Producer Quincy Jones was born Quincy Delight Jr. on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Quincy’s career began when he playing trumpet and arranging for Lionel Hampton (1951-1953). He then worked as a freelance arranger on many jazz sessions as well as serving as musical director for Dizzy Gillespie’s overseas big-band tour (1956), working for Barclay Records in Paris (1957-1958) and leading an all-star big band for the European production of Harold Arlen’s blues opera, “Free and Easy” (1959).
After returning to New York, Quincy composed and arranged for Count Basie, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, while holding an executive post at Mercury Records and producing his own increasingly pop-oriented records. In the mid-1960s, he began composing for films and television, eventually producing over 50 scores. He also produced Aretha Franklin’s 1973 album Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky).
In 1975, he founded Qwest Productions, for which he arranged and produced hugely successful albums by Frank Sinatra and other major pop figures. In 1978, he produced the soundtrack for the musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. In 1982, Quincy produced Jackson’s all-time best-selling album Thriller.
In 1985, Quincy collaborated with other recording artists to record the song “We Are the World” to raise money for people living with famine in Ethiopia. His work on behalf of social causes has spanned his career, including the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, which built more than 100 homes in South Africa in 2001. The charity aims to connect youths with technology, education, culture and music and sponsors an intercultural exchange between teens in Los Angeles and South Africa.
Other Ventures and Controversial Interviews
Quincy also produced the 1985 film The Color Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, as well as the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996), starring Will Smith. He also published the magazines Vibe and SPIN, and in 1990 he formed Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), a co-venture with Time Warner Inc. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones was published in 2001.
In a GQ interview published in early 2018, the music icon said he liked contemporary artists like Bruno Mars, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, but admitted he was no fan of Taylor Swift’s music, saying, “We need more songs, man. F—ing songs, not hooks.” In another interview, published in Vulture around the same time, he alleged that Michael Jackson “stole a lot of songs” and that Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor had slept together.
The legendary producer released a statement shortly afterward in which he apologized for “bad-mouthing” others, signing off with: “I encourage you all to please grow with me & keep on keepin’ on. Love, an 85-year-old bow-legged man who is still learning from his mistakes.”
In September 2018, a documentary entitled Quincy was released by Netflix. The film was co-directed by his daughter, actress Rashida Jones.
Spouses and Children
Quincy has been married three times. His first marriage was to Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966; they had one daughter together named Jolie. Jones was then married to Ulla Andersson, with whom he shares a son, Quincy, and a daughter, Martina, from 1967 to 1974. Jones’ final marriage was to actress Peggy Lipton. The pair were married from 1974 to 1990, and they have two daughters, Rashida and Kidada. He also has two daughters from other relationships.