Producer of Thriller
Quincy Jones made a name for himself with 79 Grammy nominations, 27 of which he won. The 1991 Grammy Legend Award recipient also picked up an Emmy Award for his music for the ground-breaking ABC miniseries “Roots” (1977) as well as seven Academy Award nominations. Receiving his first two nominations in 1968 for scoring the film “In Cold Blood” and writing the song “The Eyes of Love” for the film “Banning,” Jones collected his subsequent nominations for his work in “For Love of Ivy” (1968), “The Wiz” (1978) and “The Color Purple” (1985, also a co-producer). Jones became the first African-American to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1995 and has been an inductee in the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. In the music industry since 1951, Jones was honored by the United Negro College Fund at the 2005 annual Evening of Stars event for his long-term entertainment career. Previously, he had been awarded the highly popular French Légion d’Honneur medal (2001).
“People kill me when they say, ‘How do you sit down and plan to do an album like ‘Thriller?’ Give me a break. You have to let go and let God deal with things. As I get older, I realize, about music or whatever, how little we have to do with anything. You write the script and then God comes and rewrites it.” Quincy Jones
One of the most influential music producers and executives in the world, Jones is perhaps best-recalled for producing the first three of Michael Jackson’s noted albums: “Off the Wall” (1979), “Thriller” (1982) and “Bad” (1987). He was also behind the success of the charity benefit single “We Are The World” (1985). The former co-founder of Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE) was also the executive producer of television series like NBC’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (1990-1994), “In the House” (1995) and Fox’s “Mad TV” (1995). As a landmark recording artist, Jones has released a number of No.1 hit albums including “Smackwater Jack” (1971), “You’ve Got It Bad, Girl” (1973), “Body Heat” (1974), “Mellow Madness” (1975), “I Heard That,” (1976), “Sounds...And Stuff Like That,” (1978), “Back On The Block” (1989), “Q’s Jook Joint” (1995) and “From Q With Love” (1999).
Jones is a long-time social activist. In the 1960s, he backed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and co-founded the Black Arts Festival in Chicago and the Institute for Black American Music (IBAM). The proceeds from IBAM events were donated for the creation of a national library of African-American art and music. He also helped to establish the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, built more than 100 homes in South Africa in 2001 and helped establish the We Are the Future (WAF) project in 2004. Other charitable organizations he has supported include GLAAD, Peace Games, NAACP and AmFAR.
Jones has been married three times. He has one daughter, jazz singer Jolie Jones Levine, with first wife Jeri Caldwell (together from 1957 to 1966), and two children, Martina Jones and Quincy Jones III, with second wife Ulla Andersson (together from 1967 to 1974). He also has two daughters, actresses Kidada Jones (also a model) and Rashida Jones, with third wife actress Peggy Lipton (together from 1974 to 1990) and two more children, Rachel Jones and Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones, who was mothered by former companions Carol Reynolds and actress Nastassja Kinski, respectively. After his six-year romance with Kinski ended in 1997, Jones dated Mickella Tupta in 1998 and Lisette Derouax in 1999.
Childhood and Family:
The eldest son of Quincy Delight Jones Sr., a semi-professional baseball player and woodsman, and Sarah Jones, who founded a black-owned bank, Federal Savings and Loan Corporation, before becoming an apartment complex manager, Quincy Delight Jones Jr. was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. He relocated to Bremerton, Washington, with his father and stepmother when he was 10 years old.
Quincy, known to his friends as Q, discovered a love for music at an early age. As a teenager, he befriended a local musician named Ray Charles and they performed together at local clubs and weddings with Quincy on the trumpet and Ray on piano and vocals. 18-year-old Quincy received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. However, he chose to play with bandleader Lionel Hampton instead.
In 1957, Quincy married high school sweetheart Jeri Caldwell. The couple later moved to New York City and Paris where Quincy trained under Nadine Boulanger. After having been together for nine years, they divorced in 1966. The marriage produced one daughter, jazz vocalist Jolie Jones Levine. Quincy next tied the knot with a Swedish woman named Ulla Andersson and had two children, daughter Martina Lisa Jones and son Quincy Jones III (born in 1972). The marriage lasted from 1967 to 1974. Quincy married actress Peggy Lipton on September 14, 1974. The twosome welcomed their first daughter, Kidada Jones, on March 22, 1974, and their next girl, Rashida Jones, on February 25, 1976. His third marriage, however, also ended in separation when the couple divorced in 1990.
A three-time divorcee, Quincy lived with actress Nastassja Kinski from 1991 to 1997. Their daughter, Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones, was born in 1993. Quincy also had a brief affair with Carol Reynolds, with whom he has a daughter named Rachel Jones.
Quincy has never learned to drive because of an automobile accident he was in as a teen.
Starting out as a trumpeter who performed at local clubs and weddings with musical partner Ray Charles, Washington-raised Quincy Jones abruptly left his studies to tour with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, in which he served as an arranger in addition to playing the French horn, before moving to New York City in 1950. He soon established a reputation for himself as a freelance arranger whose clients included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Gene Krupa, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Cannonball Adderley, and of course, his buddy Ray Charles. Jones, however, never forgot his trumpet. In 1956, he toured the Middle East and South America with the Dizzy Gillespie band as their trumpeter and music director. Upon his return, Jones launched his first albums as bandleader for ABC Paramount Records.
