Quincy Jones is one of the most accomplished musicians of all time, winning 28 Grammy Awards for arranging, composing and producing music ranging from jazz and pop to R&B and hip-hop. He has worked with legends such as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and most notably Michael Jackson, producing three of the biggest albums from the King of Pop. Q also created scores for movies as well as produced television shows and films.
Quincy Delight Jones Jr. was born on March 14, 1933 on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. After his parents divorced, Quincy moved with his father Quincy Sr. to Seattle, where he attended Garfield High School and began playing jazz music. After receiving scholarships from Seattle University and the Schillinger House (renamed Berklee College of Music) in Boston in 1951, Jones left school to play in Lionel Hampton’s jazz band. After touring the world in the 1950s with different bands, Jones was given a vice president role at Mercury Records in 1961. During the 1960s, he composed film scores for several films while releasing his own albums and producing for other artists, most notably Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “It’s My Party.”
The 1970s saw Jones continue to score films, release his own jazz albums and create compositions such as “The Streetbeater” in 1972, which would become the theme song for the television show Sanford and Son. Despite having a brain aneurysm in 1974 and being advised to slow down his workload, he also established his Qwest Productions company in 1975 to work on more projects, including the soundtrack to the 1978 film The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
In December 1978, Jones connected with Jackson to begin creating the album Off the Wall, which was released in the summer of 1979 and sold over 20 million albums worldwide. The Jackson/Jones combo would work together into the 1980s on 1982’s Thriller, which would go on to become the best-selling album of all time with approximately 70 million albums sold, as well as 1987’s Bad, which sold over 45 million albums. Between those two albums, Jones also produced the charity single “We Are the World” in 1985, which was co-written by Jackson and Lionel Richie. That same year, Jones co-produced the film The Color Purple, which featured breakthrough performances from Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg.
In 1989, Jones released the album Back on the Block, which was a mixture of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop, and it won the Album of the Year Grammy Award in 1991. The 1990s saw Q get into television production through his Quincy Jones Entertainment partnership with Time Warner. His company produced Will Smith’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, LL Cool J’s In the House and the sketch comedy show MadTV. He also co-founded Vibe magazine in 1993.
Jones has been involved in many charities and philanthropic endeavors through his Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation. He was given the Grammy Legend Award in 1992 and inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a winner of the Ahmet Ertegun Award in 2013. He is on the prestigious EGOT list as he won a Primetime Emmy in the Outstanding Music Composition for a Series category for Roots in 1977, 28 Grammy Awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 1995 Oscars, and a Tony for the Best Revival of a Musical for The Color Purple in 2016. He has seven children, including actress Rashida Jones, and his son, music producer QDIII.