Quincy Jones, one of the world’s most influential musicians, will be the guest of honour at a birthday party like no other tonight. Corinne Bailey Rae, Jess Glynne, Mick Hucknall, Lalah Hathaway, Beverley Knight and 20,000 music fans will pile into the O2 in London to celebrate Jones’ 85th birthday year.
Jones is a master of many talents – a composer, artist, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, entrepreneur, humanitarian and record, film, and TV producer – whose music crosses and fuses genres.
His legacy includes 28 Grammy Awards, 40 film scores and countless hits.
Jones started his career as a jazz musician: he played trumpet in high school and studied at the Berklee School of Music before dropping out to tour with renowned band leader Lionel Hampton. It was on the road with Hampton that Jones’ gift for arranging came to the fore and commissions from Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Dinah Washington soon followed.
“Anything I can feel, I can notate musically,” Jones is on the record as saying. “Not many people can do that. I can make a band play like a singer sings. That’s what arranging is, and it’s a great gift.”
After a brief stint, while still in his 20s, as vice president of Mercury Records, Jones dedicated himself to arranging, composing and producing, most notably for Michael Jackson (Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad).
He enjoyed fruitful working relationships with many talents – Ray Charles, Sinatra and Jackson – but his most significant professional partnership was with songwriter Rodney Temperton. Originally the keyboardist and main songwriter for the band Heatwave, Temperton’s hits include Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, Thriller and Rock With You.
The Temperton/Jones partnership is considered one of the most successful in music history. Temperton died in 2016 and Jones says tonight’s gig is as much about celebrating his lifelong friend’s musical contribution as it is about him.
“I know this show is going to be an emotional one for me because we’ll be doing a tribute to my brother Rod Temperton, on his home turf,” he says. “I love and miss him with all of my heart and soul, but I’m definitely looking forward to sharing such a special moment with his home country.”