Billion-Dollar Maestro: Quincy Jones

1933:
Quincy Delight Jones Jr. is born in Chicago.

1951:
Jones abandons his studies at the Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) in Boston when he receives an offer to tour as a trumpeter with the bandleader Lionel Hampton.

1956:
Jones joins Dizzy Gillespie’s U.S. State Dept. tours of South America and the Middle East, learning the skills to lead a jazz orchestra.

1957:
Jones settles in Paris where he studies composition and works as a music director for Barclay Disques, Mercury Records’ French distributor.

1963:
Jones wins the first of his many Grammys for his Count Basie arrangement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Jones produces the hit record “It’s My Party” for teen singer Lesley Gore. He is also responsible for producing Gore’s other 3 million-selling singles: “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool” and “You Don’t Own Me.”

1967:
Jones and songwriting partner Bob Russell become the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Oscar for original song (“The Eyes of Love” from Universal’s “Banning”). He is also nominated for original score for “In Cold Blood,” making Jones the first African-American to be nominated twice in the same year.

1969:
Jones’ “Walking in Space” studio album is released. It features an iconic photo of Jones designed by Pete Turner who made some of the most famous A&M album covers.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin plays Jones’ arrangement of “Fly Me to the Moon,” recorded by Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra. It is the first music played on NASA’s first lunar landing mission.

1971:
Jones is named the first African-American musical director for the 43rd Annual Academy Awards.

1978:
Jones supervises and produces music for the film “The Wiz,” starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

1979:
Jones co-produces with Michael Jackson “Off the Wall.” The album includes such hits as “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You.”

1980:
Jones is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording.

1982:
Along with Jackson, Jones produces “Thriller,” which remains the best-selling album of all time. “Thriller” has been certified platinum (1 million units sold) in the U.S. 29 times as of 2009, according to RIAA. Billboard, citing SoundScan figures, reported two years after Jackson’s death that the album had sold about 2 million more.

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