Quincy Jones waxes poetic about his early days

Quincy Jones was in an especially open mood Feb. 6 at L.A.’s Village Recorder studios, where he was being honored, along with Al Schmitt, by the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing.

The 27-time Grammy winner, who turns 80 this year, talked about growing up in Chicago under the influence of some very rough characters, including the black mob that ruled his neighborhood. “I’ve been around gangsters all my life,” he said. “It’s not my fault.” In fact, it was during a burglary he was committing with some cohorts that he discovered a piano, which roused his curiosity. “I touched the keys to that piano, and every drop of blood in my body said, ‘This is what you’ll do for the rest of your life.’ “

He also described his early days touring as a teen in Lionel Hampton’s band, like being “Liberace in Boys Town.”

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