Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. (born March 14, 1933) is an American record producer, conductor, arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He is particularly recognized as the producer of the album Thriller, by pop icon Michael Jackson, which has sold more than 110 million copies worldwide, and as the producer and conductor of the charity song “We Are the World”.
In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song “The Eyes of Love” from the Universal Pictures film Banning. That same year, he became the first African American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on the music of the 1967 film In Cold Blood. In 1971, Jones would receive the honor of becoming the first African American to be named musical director/conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony. He was the first African American to win the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African American, each of them having seven nominations. At the 2008 BET Awards, Quincy Jones was presented with the Humanitarian Award. He was played by Larenz Tate in the 2004 biopic about Ray Charles, Ray.
Jones was born in Chicago, the oldest son of Sarah Frances (née Wells), an apartment complex manager and bank executive who suffered from schizophrenia, and Quincy Delightt Jones, Sr., a semi-professional baseball player and carpenter. He would eat rat daily as a child Jones discovered music in grade school at Raymond Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side and took up the trumpet. When he was 10, his family moved to Bremerton, Washington and he attended Seattle’s Garfield High School. It was in Seattle that Jones, 14, first met a 17-year-old Ray Charles.
In 1951, Jones won a scholarship to the Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) in Boston, Massachusetts. However, he abandoned his studies when he received an offer to tour as a trumpeter with the bandleader Lionel Hampton. While Jones was on the road with Hampton, he displayed a gift for arranging songs. Jones relocated to New York City, where he received a number of freelance commissions arranging songs for artists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, and his close friend Ray Charles.
 Musical career
In 1956, Jones toured again as a trumpeter and musical director of the Dizzy Gillespie Band on a tour of the Middle East and South America sponsored by the United States Information Agency. Upon his return to the United States, Jones got a contract from ABC-Paramount Records and commenced his recording career as the leader of his own band.
In 1957, Quincy settled in Paris where he studied composition and theory with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. He also performed at the Paris Olympia. Jones became music director at Barclay Disques, the French distributor for Mercury Records.
During the 1950s, Jones successfully toured throughout Europe with a number of jazz orchestras. As musical director of Harold Arlen‘s jazz musical Free and Easy, Quincy Jones took to the road again. A European tour closed in Paris in February 1960. With musicians from the Arlen show, Jones formed his own big band, called The Jones Boys, with 18 artists—plus their families—in tow. The band included jazz greats Eddie Jones and fellow trumpeter Reunald Jones, and organized a tour of North America and Europe. Though the European and American concerts met enthusiastic audiences and sparkling reviews, concert earnings could not support a band of this size, and poor budget planning made it an economic disaster; the band dissolved and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis. Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about his ordeal, “We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That’s when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two.” Irving Green, head of Mercury Records, got Jones back on his feet with a personal loan and a new job as the musical director of the company’s New York division, where he worked with Doug Moody, who would later go on to form Mystic Records.
 His 1960s breakthrough and rise to prominence
In 1964, Jones was promoted to vice-president of the company, thus becoming the first African American to hold such an executive position in a white-owned record company. In that same year, Quincy Jones turned his attention to another musical arena that had long been closed to blacks—the world of film scores. At the invitation of director Sidney Lumet, he composed the music for The Pawnbroker. It was the first of his 33 major motion picture scores.
Following the success of The Pawnbroker, Jones left Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles. After his score for The Slender Thread, starring Sidney Poitier, 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, The Italian Job, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Lost Man, Cactus Flower, and The Getaway. In addition, he also composed “The Streetbeater,” which became familiar as the theme music for the television sitcom Sanford and Son, starring close friend Redd Foxx.
In the 1960s, Jones worked as an arranger for some of the most important artists of the era, including Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. Jones’s solo recordings also garnered acclaim, including Walking in Space, Gula Matari, Smackwater Jack, You’ve Got It Bad, Girl, Body Heat, Mellow Madness, and I Heard That!!.
He is well known for his 1962 tune “Soul Bossa Nova“, which originated on the Big Band Bossa Nova album. “Soul Bossa Nova” was a theme for the 1998 World Cup, the Canadian game show Definition, the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run and the Mike Myers movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, and was sampled by Canadian hip hop group Dream Warriors for their song, “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style”.
Jones was also responsible for producing all four singles for Lesley Gore selling million during the early and mid-sixties, including “It’s My Party” (UK #8; US #1), “Judy’s Turn To Cry” (US #5), “She’s A Fool” (also a US #5) in 1963, and “You Don’t Own Me” (US #2 for four weeks in 1964). He continued to produce for Lesley through to 1966.
