Friday, March 14, 2014
Born in Chicago in 1933, Jones moved with his family to Washington and got involved in Seattle’s jazz scene while he was in high school. There he met and befriended Ray Charles when they were both in their teens. Upon graduation, Jones went on scholarship to Schillinger House of Boston, which is now the Berklee College of Music. He left school for a professional career when he got an opportunity to tour as a trumpeter. It was during this time that he began arranging songs as well, which allowed him the chance to work with a wide range of famous musicians.
In the 1960s, Jones turned his attention to film scores, beginning with Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker in 1964, the same year he broke racial boundaries by becoming the first African-American vice president of Mercury Records. He worked on a number of soundtracks and scores throughout the 1960s and 1970s while also recording his own music and producing albums for other musicians. Some of the artists he worked with were his friend Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, Count Basie,Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra.
As impressive as Jones’s career was to that point, he got his biggest break when he served as musical supervisor on the film The Wiz, an African-American version of The Wizard of Oz. Although the film itself did not fare particularly well, it was Jones’s first chance to work with Michael Jackson, who played the Scarecrow in the movie. When Jackson asked for suggestions on who should produce his upcoming solo album, Jones offered to do it himself. That album became the smash success Off the Wall. The pair would collaborate again on Jackson’s next two albums: Thriller (now the bestselling album of all time) and Bad (the first album to produce five Number One singles).
Throughout his career, Quincy Jones has woven a rich and varied musical tapestry. To discover more of his work, SmartBrowse his name on our website.