This Day In History: March 14th
With a reputation for working with musical talents including Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, it is no wonder why Quincy Jones is considered a pioneer in the music industry. Jones entered the music business with no real knowledge of the industry and was able to establish a career, unlike many others.
Jones was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, but his family relocated to Washington, where he studied the trumpet. He continued his musical studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, until leaving to tour with Lionel Hampton and his band.
After touring, he moved to New York and his reputation as an arranger grew once he arranged a record for Dinah Washington. The record turned out to be a big success which prompted the growth of his career and by the mid-1950s, he was arranging and recording for a variety of artists. Jones decided to continue his musical education by studying with Nadia Boulanger, a renowned French composer.
He returned to the United States in 1961 and became an A&R director for Mercury Records. Jones earned the position of vice president in 1964 and was one of the first African-Americans to be a top executive at a record label. His talents also allowed him to produce Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) and the star-studded charity recording of “We Are the World” (1985). Jones even began composing music for films.
The success Jones found in music also crossed over to the big screen. In 1985, he co-produced Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Five years later, he established Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), and served as CEO and chairman. The company is responsible for the production of the hit television show, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. During this time, Jones also founded Vibe Magazine (which was later sold in 2006).
Jones has been nominated for more than 75 Grammy Awards and has won more than 25. He added the author and Kennedy Center Honors award winner to his list of accomplishments in 2001. He also received the National Medal of Arts in 2010 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
Without the contributions of Jones, the music industry would be missing many songs that are considered classics. The mogul was introduced to a new audience in 2018 when his story was told in the documentary Quincy. The film was directed by his daughter, actress Rashida Jones and debuted on Netflix.