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If you like Quincy Jones story, you might also like:
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Quincy Jones also appears in the video:
Crossroads of My Life

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Quincy Jones in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Pursuing a Career in Music

Related Links:
Quincy Jones Music
A Passion for Jazz

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Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
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Quincy Jones Interview (page: 2 / 9)

Music Impresario

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Quincy Jones Interview Photo
My brother died of cancer two years ago (1998), renal cell carcinoma. He was my only real brother and I didn't know what to do. I'd never been so desperate in my life. So we went everywhere, to Sloan Kettering, to UCLA, and we saw the best people we could, but it was too late. Dr. Dean Ornish is a good friend of mine; he had studied my brother's case and he said, "We're dealing with equal parts of medical disease, nutrition and psychology. There's a balance. You have to play with all three almost on an equal level to deal with it properly."

My mother was out of the sanitarium then. She had followed us to Seattle and there was always a conflict between her and my stepmother. I didn't particularly like either one, and I couldn't deal with either one. She was not really a nice lady, the stepmother. Dean was trying to cure my brother, and this is key, he said, "You can never see your mother again," because he knew my brother took everything in the chest. "You can't deal with it," he said. And my brother said, "I bet you I can," and he stayed in Seattle.

I asked Dean, "How did this happen? We came up in the same environment, how could he be so vulnerable to this and just eat it all and take it in and internalize it and have it turn against him like this and take his life? He's younger than I am. I'd give half of my body right now to save his life. How did I miss it?" And he said, "Somehow, in trying to survive you found a way to totally transfer everything involving your mother into your music or your creativity."

I used to go in a little closet, a little tiny closet that had four barrels with some two-by-fours and a workbench on it, and just sit there and just turn the world off every time the pain came in and go inside and just -- since I was very young -- just to take all the negative things and the painful things and take that and convert it into something beautiful and positive. So, I could feel that if I turned it on myself, in toward bitterness, it would kill me, it would take me out like it did my brother.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

I had transferred all of the need of what we didn't have, so I didn't need it anymore because I had something else that was beautiful, it was mine, I could always depend on. I could always go there no matter what happened, racial things or whatever happened. I could go there and it would be okay. It was my own little world and I could make it what I wanted it to be.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Quincy Jones Interview Photo
We spent most of our life almost like street rats just running around the street until we were ten years old. My father worked for Julian Black, the people that ran Joe Louis's life. Joe Louis lived in one of the buildings we lived in. And after one of the fights he gave the gloves to my father. And a kid down the street had a BB gun that I wanted and so when my father went to work I took the gloves and traded the gloves for the BB gun. And my father wore my tail out and went over to get the gloves back, and when he came back, he came back with my stepmother who was his mother, who was not really a very charming lady. She was rough. She made our life pretty rough.

My father was a carpenter, a very good carpenter. He also worked for the Jones boys. They were not family members, we weren't related at all. They started the policy racket in Chicago, and they had the five and dime store. They used to call it the "V" -- like the "V and X store," you know, for roman numerals. We loved all this drama. All kids love that.

We used to go to a place called Drexel Wine and Liquor. We would go up these big steps, and the administrative office was upstairs. You'd see everything you saw on Elliot Ness, The Untouchables. Two-way mirrors and so forth, tommy guns and hats and cigars. We loved it. You know, all kids love that. And, we couldn't understand why daddy wanted to keep us away from that element. So one day he said, "Let's get out of here." And, I think what happened is Capone took over the policy racket from the Jones boys. The Jones boys had to leave town fast and we were right behind them because daddy worked with them. So, he came and picked us up from the barber shop. "I have to get -- we have to go get our toys." "Forget that. We're going straight to a Trailways bus." And, the bus took us out to Bremerton, Washington - Seattle Washington.

We stopped in Idaho and we got out to eat, [but] they wouldn't let us eat at the white places so we had to go find a black family. You have to remember, this is the day when there was no TV, no MTV. You had nothing to hold on to your identity with. The books were "See Jane Run. See Spot," and so forth, and nothing about black history or anything. You're talking about 1943. And radio was Blondie and Dagwood and Gabriel Heater, and I Love a Mystery. And, the black figures there were Rochester, Beulah and Amos and Andy, who were white, [Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll]. And so it was very -- at the time you don't recognize it, but you're trying to say "Who the hell am I?" you know, "What are we about?" You know, if you don't have a mother there that leads you down that road you're trying to figure out who you are and so, we spent half of our life trying to figure out what was up, what we were all about. Now we go from the biggest ghetto in Chicago to being the only three black kids in Navy Yard City, and there's a serious contrast. And, it dances on your head a little bit because we carried switchblade knives in those days and the kids in Bremerton didn't know what they were. So we had -- no, you couldn't use fear anymore like they used on us in Chicago. You just keep going.

We got into all the trouble you could ever imagine. We figured that if the Jones boys and all the gangsters ran Chicago, we had our own territory now. All the stores, all the crime, we were in charge of everything, my stepbrother and my brother. It's amazing how much trouble you can get in when you don't have anything else to do. We'd take chickens in the new apartments and we'd cook them. We didn't know what we were doing. We stole a box of honey jars one time and went out in the woods and took care of the whole box. I don't think I touched honey again for 20 years. I never wanted to see honey again.

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This page last revised on Aug 26, 2015 19:12 EDT
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