Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (1990)

PG-13 | 115 mins | Documentary | 23 September 1990

Full page view
HISTORY

Quincy Jones’s story is told in a montage of images and voices, without regard to chronology. Songs, Hollywood film clips, old home movies, and recording artists are used as a kind of “Greek chorus.” Several publications, including the 3 Sep 1990 Var, 5 Oct 1990 LAT and Nov 1990 Box, remarked on the film’s “kaleidoscopic” quality and “seemingly random editing.” Some organization of material was required in the writing of the Summary by AFI Catalog.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Courtney Sale Ross first approached Quincy Jones in 1985 with the idea of making a film about him, but Jones turned her down. Director Ellen Weissbrod was originally the project’s co-producer before she took over the documentary’s direction. Principal photography took place between early Feb to October 1989 in Chicago, IL; Paris, France; Mexico; San Francisco, CA; New York City; and Los Angeles, CA, where Jones was currently producing his Back on the Block album. Though Michael Jackson agreed to be interviewed, he demanded that all lights be turned off and no cameras used.
       An item in the 15 Oct 1990 Var hinted that despite poor attendance, The Lives of Quincy Jones was not moved to a smaller New York City theater to make way for another independent film because of pressure from distributor Warner Bros. Producer Courtney Sale Ross was the wife of Time Warner boss Steve Ross.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “Very special thanks to: The Quincy Jones Family: Lloyd, Gloria, Sarah, Jolie, Rachel, Tina, Quincy D. III, Kidada, Rashida, Donovan and Sonny; Quincy Jones Productions: Kimiko Jackson, Louise ... More Less

Quincy Jones’s story is told in a montage of images and voices, without regard to chronology. Songs, Hollywood film clips, old home movies, and recording artists are used as a kind of “Greek chorus.” Several publications, including the 3 Sep 1990 Var, 5 Oct 1990 LAT and Nov 1990 Box, remarked on the film’s “kaleidoscopic” quality and “seemingly random editing.” Some organization of material was required in the writing of the Summary by AFI Catalog.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Courtney Sale Ross first approached Quincy Jones in 1985 with the idea of making a film about him, but Jones turned her down. Director Ellen Weissbrod was originally the project’s co-producer before she took over the documentary’s direction. Principal photography took place between early Feb to October 1989 in Chicago, IL; Paris, France; Mexico; San Francisco, CA; New York City; and Los Angeles, CA, where Jones was currently producing his Back on the Block album. Though Michael Jackson agreed to be interviewed, he demanded that all lights be turned off and no cameras used.
       An item in the 15 Oct 1990 Var hinted that despite poor attendance, The Lives of Quincy Jones was not moved to a smaller New York City theater to make way for another independent film because of pressure from distributor Warner Bros. Producer Courtney Sale Ross was the wife of Time Warner boss Steve Ross.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “Very special thanks to: The Quincy Jones Family: Lloyd, Gloria, Sarah, Jolie, Rachel, Tina, Quincy D. III, Kidada, Rashida, Donovan and Sonny; Quincy Jones Productions: Kimiko Jackson, Louise Velasquez; Record One Studios: Alan Sides, Clarisse Sayadian, Patti Metroulas, Lotti Kierkegaard. Thanks to: AB Films; Dr. Elsie Georgi; Eric Albertson; Mike Greene; Eddie Barclay; Seth Grossman; George Benson; Thomas Galino; Frederic Bourboulon; Jean-Pierre Leloir; Bev Brooks; Leslie Morris-Johnson; Frank Casey; Francis and Anita Paudras; Cary Davis; Susan Reynolds; Brigitte De Cirugda; Lionel Richie; Kent Devereaux; Bruce Ricker; Digital Recorders; Rail Rogut; Mirielle Durand; Gavin Schutz; Tom Finerty; Arnie Shopak; Jim Flamberg; Bruce and Bea Swedien; Buff Francuz; Tarpan Studios; Garden Rake Studio; David Waterston; Westlake Audio. Still photographs courtesy of: Lee Baiterman, Library of Congress, Jack Delana; Bengt H. Malmquist; Josh Fay; Audrey Miller; Lorraine Gillespie; Quincy Jones Productions; Milt Hinton; James R___; Jolie Jones; Seattle Black Historical Society; Lloyd Jones; Albert J. Smith; Russell Lee; Chuck Stewart; Herman Leonard; Wide World Photos; Jean-Pierre Leloir. Film footage courtesy of: A&M Records, Inc.; Archive Film Productions, Inc.; BMI; Clemson Brown/Transatlantic Productions; Rudy Burckhardt; Cable News Network; CBS News; Chertok Associates, Inc.; Margaret Childress; Chuck Olin Associates; Cinemed; Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.; Emil Davidson/Marco Productions; Sara Diamond/The Paternity Project; Dick Clark Media Archives; Don Cornelius Productions; Globalvision, Inc.; Linda Hughes; Rev. Jesse Jackson/The PUSH Foundation; Lorimar Telepictures; MJJ Productions, Inc.; Motown Productions; NASA; National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc.; The National Archives; NBC News Video Archives; Chan Parker; Pathe Pictures, Inc.; Francis Paudras; Pierre Cassette Productions; Quincy Jones Productions; Republic Pictures Corporation; Research Video; Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries, Inc.; Southern Illinois University School of Medicine; Television Program Enterprises; United Artists Pictures, Inc.; Universal City Studios, Inc.; UPA Productions of America; USA for Africa; Warner Bros., Inc.”
