Quincy Jones

Active - 1965 - 2022  |   Born - Mar 14, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Music, Drama, Mystery, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born in Chicago, African-American composer/musician Quincy Jones grew up in Seattle. An alumnus of both the Berklee School and Boston's Schillinger school of music, the 17-year-old Jones became a trumpeter/arranger for Dizzy Gillespie, then toured with Lionel Hampton before organizing his own band. From the late '50s through 1968, Jones held down executive posts at Barclay Records of Paris and Mercury Records of Hollywood. The first of Jones' jazz-dominated movie scores was for 1965's The Pawnbroker; subsequent film assignments included In Cold Blood (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967), The Wiz (1978) and The Color Purple (1984), which he co-produced. Equally active on the small screen, Jones composed theme and incidental music for the TV series I Spy and Ironside, and in 1978 won an Emmy for his work on the monumental miniseries Roots. A pioneer in the realm of music video, Jones produced and arranged the blockbuster Michael Jackson video Thriller, which earned him one of his two dozen-plus Grammies. Jones also organized and produced the all-star benefit video We Are the World, assembling a fantastic aggregation of top recording talent with the admonition "Check your vanity at the door." In 1990, Jones was the subject of the documentary film Listen Up. Quincy Jones was honored with the Jean Hersholt humanitarian award at the 1995 Academy Awards celebration. He has appeared in numerous documentaries about musicians and celebrities, and lent his vocal talents to Disney's Fantasia 2000 in 1999, and making a cameo appearance in Austin Powers in Goldmember. He contributed to the score of Get Rick or Die Tryin'.

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  • Befriended and played music with Ray Charles as a teen.
  • Began his career playing the trumpet professionally.
  • Became the first African-American to hold an executive position in a record company when he was appointed vice president of Mercury Records in 1964.
  • Had a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 1974.
  • Formed a working relationship with Michael Jackson while working on 1978's The Wiz; the two went on to collaborate on the hugely successful albums Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.
  • Launched his own record label called Qwest Records in 1981.
  • Produced the all-star recording of "We Are the World" in 1985.
  • Published a memoir in 2001, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones.
  • Has composed more than 30 scores for motion pictures, most notably E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and The Color Purple (1985), starring Oprah Winfrey; he also provided her show's theme song.
  • Humanitarian efforts include the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and the We Are the Future Project.
  • Has never learned to drive.