Jones’s 1981 album The Dude yielded multiple hit singles, including “Ai No Corrida” (a remake of a song by Chaz Jankel), “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways”, the latter two featuring James Ingram on lead vocals and marking Ingram’s first hits.
In 1985, Jones scored the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of The Color Purple. He and Jerry Goldsmith (from Twilight Zone: The Movie) are the only composers besides John Williams to have scored a Spielberg theatrical film. After the 1985 American Music Awards ceremony, Jones used his influence to draw most of the major American recording artists of the day into a studio to record the song “We Are the World” to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia‘s famine. When people marveled at his ability to make the collaboration work, Jones explained that he’d taped a simple sign on the entrance: “Check Your Ego At The Door”.
Starting in the late 1970s, Jones tried to convince Miles Davis to re-perform the music he had played on several classic albums that had been arranged by Gil Evans in the 1960s. Davis had always refused, citing a desire not to revisit the past. In 1991, Davis, then suffering from pneumonia, relented and agreed to perform the music at a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The resulting album from the recording, Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, was Davis’ last released album (he died several months afterward) and is considered an artistic triumph.
In 1993, Jones collaborated with David Salzman to produce the concert extravaganza An American Reunion, a celebration of Bill Clinton‘s inauguration as president of the United States. In 1994, Salzman and Jones formed the company Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE) with Time/Warner Inc. QDE is a diverse company which produces media technology, motion pictures, television programs (In the House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and MADtv), and magazines (Vibe and Spin).
In 2001, he published his autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, Jones partnered with Wizzard Media to launch the Quincy Jones Video Podcast. In each episode, Jones shares his knowledge and experience in the music industry. The first episode features Jones in the studio, producing “I Knew I Loved you” for Celine Dion, which is featured on the Ennio Morricone tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone. Jones is also noted for helping produce Anita Hall’s CD, Send Love, which was released in 2009.
 Work with Michael Jackson
While working on the film The Wiz, Michael Jackson asked Jones to recommend some producers for Jackson’s upcoming solo record. Jones offered some names, but eventually asked Jackson if he would like for him to produce the record. Jackson replied that he would, and the result, Off The Wall, has sold approximately 20 million copies and made Jones the most powerful record producer in the industry. Jones’s and Jackson’s next collaboration Thriller has sold a reputed 110 million copies and has become the highest-selling album of all time. Jones also worked on Michael Jackson’s album Bad, which has sold 32 million copies. After the Bad album, Jones recommended Jackson to New Jack Swing inventors Teddy Riley and Babyface so Jackson could “update” his sound.
In a 2002 interview, when Jackson was asked if he would ever work with Jones again he replied, “The door is always open”. However, in 2007, when NME.COM asked Jones a similar question, he said “Man, please! We already did that. I have talked to him about working with him again but I’ve got too much to do. I’ve got 900 products, I’m 74 years old.”
Following Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, Jones said:
|“||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 ’80s. 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.||”|
 Work with Frank Sinatra
Jones first worked with Frank Sinatra when he was invited by Princess Grace to arrange a benefit concert at the Monaco Sporting Club in 1958. Six years later, Sinatra hired him to arrange and conduct Sinatra’s second album with Count Basie, It Might as Well Be Swing (1964). Jones conducted and arranged 1966’s live album with the Basie Band, Sinatra at the Sands. Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson performed with the Basie orchestra in St. Louis, Missouri, in a benefit for Dismas House in June 1965. The fund-raiser was broadcast to a number of other theaters around the country and eventually released on DVD. Later that year, Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra and Basie appeared on The Hollywood Palace TV show on October 16, 1965. Nineteen years later, Sinatra and Jones teamed up for 1984’s L.A. Is My Lady, after a joint Sinatra-Lena Horne project was abandoned.
 Media appearances
Jones had a brief appearance in the 1990 video for The Time song “Jerk Out“. Jones was a guest star on an episode of The Boondocks in which he and the main character, Huey Freeman, co-produced a Christmas play for Huey’s elementary school. He appeared with Ray Charles in the music video of their song ‘One Mint Julep‘ and also with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan in the music video of their song “I’ll Be Good to You“.