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1989
p. 1, 8
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1990
p. 35
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1990
p. 6, 16
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1990
p. 8.
New York Times
3 Oct 1990
p. 14
New York Times
10 Oct 1990.
---
Variety
2 May 1990
p. 170
Variety
3 Sep 1990
p. 75
Variety
15 Oct 1990
p. 336
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Michael Jackson
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Courtney Sale Ross Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Line prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Gaffer
Gaffer
2d elec
2d elec
2d elec
2d elec
Grip
Still photog
Still photog
Still photog
Video services
Video services, National Video Industries
Video services, National Video Industries
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative matching
Negative matching, Tim Brennan
Negative matching
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus clearances
"Back On The Block" mus rec and mixed by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles des by
Opt printing
Addl opt printing
Addl opt printing, Moses Weitzman
Addl opt printing
Addl opt printing, Bill Brand
Opening title seq
Opening title seq, Rob Luttrell
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Film and photo research
Post-prod services
Rights clearances
Prod accountant
Home movie footage courtesy of
Home movie footage courtesy of
Home movie footage courtesy of
Home movie footage courtesy of
Tech dir
COLOR PERSONNEL
Video to film transfer
Internegative and answer printing
Film timing
Film processing
Film processing
Film processing
Film printing
SOURCES
SONGS
"Listen Up" (instrumental version, written and produced by Arthur Baker and Arif Mardin, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc. The following recordings were provided courtesy of Quest Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products: "I Don't Go For That," written by Ian Prince, performed by Siedah Garrett and Ian Prince
"I'll Be Good To You," written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Senora Sam, performed by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan
"Prologue" (2 Q's Rap), written by Quincy Jones and Antonio Hardy, performed by Quincy Jones and Quincy D. III
+
SONGS
"Listen Up" (instrumental version, written and produced by Arthur Baker and Arif Mardin, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc. The following recordings were provided courtesy of Quest Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products: "I Don't Go For That," written by Ian Prince, performed by Siedah Garrett and Ian Prince
"I'll Be Good To You," written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Senora Sam, performed by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan
"Prologue" (2 Q's Rap), written by Quincy Jones and Antonio Hardy, performed by Quincy Jones and Quincy D. III
"Back On The Block," written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Siedah Garrett, Caiphus Semenya, Ice-T, Melle Mel, Antonio Hardy and Mohandas DeWese, performed by Ice-T, Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, and Tevin Campbell
"Jazz Corner Of The Word" (Introduction to "Birdland"), written by Quincy Jones, Mohandas DeWese and Antonio Hardy, performed by Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane
"Birdland," written by Josef Zawinul, performed by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, George Benson, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane
"Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)," written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Siedah Garrett, performed by Tevin Campbell
"We B. Dooinit," written by Quincy Jones, Siedah Garrett and Ian Prince, performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Siedah Garrett, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Take 6 and Sarah Vaughan
"Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)," written by Ivan Lins and Gilson Peranzzetta, performed by Sarah Vaughan and Take 6
"Prelude To The Garden," written by Jorge Calandrelli
"The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)," written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Siedah Garrett and El DeBarge, performed by El DeBarge, James Ingram, Al B. Sure! and Barry White
"One Man Woman," written by Ian Prince, Siedah Garrett and Harriet Roberts, performed by Siedah Garrett
"The Places You Find Love," words and music by Glen Ballard and Clif Magness, African lyrics by Caiphus Semenya, Swahili translation by Sarah Abukutsa, performed by Siedah Garrett, Chaka Khan, All Star Choir conducted by Quincy Jones and Andrae Crouch Singers conducted by Andrae Crouch
