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Quincy Jones was born on the South Side Chicago, Illinois on March 14, 1933. His family lived in a poor area and Jones was drawn into gang life as a young child. At the age of 10 he moved to Washington and he spent the rest of his childhood in Seattle. Jones learned to play the trumpet at school and continued under the instruction of Clark Terry. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. At the age of 19, Jones traveled to Europe with a touring band, exposing him to new types of music and different cultures. His career took off in the 1950s as a jazz arranger and conductor, arranging music for such acts as Ray Charles and Duke Ellington among many others. In 1956 he played in the band of the CBS Stage Show for a time. Beginning in 1957 he continued his musical studies in France under Nadia Boulanger and worked with many European recording artists while he was there.
Jones joined Mercury Records and later became the vice president in 1961, making him the first African American executive at a major record company. Throughout the 60s he also began working on film scores.
In 1985 he served as co-producer of the Spielberg film The Color Purple based on the novel by Alice Walker, beginning an illustrious career as a film producer. In 1990, he founded Quincy Jones Entertainment a multimedia entertainment company focusing on film and television. He served as CEO and chairman of the company. Jones has also co-produced several popular TV shows including Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In the House and Mad TV. In 1991, he expanded into print media by launching VIBE Magazine. Ten years later, he wrote his best-selling autobiography“Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones”. Jones has served as an executive producer on many important television events, including An American Reunion in 1993 and the Academy Awards in 1996. Jones produced some of Michael Jackson’s most acclaimed albums: Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad and the best-selling song We Are the World. He has also worked with music legend Frank Sinatra.
Throughout his career Jones has received countless awards and accolades. He is the most Grammy-nominated artist with 79 nominations and 27 wins, including the Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2103. He and songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original score and Jones is tied for the second most Oscar-nominated African American with seven nominations after Denzel Washington’s nine.
Jones is also a strong supporter of social causes. His activism began in the 1960s when he was a supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He went on to found several projects supporting Black Americans in music and the arts. He is a supporter of a number of charities including NAACP, GLAAD, AmfAR, We Are the Future and HealthCorps among others.
Though Jones struggled financially early in his career his projects began to pay off, making his estimated net worth $400 million.
Jones has been married three times. His first marriage was with Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966. Shortly after divorcing Caldwell he married Swedish actress Ulla Andersson. After their divorce in 1974 he married Peggy Lipton and the two remained married until 1990.
Jones was born to Quincy Delight Jones Sr, a semi-professional baseball player and carpenter, and Sarah Frances, a bank officer. His parents divorced when he was young and his father married Elvera Jones, giving Quincy three step-siblings. Jones’ grandmother was born a slave in Kentucky and was freed later in life, serving as an example that greatness can come from the most humble beginnings.
Jones has fathered seven children, six daughters and one son. One of his daughters with Lipton, Rashida Jones, is a well-known actress. In 2018, she produced a biographical movie about her father titled Quincy.
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