“Music became my mother. It never let me down.”
The legendary music producer and impresario Quincy Jones has a new book out called Q on Producing and it sounds like a blockbuster. For 60 years he’s been a creative artist with an incredible range spanning jazz, pop, soul, TV themes, and film scores. He produced the classic Thriller and We Are the World, history’s best-selling single. At 77, this dynamo is still going strong and has just released a new album. But what’s fascinating about Jones isn’t just his enormous success, it’s his passion for excellence. As a friend said, “When Quincy walks in the studio, the bar raises. He’s driven by passion and he has a lot of horsepower.”
Quincy had a rocky start and a “life with no childhood,” but by the time he was 12, he had discovered music and felt that he was destined to become an arranger and composer. When he met Ray Charles as a teenager, they bonded instantly and dreamed of achieving stardom as musicians. Together they adopted a bold pledge that became their creative mantra: “Not one drop of my self-esteem depends on your acceptance of me” — now that’s believing in yourself!
Over the years, Quincy has worked with scores of artists, often with remarkable results. He “pulls the best out of people,” says producer/engineer Bill Gibson. “His techniques are as
much about people as they are about musicianship.”
At a stage when many people are slowing down, Quincy remains more active than ever: he actively promotes music education and has plans for a Broadway musical on the history of music. He also has a deeply spiritual attitude toward artistic endeavor — one that we as writers can surely connect with: “I tell my kids and protégés, always have humility when you create and grace when you succeed, because it’s not about you. You are a terminal for a higher power. As soon as you accept that, you can do it forever.” Write on, Quincy!