"How Do You Keep The Music Playing?," written by Michel LeGrand, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, performed by James Ingram. The following recordings were provided by arrangement with Warner Special Products: "Let The Good Times Roll," written by Sam Theard and Fleecie Moore, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
"Somewhere," written by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, performed by Aretha Franklin, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., "Give Me The Night," written by Rod Temperton, performed by George Benson. The following recordings were provided by A&M Records: "Killer Joe," written by Benny Golson, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones
"Sanford And Son Theme," written by Quincy Jones
"The Dude," written by Quincy Jones, Patti Austin and Rod Temperton, produced by Quincy Jones
"Body Heat," written by Bruce Fisher, Quincy Jones, Leon Ware and Stanley Richardson
"Boyhood To Manhood" (from the mini-series Roots ), written and produced by Quincy Jones, Bill Summers and Zak Diouf
"What Can I Do? (Hush, Hush, Somebody's Calling My Name)," (from the mini-series Roots ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Razzamatazz," written by Rod Temperton, produced by Quincy Jones
"Theme From Ironside, " written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Hikky Burr" (Theme From The Bill Cosby Show ), written by Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby, produced by Quincy Jones
"Walking In Space," written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones
"Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me," written by Stevie Wonder and Stephanie Andrews, produced by Quincy Jones
"Is It Love That We're Missin'?," written by George Johnson and Debbie Smith-Johnson, produced by Quincy Jones. The following recordings were provided by PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.: "Kansas City Wrinkle," written and arranged by Quincy Jones, performed by Count Basie and His Orchestra
"Talking Drums" (from the motion picture The Hot Rock ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Parole Party" (from the motion picture The Hot Rock ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Dead Duck" (from the motion picture Mirage ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Theme from The Pawnbroker" (from the motion picture The Pawnbroker ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Otez' Night Off" (from the motion picture The Pawnbroker ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Rack 'Em Up" (from the motion picture The Pawnbroker ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Harlem Drive" (from the motion picture The Pawnbroker ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Birth Of A Band," written and arranged by Quincy Jones
"The Gypsy," written by Billy Ried, arranged by Quincy Jones
"Change Of Pace," written by Quincy Jones and Harry Arnold
"Air Mail Special," written by Charlie Christian, Jimmy Mundy and Benny Goodman, arranged by Quincy Jones
"Psychosis" (from the motion picture The Slender Thread ), written by Quincy Jones
"Aftermath" (from the motion picture The Slender Thread ), written by Quincy Jones
"Under Paris Skies," written by Kim Gannon, Hubert Giraud and Jean Andre Brun, arranged by Quincy Jones
"Kingfish," written by Quincy Jones, performed by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra
"One Note Samba," written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Newton Mendonca, arranged by Quincy Jones
"Tin Tin Deo," written by Walter Fuller and Chano Pozo, performed by Dizzy Gillespie
"Long Long Summer," written by Lalo Schifrin, performed by Dizzy Gillespie
"The Midnight Sun Will Never Set," written by Quincy Jones, Dorcas Cochran and Henry Salvador, performed by Sarah Vaughan
"The Midnight Sun Will Never Set," written by Quincy Jones, Dorcas Cochran and Henry Salvador, performed by Quincy Jones
"Teach Me Tonight," written by Sammy Cahn and Gene De Paul, performed by Dinah Washington
"Everybody's Blues," written by Ernie Wilkins, performed by Quincy Jones
"It's My Party," written by Herb Weiner, John Gluck and Wally Gold, performed by Leslie Gore
"You Don't Own Me," written by John Madara and David White, performed by Leslie Gore. The following recordings were provided by CBS Records, Music Licensing Department: "It's Like Reaching For The Moon," written by Al Sherman, Al Lewis and Gerald Marquese, performed by Billie Holiday
"Battle Of Swing," written and performed by Duke Ellington
"God Bless The Child," written by Arthur Herzog, Jr., and Billie Holiday, performed by Billie Holiday
"Thriller," written by Rod Temperton, performed by Michael Jackson
