Qunicy Jones, a global artist and entertainer
*On this date in 1933, Quincy Jones was born. He is an African American musician, composer, producer, and arranger.
Quincy Delight Jones, Jr., was born on Chicago's South Side. When he was ten he moved, with his father and stepmother, to Bremerton, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. He first fell in love with music when he was in elementary school. He tried nearly all the instruments in his school band before settling on the trumpet. While barely in his teens, Jones made friends with a local singer-pianist, Ray Charles. The two formed a combo, eventually landing small club and wedding gigs. At 18, Jones won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out abruptly when he received an offer to go on the road with bandleader Lionel Hampton. The job with Hampton led to work as a freelance arranger.
Jones moved to New York City, where, throughout the 1950s, he wrote charts for Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington, Cannonball Adderley and Ray Charles. In 1956, he was performing as a trumpeter and music director with the Dizzy Gillespie band on a State Department-sponsored tour of the Middle East and South America. Shortly after his return, he recorded his first albums as a bandleader for ABC Paramount Records.
In 1957, Jones moved in Paris studying composition with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. He also worked as music director for Barclay Disques, Mercury Records' French distributor. As musical director of Harold Arlen's jazz musical Free and Easy, Jones toured Europe closing in Paris in 1960. With musicians from the Arlen show, Jones formed his own big band, with 18 players and their families. European and American concerts met enthusiastic audiences and great reviews, yet could not support a band of this size and it dissolved.
After a personal loan from Mercury Records head Irving Green, Jones went to work in New York as music director for the label. In 1964, he became vice-president of Mercury Records, the first African-American to hold such an executive position in a white-owned record company. That same year, Jones began working on film scores. With director Sidney Lumet, he composed the music for The Pawnbroker. It was the first of his 33 major motion picture scores. Jones left Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles. After his score for The Slender Thread, he was in constant demand as a composer. His film credits in the next five years included Walk Don't Run, In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, A Dandy in Aspic, MacKenna's Gold, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, The Lost Man, Cactus Flower, and The Getaway.
For television, Jones wrote the theme music for Ironside, Sanford and Son, and The Bill Cosby Show. The 1960s and '70s he was a major supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Operation Breadbasket. After Dr. King's death, Jones served on the board of Rev. Jesse Jackson's People United to Save Humanity (PUSH).
Jones also helped form IBAM (the Institute for Black American Music). He is also one of the founders of the annual Black Arts Festival in Chicago. In 1973, Jones co-produced the CBS television special Duke Ellington, We Love You Madly, leading the orchestra. From 1969 to 1981 he recorded a series of Grammy-winning albums. These included Walking in Space, Gula Materi, Smackwater Jack, and Ndeda. 1973's You've Got It Bad, Girl (marking his recording debut as a singer).
In August 1974, Jones suffered a near-fatal cerebral aneurysm. After two operations and six months of recuperation, the albums Mellow Madness, I Heard That, and the Dude were created. Jones went back into the studio to produce Michael Jackson's first solo album Off the Wall. They teamed again in 1982 to make Thriller. His debut as a filmmaker occurred in 1985 when he co-produced Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple.
In 1993, Quincy Jones and David Salzman staged the concert spectacular "An American Reunion" to celebrate the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. They soon formed a permanent partnership called Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE). The company, in which Jones serves as co-CEO and chairman, encompasses multi-media programming for current and future technologies, including theatrical motion pictures and television. QDE also publishes Vibe magazine and produced the popular TV series Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
At the same time, Jones runs his own record label, Qwest Records and is chairman and CEO of Qwest Broadcasting, one of the largest minority-owned broadcasting companies in the United States. The all-time most nominated Grammy artist with a total of 76 nominations and 26 awards, Quincy Jones has also received an Emmy Award, seven Oscar nominations, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. His life and career were chronicled in 1990 in the critically acclaimed Film Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones.
ACSAP Biographical Dictionary
R. R. Bowker Co., Copyright 1980