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Music / Quincy Jones

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Quincy Delight Jones Jr. (born March 14, 1933), also known as "Q", is an American record producer, composer, and musician. Born in Chicago, he started out in jazz and got his big break in film scores, starting with The Pawnbroker. Among the films he's scored include In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, Cactus Flower, The Out-of-Towners, The Color Purple (1985), and many more. During this time period he started branching out into collaborating and arranging with the day's biggest artists, including Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington... it would almost be quicker to list great musicians he hasn't worked with. One of his longest and most-publicized collaborations was with Michael Jackson, which started with The Wiz. Jones would go on to get Jackson signed onto Epic Records, producing his solo albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad.

He has some surprising connections in the music world. In particular, his Warner (Bros.) Records imprint, Qwest, was the U.S. distributor for English Alternative Dance band New Order (and its predecessor Joy Division) from 1985 until the label's initial closure in 2000. Jones, a fan of the band, caught onto their growing popularity among urban black listeners in the '80s, with their 1983 single "Confusion" being especially popular among breakdancers, and scored a deal with the Manchester quartet to give them far greater levels of US distribution than what they had previously received on the comparatively small American branch of Factory Records. Jones also produced the 1988 remix of the band's Signature Song "Blue Monday", gushed about the band in the 1993 NewOrderStory documentary, and supervised the production of the 1995 US release of the Greatest Hits Album (the best of) NewOrder (which was given a significantly different tracklist than the 1994 British release to make it stand out more from their earlier compilation Substance, which was still in print at the time).

Another fairly leftfield connection of Jones' (at least to modern audiences) is with actor and rapper Will Smith. Jones, who served as the executive producer of and musical composer for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, met Smith at a house party in 1989 and suggested that he audition for the show based on a junked spec script for a pilot that would've starred Prince associate and The Time frontman Morris Day. Smith had already been suggested to appear on the show by co-creator Benny Medina, but was reluctant to take up the role due to his lack of acting experience; it was Jones' recommendation that encouraged Smith to audition for the show, which in turn led to the rapper becoming one of the most famous black TV actors since Bill Cosby, paving the way for him to become a major Hollywood actor independent of his music career. So if there's anyone to thank for Will Smith's acting fame, it's Quincy Jones.

All in all, Jones's career has spanned over sixty years, and a record 80 Grammy Award nominations (with 28 wins).

Jones has seven children, a few of whom are famous in their own right — his son with Ulla Andersson (also named Quincy) is also a record producer, and his daughters with Peggy Lipton, Rashida and Kidada, are actresses. He is the topic of Rashida Jones's Grammy-winning documentary, Quincy.

Solo Discography

  • Jazz Abroad (1955)
  • This Is How I Feel About Jazz (1956)
  • Go West, Man! (1957)
  • Quincy's Home Again (1958)
  • The Birth of a Band! (1959)
  • The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones (1959)
  • I Dig Dancers (1960)
  • Around the World (1961)
  • The Quintessence (1961)
  • Big Band Bossa Nova (1962)
  • Quincy Jones Plays Hip Hits (1963)
  • Quincy Jones Explores the Music of Henry Mancini (1964)
  • Golden Boy (1964)
  • Quincy Plays for Pussycats (1965)
  • Quincy's Got a Brand New Bag (1965)
  • Walking in Space (1969)
  • Gula Matari (1970)
  • Smackwater Jack (1971)
  • You've Got It Bad Girl (1973)
  • Body Heat (1974)
  • Mellow Madness (1975)
  • I Heard That!! (1976)
  • Sounds... and Stuff Like That!! (1978)
  • The Dude (1981)
  • Back on the Block (1989)
  • Q's Jook Joint (1995)
  • Basie & Beyond (2000)
  • Q: Soul Bossa Nostra (2010)

Tropes in his music:

  • Career-Ending Injury: He was forced to quit playing the trumpet after suffering a near-fatal aneurysm in 1974. The doctors had to implant a steel plate which they feared could come loose if he were to play again. He has since turned to producing music, with his solo discography featuring him working as an arranger with minimal performance roles.
  • Cover Version: "Ai no Corrida" was originally by Chaz Jenkel of Ian Dury and The Blockheads, while "I'll Be Good to You" was first performed by the Brothers Johnson.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Jones composed and performed the theme song to Sanford and Son, "The Streetbeater".
  • Rearrange the Song: He owned New Order's record label in the US, Qwest Records, and remixed "Blue Monday" as "Blue Monday 1988" to promote the band's singles compilation Substance (which featured the original version of the song).
  • Self-Titled Album: Several of his album titles have his full stage name (e.g. Quincy Jones Plays Hip Hits), his first name (e.g. Quincy's Home Again) or his nickname Q (e.g. Q's Jook Joint).
  • Special Guest: Thanks to his clout as a highly successful jazz and R&B artist, Jones built up a sizable list of connections in the Black music world throughout the '70s and '80s, inviting many of them to play on his various projects as both a producer and a solo artist. This is most prominently illustrated with Back on the Block, which includes vocal and instrumental contributions from some of the biggest names in jazz, R&B, and Hip-Hop at the time, including Ray Charles, Ice-T, Al B. Sure!, Herbie Hancock, and Miles Davis (among countless others).
  • Theme Tune Extended: Sanford and Son's "The Streetbeater" was extended to three minutes and included on Jones' 1973 album You've Got It Bad, Girl.