"Smooth Criminal," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"The Way You Make Me Feel," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Beat It," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Bad," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Billie Jean," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Working Day and Night," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," written and performed by Michael Jackson
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," written by James Ingram and Quincy Jones, performed by Michael Jackson
"Man In The Mirror," written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard, performed by Michael Jackson. The following recordings were provided by RCA Records: "The Lost Man Theme" (from the motion picture The Lost Man ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Slum Creeper" (from the motion picture The Lost Man ), written and produced by Quincy Jones
"Messy But Good" (from the motion picture For Love of Ivy ), written by Quincy Jones
"Something Strange" (from the motion picture For Love of Ivy ), written by Quincy Jones
"Dancin' Pants," written by Jimmy Giuffre, performed by Quincy Jones
"Hard Sock Dance," written by Quincy Jones and Ernest Bailey
"Emerald City Gold Sequence" (from the motion picture The Wiz ), written by Quincy Jones and Charlie Smalls, performed by The Emerald City Citizens
"Ease On Down The Road" (from the motion picture The Wiz ), written by Charlie Smalls, performed by Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. The following recordings were provided by arrangement with CEMA Special Products: "Pennies From Heaven," written by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston, produced by Quincy Jones, courtesy of EMI, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Jessica's Day," written by Quincy Jones, performed by Count Basie and His Orchestra, courtesy of Blue Note Records, a division of Capitol Records
"Straighten Up And Fly Right," written by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills, performed by Nat King Cole, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. The following recordings were provided by MGM/UA Communications Co.: "In The Heat Of The Night" (from the motion picture In the Heat of the Night ), written by Quincy Jones, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, performed by Ray Charles
"No You Won't" (from the motion picture In the Heat of the Night ), written by Quincy Jones
"Whipping Boy" (from the motion picture In the Heat of the Night ), written by Quincy Jones
"Why Daddy?" (from the motion picture They Call Me Mr. Tibbs ), written and produced by Quincy Jones. The following recordings were provided by Warner Bros. Inc.: "Maybe God Is Tryin' To Tell You Somethin'" (from the motion picture The Color Purple ), written by Quincy Jones, Andrae Crouch, William Maxwell and David Del Sesto, produced by Quincy Jones
"Letter Search" (from the motion picture The Color Purple ), written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Jeremy Lubbock and Joel Rosenbaum. Additional musical selections: "Clutter Family Theme" (from the motion picture In Cold Blood ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Arista Records
"Perry's Theme" (from the motion picture In Cold Blood ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Arista Records
"Down Clutter Lane" (from the motion picture In Cold Blood ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Arista Records
"In Cold Blood" (from the motion picture In Cold Blood ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Arista Records
"Murder Scene" (from the motion picture In Cold Blood ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Arista Records
"Money Runner" from the motion picture $ ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Columbia Pictures
"Main Title Collage" from the motion picture $ ), written by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Columbia Pictures
"We Are The World," written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, performed by USA for Africa, courtesy of USA for Africa
"Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)," written by Bart Howard, performed by Frank Sinatra and The Count Basie Orchestra
"I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good," written by Duke Ellington and Paul Webster, performed by Duke Ellington, courtesy of RCA Records
"Livin' In America," written by David Foster, Rod Temperton, Steve Lukather, Quincy Jones and Donna Summer, performed by Donna Summer, courtesy of Donna Summer
"Ai No Corrida," written by Kenny Young and Chaz Jankel, performed by Flavor Flav
"One Foot In The Gutter," written by Clark Terry and Oscar Brown, Jr., performed by The Clark Terry Quartet with Thelonious Monk, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
"Blowing The Blues Away," written by Billy Eckstine and Jerry Valentine, performed by Billy Eckstine, courtesy of G.W.I., Inc.
