Frank Sinatra called him Q…
He played with Billie Holiday, arranged for Frank Sinatra and produced Michael Jackson’s Thriller. His career spans over half a Century, and the who’s-who parade of the artists he’s worked with is far too long to list. He’s arranged for music artists, television, motion pictures and Broadway shows. Quincy Jones is music.
Yet his autobiography wasn’t just about his triumphs, but also about his misses. It read as honest and real, and as his story unfolds he openly exposes his human frailties, only making him that much more endearing as a person… not that I didn’t admire the man already.
Between chapters, Mr. Jones included what he referred to as ‘witness chapters”, which were short chapters written by significant people in his life. I felt these witness chapters helped to keep an already honest autobiography just a little more real, and were the threads that wove the story together. They provide an honest and unfiltered perspective on Quincy through the span of his life, with the most touching and honest being the chapter from his brother Lloyd Jones, shortly before his passing.
To his credit, he was respectful of everyone. I’m certain he could have dished some dirt on Michael Jackson, or Madonna (whom he had words with), but he didn’t. He was fair, and his writing shows transparent gratitude to all of the artists he interacted with throughout his career – a glimpse of his character. Even his not-so-nice step-mother was spared any unkind words. Quincy Jones is by far a class act.
In the closing acknowledgements of the book, Quincy refers to himself as a sort of “Ghetto Gump”, referencing the life of the fictional character Forrest Gump in how – through mere coincidence – he bumped into folks like Ray Charles and Billie Holiday as a kid. It was a funny comparison, but at the same time I think it had more to do with destiny. Quincy Jones was a driven man, and perhaps even a workaholic. The people he met, worked with and was associated with were – in my humble opinion – just as lucky to have him in their life stories as he was to have them in his.
Read the book. It’s good stuff.