1957 saw Jones relocate to Paris to study classical composition with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. During his stay, he also worked as a music director for Barclay Disques, a French distributor of Mercury Records. Returning to the road, he joined Harold Arlen's jazz musical Free and Easy as their musical director and toured Europe. After the tour ended, he formed his own big band with artists from the Arlen show and enjoyed well-received concerts in America and Europe. Unfortunately, the concert profit could not support the band and after the band disbanded, Jones returned to the United States in 1961. Thanks to the help of Irving Green, the head of Mercury Records, he was able to stay in New York and work as the label's A&R representative. After three years, in 1964, Jones was appointed a vice-president of Mercury Records, making him one of the first African-Americans to grasp such an executive position in the industry. It was also in 1964 that Jones composed the music for “The Pawnbroker,” a motion picture directed by Sidney Lumet.
At Mercury, Jones was responsible for the production of such 1960s hits as “It's My Party,” “I Can't Stop Loving You” and Frank Sinatra's “Fly Me to the Moon.” After the success of “The Pawnbroker,” he left Mercury and headed to Los Angeles. Jones went on to compose music for such films as the Sidney Poitier starring vehicle “The Slender Thread” (1965) and Lumet's “The Deadly Affair” (1966), and picked up Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Song and Best Original Music Score for the 1967 movies “Banning” and “In Cold Blood,” respectively. He received his third Oscar nomination in 1969 for the song “For Love of Ivy” from the 1968 film of the same name. Jones also lent his musical talents for such TV programs as NBC's “Hey, Landlord” (1966), ABC's special “Rodgers and Hart Today” (1967, as music director) and the TV movie “Ironside” (1967).
Jones signed with A&M records in 1969 and released his first album, “Walking in Space,” later that same year. A Top Ten hit on the Jazz and Hip Hop charts, the album won a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. He went on to produce eight more albums with the label, namely 1970's “Gula Matari,” “Smackwater Jack” (1971), “You've Got It Bad, Girl” (1973), “Body Heat” (1974), “Mellow Madness” (1975), “I Heard That” (1976), “Roots” (1977) and “Sounds...And Stuff Like That” (1978).
In the midst of recording albums, Jones dealt with serious health problems as the result of a cerebral aneurysm. He underwent two operations in 1974. Jones rebounded the following year by launching his own record label, “Qwest Records,” whose artists included James Ingram, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan and most notably, Michael Jackson. He gained even more recognition in 1977 when his musical score for the landmark ABC miniseries “Roots” garnered the outstanding musician an Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore). An Academy Award nomination followed in 1979 thanks to his scoring of the Sidney Lumet film “The Wiz” (1978), which starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Richard Pryor.
Jones was reunited with Michael Jackson in 1979 when he produced and arranged Jackson's debut solo album, “Off the Wall,” which went on to become a massive hit. The album's success subsequently launched Jones as the most influential record producer in the industry. He would produce Jackson's subsequent two albums, “Thriller” (1982), which was the highest-selling album of all time, and “Bad” (1987).
Jones returned to work on his own album in 1980 and released “The Dude” for A&M. The album received four Grammys in the categories of Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or A Group with Vocals, Best Instrumental Arrangement, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) and Producer of the Year. He, however, did not release another solo album until the 1990 “Back on the Block.” A No. 1 hit Jazz/Hip Hop album, “Back on the Block” brought Jones a string of Grammy recognitions, including Album Of The Year, Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group, Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Best Instrumental Arrangement and Producer of The Year.
In between the albums, Jones remained busy pursuing other project. In 1985, he provided music and songs for the Steven Spielberg-directed “The Color Purple,” which won him two Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song. Also serving as co-producer, Jones netted an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Picture for his work on the critically acclaim drama. He also served as executive music producer for the 1985 film “Fast Forward,” produced and arranged the charity song “We Are the World” (also 1985) and provided the theme for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (1986), among others.
From 1990 to 1994, Jones was the executive producer of the hit television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” which starred Will Smith. In 1990, he also became the subject of the documentary “Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones,” which was produced by Courtney Sale Ross.
Quincy next branched out into the world of publishing by releasing “Vibe” magazine in 1992 and served as the executive producer of the late night variety show “Mad TV.” As a recording artist, he enjoyed No. 1 Jazz albums with “Miles & Quincy Live At Montreux” (1991), a collaboration with Mile Davis which won a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance, “Q's Jook Joint” (1995), which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Engineered Recording (Non-Classical), and a compilation album called “From Q with Love” (1999). A chairman and CEO of Qwest Broadcasting group, one of the biggest marginal broadcasting companies in America, Jones sold his company to the Tribune Company in 1999. Two years before, in 1997, he ended his producing association with David Salzman. The two founded Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE) in the early 1990s, which produced media technology, movies, and television programs.
In 2000, Jones launched “Basie and Beyond” under Warner Bros. The album reached No. 10 on the Top Jazz Album charts. A year later, he published an autobiography, “The Autobiography of Quincy Jones,” which was accompanied by “Q: The Musical Biography Of Quincy Jones.” The compilation won Jones a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album. His new release, “Original Jam Sessions 1969,” a partnership with Bill Cosby, hit the music stores in 2004.
Jones has also continued his producing career. He executive produced the films “The Smokers” (2000), “Vacuums” (2002), “Oprah Winfrey Presents Their Eyes Were Watching God” (2005, TV), the VH-1 miniseries “Say It Loud” (2001) and the TV series “Star Camp” (2007). He is also the producer of the upcoming “Carnaval 3D: The Magic & the Music” (2008).
Jones will perform the song “Skyliner” for the motion picture “Since I Don’t Have You,” which is set to be released in 2009.
ASCAP Film and Television Music: Henry Mancini Award, 1999
PGA Oscar Micheaux: 1999
Image: Special Award, Entertainer of the Year, 1996
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 1995
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, “The Color Purple,” 1987
Women in Film Crystal: Humanitarian Award, 1986
Emmy: Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore), “Roots,” 1977