he played at Izzy Ort's Bar & Grille with Bunny Campbell and Preston Sandiford, whom he later cited as important musical influences. He left his studies after he received an offer to tour as a trumpeter with the bandleader Lionel Hampton and embarked on his professional career. 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 including Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, and Ray Charles, by then a close friend.
At the age of 19, Jones travelled with Lionel Hampton to Europe and said it turned him upside down, altering his view of racism in the US.
"It gave you some sense of perspective of past, present and future. It took the myopic conflict between just black and white in the United States and put it on another level because you saw the turmoil between the Armenians and the Turks, and the Cypriots and the Greeks, and the Swedes and the Danes, and the Koreans and the Japanese. Everybody had these hassles, and you saw it was a basic part of human nature, these conflicts. It opened my soul, it opened my mind."
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, Jones signed with ABC-Paramount Records and started his recording career as the leader of his own band. In 1957, Quincy settled in Paris, where he studied composition and theory with Nadia Boulanger and composer Olivier Messiaen. He also performed at the Paris Olympia. Jones became music director at Barclay Disques, a leading French record company and the licensee for Mercury Records in France.
During the 1950s, Jones successfully toured throughout Europe with a number of jazz orchestras. As musical director of Harold Arlen's jazz musical Free and Easy, Quincy Jones took to the road again. A European tour closed in Paris in February 1960. With musicians from the Arlen show, Jones formed his own big band, called The Jones Boys, with eighteen artists. The band included double bass player Eddie Jones and fellow trumpeter Reunald Jones, and organized a tour of North America and Europe. Though the European and American concerts met enthusiastic audiences and sparkling reviews, concert earnings could not support a band of this size. Poor budget planning resulted in an economic disaster; the band dissolved and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis. Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about the ordeal,
"We had the best jazz band on 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, helped Jones with a personal loan and a new job as the musical director of the company's New York division. There he worked with Doug Moody, who founded Mystic Records.
In 1964, Jones was promoted to vice-president of Mercury Records, becoming the first African American to hold this executive position. In that same year, he turned his attention to film scores, another musical arena long closed to African Americans. At the invitation of director Sidney Lumet, he composed the music for The Pawnbroker (1964). It was the first of his 33 major motion picture scores.
Following the success of The Pawnbroker, Jones left Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles. After composing the film scores for Mirage and The Slender Thread in 1965, he was in constant demand as a composer. His film credits over the next seven years included Walk, Don't Run, The Deadly Affair, In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, Mackenna's Gold, The Italian Job, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Cactus Flower, The Out-of-Towners, They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, The Anderson Tapes, $ and The Getaway. In addition, he composed "The Streetbeater," which became familiar as the theme music for the television sitcom Sanford and Son, starring close friend Redd Foxx; he also composed the themes for other TV shows, including Ironside, Banacek, The Bill Cosby Show, the opening episode of Roots, and the Goodson & Todman 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 Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nana Mouskouri, Shirley Horn, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. Jones's solo recordings also gained acclaim, including Walking in Space, Gula Matari, Smackwater Jack, You've Got It Bad, Girl, Body Heat, Mellow Madness, and I Heard That!!.
He is known for his 1962 tune "Soul Bossa Nova", which originated on the Big Band Bossa Nova album. "Soul Bossa Nova" was a theme used for the 1998 World Cup, the Canadian game show Definition, the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run, and the Austin Powers film series. It was sampled by Canadian hip hop group Dream Warriors for their song, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style".
Jones produced all four million-selling singles for Lesley Gore during the early and mid-sixties, including "It's My Party" (UK No. 8; US No. 1), "Judy's Turn to Cry" (US No. 5), "She's a Fool" (also a US No. 5) in 1963, and "You Don't Own Me" (US No. 2 for four weeks in 1964). He continued to produce for Gore until 1966, including the Greenwich/ Barry hit "Look of Love" (US No. 27) in 1965.
In 1975, Jones founded Qwest Productions, for which he arranged and produced hugely successful albums by Frank Sinatra and other major pop figures. In 1978, he produced the soundtrack for The Wiz, the musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. In 1982, Jones' produced Michael Jackson's all-time best-selling album Thriller.
Jones's 1981 album, The Dude, yielded multiple hit singles, including "Ai No Corrida" (a remake of a song by Chaz Jankel), "Just Once," and "One Hundred Ways", the latter two featuring James Ingram on lead vocals and marking Ingram's first hits.
In 1985, Jones wrote the score for the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of the Pulitzer-prize winning epistolary novel, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. He, Jerry Goldsmith (from Twilight Zone: The Movie), and Thomas Newman (from Bridge of Spies) are the only composers besides John Williams to have scored a Spielberg theatrical film. After the 1985 American Music Awards ceremony, Jones used his influence to draw most of the major American recording artists of the day into a studio to record the song "We Are the World" to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia's famine. When people marvelled 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".
In 1988, Quincy Jones Productions joined forces with Warner Communications to create Quincy Jones Entertainment. He signed a ten-picture deal with Warner Brothers and signed a two-series deal with NBC Productions. The television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was completed in 1990, but producers of In the House (from UPN) later rejected its early concept stages. Jones produced the highly successful Fresh Prince of Bel Air (discovering Will Smith); UPN's In the House, and FOX's Madtv—which did 14 seasons on Fox. In the early 1990s, Jones started a huge, ongoing project called "The Evolution of Black Music." Not only did the Quincy Jones Entertainment Company produce The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but it also started a weekly talk show with his friend, Reverend Jesse Jackson, as the host.
