Quincy Jones has worked with countless world stars and is considered one of the greatest producers in music history. He also sang, composed and wrote books himself.
Whether Michael Jackson, George Benson, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee or Ella Fitzgerald: they have all worked with Quincy Jones.
The music mogul, who is one of the most important producers in the history of the industry, turns 90 this Tuesday (March 14) – but feels “like 37”, as he recently emphasized in an interview.
The birthday is to be celebrated in July at two concerts in Los Angeles. Jones had already given himself a symphony concert in Paris in 2019, where his greatest hits such as “Billie Jean”, “Give Me the Night” or “Fly Me to the Moon” were performed in previously unheard arrangements. This also resulted in a documentary film. Jones is “the one and only,” the musicians repeatedly say.
Producer by Michael Jackson
Born in Chicago in 1933, Jones has led a band, performed as a solo artist and sideman, written, produced and arranged songs, run a record label, composed film scores, written books, directed feature films and co-developed television series. However, Jones is best known for one of the most famous albums in pop history: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” from 1982, which Jones produced.
Jones discovered his love of music by accident as a child, when he sat at a piano for the first time. Later he also played trumpet and sang in a gospel group, received a scholarship to Barklee College of Music in Boston.
He soon found himself in New York, arranging tracks for Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey and Dinah Washington, and leading Dizzy Gillespie’s band as a trumpeter. He continued to perfect his game with lessons from Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In 1961, Jones was appointed Vice President at Mercury Records – becoming the first African American musical director of a major US record label. According to his own statements, he still had to struggle with racism again and again.
Won 28 Grammys
Jones has been nominated for a Grammy 80 times and has won the trophy 28 times – only George Solti (31) and most recently Beyoncé (32) have received more.
With the Jackson albums “Off The Wall”, “Thriller” and “Bad” (1987) Jones had reached the peak of the pop music business. He has also had success in other industries: the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple”, producer of the TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, editor of the music magazines “Vibe” and “Spin”. Among the charitable work, the benefit single “We Are the World” with Jackson and Lionel Richie was remembered. In part, Jones came across as some kind of unofficial cultural ambassador for the United States.
Never lonely, never bored
In the end, there seemed to be almost nothing Jones hadn’t done or experienced in US entertainment – and he apparently likes to hear himself talk about it. He unpacks anecdotes about the Beatles, Prince, David Bowie and rapper Tupac Shakur, but also about Malcolm X, Elon Musk, Truman Capote, Buzz Aldrin and his numerous affairs.
With all these encounters and achievements, it is “hard to believe that they are all the experiences of one man,” wrote the magazine “GQ” after an interview. Jones later said his daughters told him not to spill the beans in interviews. Jones has been married three times and has seven children. “I’ve never been lonely in my life and I’ve never been bored.” (dpa)