Famed musician Quincy Jones was born Quincy Delight Jr. on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. A multifaceted jazz and pop figure who became the most Grammy-nominated artist in history with 79 nominations and 27 wins, he began with his Seattle teenage friend Ray Charles, who interested him in arranging.
He played trumpet and arranged for Lionel Hampton (1951–3), then worked as a freelance arranger on many jazz sessions. He served as musical director for Dizzy Gillespie's overseas big-band tour (1956), worked for Barclay Records in Paris (1957-8), and led an all-star big band for the European production of Harold Arlen's blues opera, “Free and Easy” (1959).
Returning to New York, Jones composed and arranged for Count Basie, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, while holding an executive post at Mercury Records and producing his own increasingly pop-oriented records. In the mid–1960s he began composing for films and television, eventually producing over 50 scores and serving as a trailblazing African-American musician in the Hollywood arena.
Jones produced Aretha Franklin's 1973 album Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky).
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 musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. In 1982, Jones's produced Michael Jackson's all-time best-selling album Thriller.
In June 2009, a statement on his website regarding the sudden death of Jackson, Jones stated “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 80's.
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.”
In 1985, Quincy Jones used his clout among major American recording artists to record the much celebrated anthem “We Are the World” to raise money for victims of famine in Ethiopia. His work on behalf of social causes has spanned his career, including the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, which built more than 100 homes in South Africa in 2001. The charity aims to connect youths with technology, education, culture and music and sponsors an intercultural exchange between teens in Los Angeles and South Africa.
Ventures Beyond Music
Jones also produced the 1985 film The Color Purple directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover; the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring Will Smith (1990–96) and published the magazines Vibe and SPIN. In 1990, Quincy Jones formed Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), a co-venture with Time Warner, Inc.
Jones has been married three times; to Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966 (they have one daughter), to Ulla Andersson from 1967 to 1974 (they have a son and a daughter), and to Peggy Lipton from 1974 to 1990 (they have two daughters). He also has two daughters from prior relationships. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones was published in 2001.
March 14, 1933
- An automobile accident at age 14, where Jones saw four of his friends killed, left him so traumatized that he has never driven a car.
- Met Ray Charles when they were both teenagers starting out in the music industry. Jones arranged and produced for Charles, and later Charles performed on Jones’ albums. They remained friends until Charles’ death in 2004.
- As an arranger in the 1950s, Jones worked with music industry legends such as Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton and Frank Sinatra.
- As a music producer for more than 60 years, he has worked with Miles Davis, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Lesley Gore, Jennifer Holliday, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Barry White and many more.
- Jones has 80 Grammy Award nominations and 28 wins, including a Grammy Legend Award. He has seven Oscar nominations and received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He also has received four Emmy nominations, winning one.
- Has scored over 30 movies and written the theme for television shows, documentaries and shorts.