Quotes by Quincy Jones

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Excellence isn't an act, it's a habit more...

We were in the heart of the ghetto in Chicago during the Depression, and every block - it was probably the biggest black ghetto in America - every block also is the spawning ground practically for every gangster, black and white, in America too. more...

I was raised in Chicago and I guess that was one of the special breeding grounds for gangsters of all colors. That was the Detroit of the gangster world. The car industry was thugs. more...

Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old shared a little of what he is good at doing. more...

When I was 13, I started working in a nightclub with Ray Charles. That's the greatest school in the world, the school of the streets. Ray taught me how to read in Braille. He was only two years older than me, but it was like he was 100 years older. more...

Every day, my daddy told me the same thing. 'Once a task is just begun, never leave it till it's done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all.' more...

I tell my kids and I tell proteges, 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. more...

Playing the game, and unfortunately, playing the gangster game is very profitable. more...

I believe in astrology as much as I do in genetics. more...

Seattle is like a global gumbo, a melting pot with all kinds of people - the rich, the poor, white people, some Chinese, Filipino, Jewish and black people - they're all here. more...

To me it's no accident that all the symphony orchestras around the world tune up to the note A. And A is 440 cycles, except in Germany where it's 444. But the universe is 450 cycles. So what I'm trying to say is, I think it's God's voice, melody especially. Counterpoint, retrograde inversion, harmony... that's the science and the craft. more...

I'm Pisces with Leo rising. The Pisces part is the dreamer. The Leo says, 'Let's execute.' more...

I believe that a hundred years from now, when people look back at the 20th century, they will look at Miles, Bird, Clifford Brown, Ella and Dizzy, among elders as our Mozarts, our Chopins, our Bachs and Beethovens. more...

If architecture is frozen music then music must be liquid architecture. more...

Music was the one thing I could control. It was the one world that offered me freedom. When I played music, my nightmares ended. My family problems disappeared. I didn't have to search for answers. The answers lay no further than the bell of my trumpet and my scrawled, pencilled scores. Music made me full, strong, popular, self-reliant and cool. more...

Few rappers realize the genre sprang from West African griots through Delta slave songs to jazz poetry and the comedic trash talk of 'the dozens.' more...

I found this out over the years, that racism is a thinly veiled disguise over economics and money. It really is. more...

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. more...

Everybody has their idiosyncrasies. more...

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. more...

I guess hip-hop has been closer to the pulse of the streets than any music we've had in a long time. It's sociology as well as music, which is in keeping with the tradition of black music in America. more...

I have all the tools and gadgets. I tell my son, who's a producer, 'You never work for the machine; the machine works for you.' more...

I'm a great believer in letting lyrics just flow out, wherever they come from. more...

It's amazing how much trouble you can get in when you don't have anything else to do. more...

You cannot get an A if you're afraid of getting an F. more...

After I learned the piano, I went on to learn percussion, the tuba, b-flat baritone, French horn, trombone, trumpet, most of the instruments in the orchestra. Trumpet was my instrument. more...

The relationship with a producer and an artist is really special.It's got to be love and respect, amazing mutual respect for each other, because that's what makes a good record. more...

It's very freaky in Chicago.There's something in the water there, I don't know what it is. But the actual word Chicago means, in the Indian language, garlic. It was just garlic and mosquitoes there.And that is the roughest city on the planet, and I been to every place in the world. more...

My daddy was a carpenter that worked with the Jones boys, who are the most notorious in America. The black gangsters, you know, they were no joke. And he was their master carpenter. He used to build their homes, and all I saw when I was 11 years old were dead bodies and tommy guns and stogies, and backrooms, you know, Drexel Wine and Liquor, with the big piles of money underneath. more...

I go to the favelas in Brazil. It's the same in the South Side of Chicago. It's the same, or just more violent. We're trying to get them to stop selling dope. You see kids with AK-47s, and nine-year-olds with nine millimeters. You know, they don't play. They make us look like nuns. more...

If I don't have a mother, I'll let music be my mother. more...

I never felt like that in my life. I didn't know human beings played these instruments. I heard them in Chicago and Louisville and St. Louis all my life, you know? But I didn't know human beings played them, you know? So the next day I went to Coontz Junior High School and I started on sousaphone, tuba, B-flat baritone, E-flat alto, French horn, trombone. more...

I got to trumpet, finally. That's why I love to write for brass, and [Count] Basie and [Frank] Sinatra and all that stuff, 'cause that's just like part of my DNA. more...

Thank God, 50 years ago I learned that a great song, our entire business is all based on two things; a great song and a great story. Film, television, if you don't have that story, nothing else matters. You don't call anybody else or direct anybody. The same with a song. A great song can make the worst singer in the world a star. more...