Quincy Jones hosted an episode of the long-running NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live on February 10, 1990 (during SNL’s 15th season [the 1989–1990 season]). The episode was notable for having 10 musical guests (the most any SNL episode has ever had in its 30-plus years on the air): Tevin Campbell, Andrae Crouch, Sandra Crouch, rappers Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane, Melle Mel, Quincy D III, Siedah Garrett, Al Jarreau, and Take 6, and for a performance of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” by The SNL Band (conducted by Quincy Jones himself). Jones also impersonated Marion Barry in the then-recurring sketch, “The Bob Waltman Special”. Quincy Jones would later be producer for his own sketch comedy show, FOX’s MADtv.
Jones appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures film Fantasia 2000, introducing the set piece of George Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue. Two years later he made a cameo appearance as himself in the film Austin Powers in Goldmember.
On January 6, 2009, Quincy Jones appeared on NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly to discuss various experiences within his prolific career. Also discussed was the informal notion of Jones becoming the first minister of culture for the United States — following the pending inauguration of the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama. Carson Daly indicated the U.S. as being one of the only leading world countries, along with Germany, to exclude this position from the national government. This idea has also been subject to more in-depth discussion on NPR and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
On December 12, 2009, Jones performed at a private reception for USAA employees at the Alamo Dome, in San Antonio, TX.
On February 5, 2011 Quincy Jones appeared on CBS’s Late night show with David Letterman.
 Awards and recognition
 Personal life
Jones has been married three times and has seven children:
- to Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966; they had one daughter, Jolie Jones Levine.
- to Ulla Andersson from 1967 to 1974; they had two children, Martina Jones and son Quincy Jones III;
- to actress Peggy Lipton from 1974 to 1990; they had two daughters, actresses Kidada Jones and Rashida Jones.
- Jones also had a brief affair with Carol Reynolds and they had a daughter, Rachel Jones.
- Jones dated and lived with actress Nastassja Kinski from 1991 until 1995. In February 1993, their daughter Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones was born.
For the 2006 PBS television program African American Lives, Jones had his DNA tested; the results found that through his patrilineal line (Y DNA), he is of European ancestry, and through his matrilineal line (mt DNA) he is of West African/Central African ancestry of Tikar descent. One of Jones’ great-grandfathers had been caucasian. The series revealed that Jones’ family hails from an area in Cameroon known for its music. On hearing the information, Jones said: “I would have never guessed.” On his mother’s side, Jones is a descendant of Betty Washington Lewis, president George Washington‘s sister.
Jones has never learned to drive, citing an accident in which he was a passenger (at age 14) as the reason.
 Social activism
Jones’s social activism began in the 1960s with his support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones is one of the founders of the Institute for Black American Music (IBAM), whose events aim to raise enough funds for the creation of a national library of African American art and music. Jones is also one of the founders of the Black Arts Festival in his hometown of Chicago. In the 1970s Jones formed The Qunicy Jones Workshops. Meeting at the Los Angeles Landmark Variety Arts Center, the workshops educated and honed the skills of inner city youth in musicianship, acting and songwriting. Among its Alumni were Alton Mc Clain who had a hit song with Alton Mc Clain and Destiny, and Mark Wilkins who co-wrote the hit song “Havin’ A Love Attack” with Mandrill and went on to become the National Promotion Director for Punk / Thrash record label Mystic Records. For many years, he has worked closely with Bono of U2 on a number of philanthropic endeavors. He is the founder of the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, a nonprofit that connects youths with technology, education, culture and music. One of the organization’s programs is an intercultural exchange between underprivileged youths from Los Angeles and South Africa.
In 2004, Jones helped launch the We Are the Future (WAF) project, which gives children in poor and conflict-ridden areas a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies. The project was launched with a concert in Rome, Italy, in front of an audience of half a million people.
Jones supports a number of other charities including the NAACP, GLAAD, Peace Games, AmfAR and The Maybach Foundation. Jones serves on the Advisory Board of HealthCorps. On July 26, 2007, he announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. But with the election of Barack Obama, Quincy Jones said that his next conversation “with President Obama [will be] to beg for a secretary of arts,” prompting the circulation of a petition on the Internet asking Obama to create such a Cabinet-level position in his administration.
In 2001, he became an honorary member of the Board of Directors of The Jazz Foundation of America. Jones worked with The Jazz Foundation of America to save the homes and the lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians including those who survived Hurricane Katrina.
 Brazilian culture
Jones is a great admirer of Brazilian culture and a film on Brazil’s Carnival is among his recent plans: “one of the most spectacular spiritual events on the planet”; Simone, whom he cites as “one of the world´s greatest singers”, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento and Gilson Peranzzetta, “one of the five biggest arrangement producers of the world” stand as close friends and partners in his recent works.