"Body And Soul," written by Edward Heyman, John Green, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton, performed by Billy Eckstine
"Hot Mallets," written and performed by Lionel Hampton
"Slide Hamp Slide," written by Lionel Hampton and Milt Buckner, performed by Lionel Hampton
"Hot House," written by Tad Dameron, performed by Charlie Parker
"Tenderly," written by Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross, performed by Dizzy Gillespie
"Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen," performed by Dizzy Gillespie
"Oh Happy Day," written by Edwin R. Hawkins, performed by Hubert Laws
"Happy Birthday To You," written by Patty S. Hill and Mildred J. Hill
"Listen Up" (vocal version), written by Arthur Baker, Arif Mardin, Karisma, Siedah Garrett, Judy Titus and Benny Medina, produced by Arthur Baker and Arif Mardin, performed by Tevin Campbell, Siedah Garrett, Karyn White, Al B. Sure!, The Winans, James Ingram, El DeBarge, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, Melle Mel and Ray Charles, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
+
PERFORMERS
+
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Back on the Block With Quincy Jones
Places You Find Love
Release Date:
23 September 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 23 September 1990
New York Film Festival screening: 3 October 1990
Los Angeles opening: 5 October 1990
Production Date:
early February - October 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Cort Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 December 1990
Copyright Number:
PA499480
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
115
Length(in feet):
10,362
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30611
SYNOPSIS

Veteran musician, composer and producer Quincy Jones, Jr., says he “blanked out” a lot of his early life. His younger brother, Lloyd Jones, remembers that he and Quincy were often home alone when they were children because their father was always working. Their mother, Sarah, disappeared when Quincy was seven, and he recalls accompanying their father to the state mental hospital to see her. When he later had to write a song for the film In Cold Blood (1967, see entry) that a mother would sing to a child, he had no memory of his own mother singing to him. After visiting with a neighborhood lady who played stride piano when he was a child, Quincy Jones walks through rooms of an empty house where he grew up. Without a close maternal relationship in his formative years, he later had difficulty living with women. Blind singer-pianist Ray Charles records in a studio as Quincy feeds him lines through headphones. Quincy remembers boxing champion Joe Louis giving him an old pair of boxing gloves, but the boy traded them to a neighbor for an air rifle. When his father, Quincy Jones, Sr., went to retrieve the gloves, he fell in love with Elvira, the other boy’s mother, and she became Quincy’s stepmother. Elvira’s children told Quincy that his mother was crazy and would create trouble when she got out of the hospital, so when Sarah Jones once visited the house, Quincy was frightened of her. He grew up in a tough neighborhood. Going to school one day, he walked past a corpse with an ice pick in its neck. Director Sidney Lumet ... +


Veteran musician, composer and producer Quincy Jones, Jr., says he “blanked out” a lot of his early life. His younger brother, Lloyd Jones, remembers that he and Quincy were often home alone when they were children because their father was always working. Their mother, Sarah, disappeared when Quincy was seven, and he recalls accompanying their father to the state mental hospital to see her. When he later had to write a song for the film In Cold Blood (1967, see entry) that a mother would sing to a child, he had no memory of his own mother singing to him. After visiting with a neighborhood lady who played stride piano when he was a child, Quincy Jones walks through rooms of an empty house where he grew up. Without a close maternal relationship in his formative years, he later had difficulty living with women. Blind singer-pianist Ray Charles records in a studio as Quincy feeds him lines through headphones. Quincy remembers boxing champion Joe Louis giving him an old pair of boxing gloves, but the boy traded them to a neighbor for an air rifle. When his father, Quincy Jones, Sr., went to retrieve the gloves, he fell in love with Elvira, the other boy’s mother, and she became Quincy’s stepmother. Elvira’s children told Quincy that his mother was crazy and would create trouble when she got out of the hospital, so when Sarah Jones once visited the house, Quincy was frightened of her. He grew up in a tough neighborhood. Going to school one day, he walked past a corpse with an ice pick in its neck. Director Sidney Lumet marvels at the violence Quincy Jones wrote into his film score for Lumet’s The Pawnbroker (1964, see entry). Quincy speculates that if the family had stayed in Chicago, he would likely have gone bad and died young, but instead they moved to Bremerton, Washington, not far from Seattle. Quincy Sr. encouraged his son’s interest in music, and Quincy often escaped the chaos of living in an extended family by retreating to a dark closet, the most soothing part of the house, to listen to jazz records. After being arrested for marijuana possession at fourteen and a brief jail sentence, Quincy avoided trouble. He found a French horn and taught himself to play it. He learned to write music, and later, when he befriended Seattle musicians Ray Charles and trumpeter Clark Terry, he mastered the trumpet. Quincy lectures contemporary young rappers and hip-hop artists on nurturing their minds and bodies and determine their own future. Quincy went to work at age eleven, pressing pants in a laundry, and then shined shoes for pimps. At his mostly white high school, he ran for class president and won. By age fifteen, he played trumpet in a local big band and performed in a nightclub with legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. He also played with young Ray Charles and transcribed the blind pianist’s complex chord structures on paper. After regular clubs closed for the night, they went to an after-hours bebop club and mingled with top black musicians. As a teenager, he briefly joined Lionel Hampton’s band, but Hampton’s manager-wife, Gladys, ordered the boy off the bus for being too young. After finishing high school, Quincy Jones attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, until he received a 1951 telephone call from Lionel Hampton to come to New York and join his band. There, Quincy played with Hampton at Birdland, “the mecca of what modern jazz was all about.” Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker often joined the band for a couple of songs. However, Quincy resented the silly uniforms Hampton made him wear, and went out of his way not to be seen by the “cool cats” like bebop trumpeters “Dizzy” Gillespie and Miles Davis. Early on, Quincy Jones became a mentor to underprivileged children and embraced black American culture, which he claims is alien to most white Americans. He learned to deal with racism by channeling his anger and frustration into music. Quincy recalls playing “one-nighters” throughout the segregated South, when African American had to stay in “colored” motels and were not allowed inside roadside diners. He later used the fear of being in the South when he wrote the score for In the Heat of the Night (1967, see entry). Quincy listened to the civil rights messages of Malcolm X, Reverend Martin Luther King, and later, Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He was nineteen when he first toured Europe with Lionel Hampton’s band, and felt suddenly relaxed because he did not have to look over his shoulder out of racial anxiety. Europeans understood black jazz before Americans did. Quincy later returned to France to study music, and considers it a second home, where he feels comfortable. Europe and its acceptance helped define his place in the world. In 1956, when Quincy Jones toured the world with Gillespie’s big band as American “ambassadors,” he noticed that people who hated his home country’s politics nonetheless embraced black American music. Later, in 1959, he organized his own big band and toured Europe, allowing his musicians to bring their families along. However, Quincy ignored the financial realities of taking a big band on the road. Without a manager or agent, he booked poor venues, ran out of money, and stranded his musicians. To get everyone home, he was forced to sell his music publishing company. Quincy says he came close to suicide. Fortunately, Mercury Records president Irv Green hired him as an artists and repertoire (A&R) man. Quincy objected to the nine-to-five schedule, the requirement to wear Italian suits, and the daily reports that had to be completed, but he got to work with top talent, including Dinah Washington, a singer he first recorded in 1954. Word got around the music industry about the hot young black producer and arranger. Frank Sinatra recalls how Quincy Jones could quickly fix or redo an arrangement in the studio. Quincy learned to personalize arrangements for whatever artists he worked with, by seeking the right tempos, the right keys, and the right musicians to back them up. In time, Quincy worked with superstars like Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, and Michael Jackson, who trusted his taste and professionalism. Irv Green put him in charge of a young white pop singer named Leslie Gore. Arranging her recording of “It’s My Party” gave Quincy his first number-one hit on the national music charts. After scoring his first film, The Pawnbroker, for Sidney Lumet, he departed both Mercury Records and his second marriage to move to Hollywood, but despite the success of The Pawnbroker, he remained jobless for two years, until director Richard Brooks hired him to score In Cold Blood. Then came In the Heat of the Night. Ten years later, Quincy Jones composed and recorded the score for Roots, a revolutionary 1977 television miniseries about American slavery. Despite his success and status, however, Quincy was reminded of his race when armed guards in his wealthy neighborhood almost shot him one night, thinking he was robbing his own house. Soon he became tired of the creative cage of “synchronization”—matching music with images onscreen, instead of letting it flow. Quincy says he had trouble keeping marriages together, because he treated music as his first love and lived like a single man. He was always a “ladies man.” His first wife, Jeri, was his high school sweetheart, but they married too young. Then he married Ulla, a Swedish model, but knew within weeks it was a mistake. His third marriage to white actress Peggy Lipton was more stable, because she had been a successful actress and knew the pressures of fame. Quincy’s daughter, Jolie, from his first marriage arranged his first date with Lipton. In the 1970s, Quincy suffered a near-fatal brain aneurism that required two operations. After a brief hiatus, He produced the multi-million-selling record album, Thriller, by singer-dancer Michael Jackson, who met Quincy while he scoring Jackson’s film, The Wiz (1978, see entry). Michael Jackson became an international star, transcending the limits imposed on American black artists. Jackson and Quincy Jones wrote and produced “We Are the World,” a hit single and video designed to raise awareness of and money for USA for Africa, a relief organization. However, Quincy Jones’s third marriage ended, and his life fell apart. Gradually, Quincy worked his way back and “balanced” his life by spending more time with children and grandchildren, who gather for his fifty-seventh birthday party. It is a great contrast to his fifth birthday, when young Quincy’s mother threw his coconut-sprinkled birthday cake off the back porch because it had “hair” on it. He says he has come to an understanding of his mother and forgives her. These days Quincy Jones is working on a “dream” album project called Back on the Block with many contemporary artists. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.