Starting in the late 1970s, Jones tried to convince Miles Davis to revive the music he had recorded on several classic albums of the 1960s, which had been arranged by Gil Evans. 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 afterwards). It 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. The same year, Jones joined forces with Salzman and renamed his company as Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE). QDE is a diverse company that 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, Jones published his autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, he 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 him in the studio, producing "I Knew I Loved you" for Celine Dion. This is featured on the Ennio Morricone tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone. Jones is also noted for helping produce Anita Hall's CD, Send Love, which was released in 2009.
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 of Chicago. In the 1970s Jones formed The Quincy Jones Workshops. Meeting at the Los Angeles Landmark Variety Arts Center, the workshops educated and honed the skills of inner city youth in musicianship, acting and songwriting. Among its Alumni were Alton Mc Clain who had a hit song with Alton Mc Clain and Destiny, and Mark Wilkins, not the Race Car Driver, who co-wrote the hit song "Havin' A Love Attack" with Mandrill, and went on to become the National Promotion Director for Punk / Thrash record label Mystic Records.
For many years, Jones has worked closely with Bono of U2 on a number of philanthropic endeavors. He is the founder of the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation. A nonprofit organization that built more than 100 homes in South Africa which aims to connect 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 Global Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, and 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 an audience of half a million people.
Jones supports a number of other charities including the NAACP, GLAAD, Peace Games, AmfAR and The Maybach Foundation. Jones serves on the Advisory Board of HealthCorps. 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 [will be] to beg for a secretary of arts," This prompted the circulation of a petition on the Internet asking Obama to create such a Cabinet-level position in his administration.
In 2001, Jones became an honorary member of the board of directors of The Jazz Foundation of America. He has worked with The Jazz Foundation of America to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians, including those who survived Hurricane Katrina.
Jones and his friend John Sie, founder of Liberty Starz, worked together to create the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. They were inspired by Sie's granddaughter, Sophia, who has Down syndrome.
With the help of the author Alex Haley in 1972 and Mormon researchers in Salt Lake City, Jones discovered that his mother's ancestors included James Lanier, a relative of Sidney Lanier, the poet. Jones said in an interview, "He had a baby with my great-grandmother [a slave], and my grandmother was born there [on a plantation in Kentucky]. We traced this all the way back to the Laniers, same family as Tennessee Williams."Learning that the Lanier immigrant ancestors were French Huguenot refugees, who had court musicians among their ancestors, Jones attributed some of his musicianship to them. In a 2009 BBC interview, Jones said Haley also helped him learn that his father was of part Welsh ancestry.
In 1974, he suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm, so he decided to cut back on his schedule to spend time with his friends and family. Since his family and friends believed that his life was coming to an end, they started to plan a memorial service for him. He attended his own service with his neurologist by his side in case the excitement overwhelmed him. Some of the entertainers at his service were Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye, Sarah Vaughan and Sidney Poitier.
Jones has been married three times and has had other relationships; he has a total of seven children:
Jeri Caldwell (1957 to 1966); they had a daughter, Jolie Jones (now married and using the surname Levine).
Ulla Andersson, Swedish actress, (1967 to 1974); they had two children, Martina and Quincy Jones III;
Peggy Lipton, actress, (1974 to 1990); they had two daughters, Kidada and Rashida Jones, both born in the United States, who have become actresses.
Jones had a brief affair with Carol Reynolds, and they had a daughter, Rachel Jones.
Jones dated and lived with the actress, Nastassja Kinski, from 1991 until 1995. They had a daughter, Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones, born in 1993.
In 1994 he was criticised by rapper 2Pac for having relationships with white women.
For the 2006 PBS television program, African American Lives, Jones had his DNA tested and genealogists researched his family history again. His DNA admixture revealed he is predominately African with 34% European in ancestry, found on both sides of his family. Research showed that he has Welsh, English, French and Italian ancestry, with European ancestry in his direct patri-lineal line (Y DNA). Through his direct matri-lineal line (mt DNA), he is of West African/Central African ancestry of Tikar descent, a people centered in present-day Cameroon. Other matri-lineal ancestry includes European, such as Lanier male ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, making him eligible for Sons of Confederate Veterans. Among his ancestors is Betty Washington Lewis, the sister of president George Washington. Jones is also a direct descendant of Edward I of England; Edward's ancestors included Rurik, Polish, Swiss, and French nobility.
Jones has never learned to drive, citing an accident in which he was a passenger (at age 14) as the reason.
In addition to receiving recognition specifically for his music and arrangements, Jones has been recognized for his overall contributions to music and humanitarian goals. He has received numerous honorary doctorates and been invited to speak at college and university commencement ceremonies.
Garfield High School in Seattle named a performing arts centre after him.
Quincy Jones Elementary School located in South Central Los Angeles is named after him.
He received the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards in 2008.
He received the John F. Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.
He received the Los Angeles Press Club Visionary Award in 2014.
He received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 2015. Read more on Last.fm. last.fm