Quincy Jones Jr. (1933- )

Quincy Jones
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Composer, conductor, trumpeter, producer, and civil rights activist Quincy Delight Jones, Jr., who composed scores for 33 major motion pictures, including In the Heat of the Night and In Cold Blood, was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois to Quincy Delight Jones Sr., from Charleston, South Carolina, and Sara Frances Wells Jones from Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Quincy’s early education began at Raymond Elementary School in Chicago, where he studied the trumpet. From 1941 to 1943, during the illness of their mother, Quincy and his brother lived with their maternal grandparents, Mary Lanier Wells and Love Adam Wells, in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1943, when he was 10, he and his brother, his father, and the father’s new wife, Elvera Ricketts Jones, from Distrito de Panamá, Panamá, moved to Bremerton, Washington, and later to Seattle.

Jones graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle in 1951 and received a scholarship to Seattle University. Upon completing the first semester, however, Jones transferred with another scholarship to Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1952 at the age of 19, he left Schillinger to perform with Lionel Hampton in Europe. Four years later in 1956, Jones became the trumpeter and music director with the Dizzy Gillespie band on a State Department-sponsored tour of the Middle East and South America. In 1957, Jones married Jeri Caldwell, his high school sweetheart, and relocated to Paris, France, to work as a staff arranger for the Disques Barclay label, the French distributor for Mercury Records. While there he studied composition with composer and conductor Mademoiselle Nadia Boulanger.

In 1960, at the age of 27, Jones created his first band, The Jones Boys, with 18 artists. He also became a significant financial supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Operation Breadbasket founded in 1962 to create economic opportunities in Black communities. In 1963, Jones won his first Grammy at the 5th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Count Basie‘s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and was nominated for Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Original Jazz Composition for “Quintessence.”

In 1964, Jones became the first African American to hold the position of vice president of Mercury Records. Five years later, in 1969, Jones’ first studio album, Walking in Space, was released and stayed on the main Billboard Album charts for 27 weeks, and won a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

In 1979, Jones collaborated with Michael Jackson on the album Off The Wall, which sold 20 million copies. Three years later, he collaborated again with Jackson on the album Thriller, which sold 104 million copies and became one of the best-selling albums of all time. In 1985, Jones produced the single “We Are The World” (aiding the victims of the famine in Ethiopia at the time), which peaked at no. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, and remained on the charts for 18 weeks. He also wrote the sound track for Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker.

Jones, who has been married three times, is the father of seven children: Jolie Jones Levine, Rashida Jones, Kidada Jones, Kenya Kinski-Jones, Quincy Jones III, Rachel Jones, and Martina. He has won an Emmy, received seven Oscars, 28 Grammy Awards, has 80 Grammy nominations, the Grammy Living Legend Award, and 13 honorary doctorates. In 2008, Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. was inducted into the California Hall of Fame at the California Museum in Sacramento, California.