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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: 3 / 9)

Music Impresario

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  Quincy Jones

Was there room for anything but survival in your mind then?

Quincy Jones: Nothing but survival. There was no medium ground. So in the search for your identity you had to be in constant action, trying to do something. We were so young the girls wouldn't pay any attention to us. The girls loved all the young sailors who came through town, so we used to go visit the destroyers and battleships and aircraft carriers. It was a big navy town, and during the war America was very gung ho, and they were the heroes. The black sailors and soldiers were very stylish. They had the hats that were really cool, and bloused their pants down over their boots. They were always immaculate and had a lot of style. So the girls just walked all over us little bumpkins. I still have pictures of me waiting on the porch of this little girl named Sara Ann. She didn't give me the time of day. We couldn't get arrested. But you were trying to just figure out what you're supposed to be doing in life. You don't know. You can't get a legitimate job.

I finally got a job when I was 11; this guy named Roscoe asked me to press clothes. You know, I was some nice cheap labor there. And, I had a little raggedy bike and so after I pressed and did a pretty good job, he says, "Well, you know, why don't you take them to be cleaned now and you can fill out the bills and put the paper sack over it and deliver them." At 11 years old I was running that whole business for him, and I was proud of that and I was happy that I was capable of being responsible for something and useful.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

I hadn't discovered music yet. It's funny the things that you remember from those days. There was a big armory up there where everybody played basketball; it was a community center really. There was an army camp right there, because Seattle and Bremerton were hot spots during the war. That's where the ships left to go to the Pacific, so things were happening all the time. We'd break into this armory at night, and we'd eat lemon meringue pie and ice cream, and when we got too tired of eating it we'd start to play -- throw it at each other and whatever trouble you could get in, just awful.

One night we went and broke in another door, and I broke into this door and there was a piano there, and I just walked around the room to see what was there first, and then hands kind of hit the keyboard and I remembered from Chicago next door when I was a kid, there was a little girl named Lucy that used to play piano, and it brought everything back because I was never very good at music when I was little. I never paid any attention to it in school. And, from that moment on when I touched those keys, I said, "This is it. I'm not going to do the other thing again. I'm going here." And, that's what happened.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Quincy Jones Interview Photo
I got in the school band and the school choir. It all hit me like a ton of bricks, everything just came out. I played percussion for a while, and stayed after school forever just tinkering around with different things, the clarinets and the violins. I couldn't get into that at all. I finally found the B flat baritone horn, Sousaphone, B flat alto peck horn. I chose the trombone because the trombone players in the marching band got to be up front with the majorettes (because of the slides) and I loved that! My heart was really with the trumpets, but they were too far back. I finally got to the trumpet and I said. "That's what I really feel."

Were there any people who particularly inspired you?

Quincy Jones: I was inspired by a lot of people when I was young, every band that came through town, to the theater, or the dance hall. I was at every dance, every night club, listened to every band that came through, because in those days we didn't have MTV, we didn't have television. The communication for music was through Downbeat magazine, or the grapevine, and what was happening in New York. Radio dealt with it a little bit. We used to pick up a few jazz stations from San Francisco. You could hear some of the new music that was out.

The record stores in those days had big glass booths and you could go in and listen to the record, put earphones on. And I couldn't afford to buy them, so I just stayed in the music store all day and just listened to all of the latest records. And in those days they had five record companies, only five record companies. So, anybody that was even recording was automatically a giant. On Decca Records, everybody was - Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald - just the greatest musicians that ever lived, on each label. So, there wasn't too much Russian roulette going on in records those days. Whoever was signed and made records was really pretty phenomenal.

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