A bad song, the three best singers in the world cannot save it, and that's the bottom line. more...

Empty the cup every time and it comes back at twice as full. I developed that attitude when I was very, very young, when I decided I didn't want to be a gangster anymore. Whether it's just shining shoes, I said okay, I'm going to do this better than anybody else did it in my life. more...

I learned real early why God gave us two ears and one mouth, because you're supposed to listen twice as much as you talk. more...

It has been proven time and time again in countless studies that students who actively participate in arts education are twice as likely to read for pleasure, have strengthened problem-solving and critical thinking skills, are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.... more...

I don't deserve a Songwriters Hall of Fame Award. But fifteen years ago, I had a brain operation and I didn't deserve that, either. So I'll keep it. more...

When you're over the hill, that's when you pick up speed. more...

Hell, nobody knows where jazz is going to go. There may be a kid right now in Chitlin Switch, Georgia, who is going to come along and upset everybody. more...

I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, "Ain't that the truth." more...

The people who make it to the top - whether they're musicians, or great chefs, or corporate honchos - are addicted to their calling ... [they] are the ones who'd be doing whatever it is they love, even if they weren't being paid. more...

You have to know that your real home is within. more...

Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind. more...

The only music I don't like is bad music. more...

Editing while you're writing is like strangling the baby in the crib. more...

When I was about five or seven years old my mother was placed in a mental institution and so we were with our father who worked very hard, and we had to figure a lot of things out more...

Not one ounce of my self worth depends on your acceptance of me. more...

There's nothing in the world worse than having an opportunity that you're not prepared for. Good luck usually follows the collision of opportunity and preparation - it's a result of that collision. You've got to be prepared. So, make your mistakes now and make them quickly. If you've made the mistakes, you know what to expect the next time. That's how you become valuable. more...

I tell my kids and I tell proteges, always have humility when you create and grace when you succeed, because its not about you. You are a terminal for a higher power. As soon as you accept that, you can do it forever. more...

Music was the one thing I could control. It was the one world that offered me freedom. When I played music, my nightmares ended. My family problems disappeared. I didnt have to search for answers. The answers lay no further than the bell of my trumpet and my scrawled, pencilled scores. Music made me full, strong, popular, self-reliant and cool. more...

Im probably the only one in the world you can name thats worked with Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Ella, Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Ray Charles, Aretha, Michael Jackson, rappers. Fly Me to the Moon was played on the moon by Buzz Aldrin. Sinatra. Paul Simon. Tony Bennett. Im the only one. more...

Billy Strayhorn wrote Multicolored Blue. Billy to me is the boss of the arrangers. more...

Without the Fender bass, there'd be no rock n' roll or no Motown. The electric guitar had been waiting 'round since 1939 for a nice partner to come along. It became an electric rhythm section, and that changed everything. more...

I didn't understand key signatures or anything, you know. I'd say silly things at the top of a trumpet part like, 'Note, when you play B naturals, make the B naturals a half step lower because they sound funny if they're B naturals.' And some guy said: 'Idiot, just put a flat on the third line and it's a key signature, you know?' more...

Frank Sinatra took me to a whole new planet. I worked with him until he passed away in '98. He left me his ring. I never take it off. Now, when I go to Sicily, I don't need a passport. I just flash my ring. more...

I'm probably the only one in the world you can name that's worked with Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Ella, Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Ray Charles, Aretha, Michael Jackson, rappers. 'Fly Me to the Moon' was played on the moon by Buzz Aldrin. Sinatra. Paul Simon. Tony Bennett. I'm the only one. more...

When you work with Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine and Frank Sinatra, and you tell them to jump without a net, you better know what you're talking about. Thank God I was ready for it. more...

Working with kids in Soweto in South Africa, it's rough out there. But the bottom line is you've got to go to know. In Cambodia, there are 10,000 landmines. Same in Afghanistan, same in Colombia. I'm totally addicted to traveling. more...

I lost my mother when I was 7 and they put her in a mental hospital. My brother and I watched her being taken away in a strait jacket. That's something you never forget. And my stepmother was like in the movie 'Precious.' I couldn't handle it. So I said to myself, 'I don't have a mother. I don't need one. I'm going to let music be my mother.' more...

I've never been bored in my life, man. I've never been bored or lonely. Are you kidding? No way! I'm an orchestrator, a musician, a producer. I love everything. I've studied languages from Farsi to Greek to French, Swedish, Russian... How can you get bored? more...

Melody is king, and don't you ever forget it. Lyrics appear to be out front, but they're not; they're just an accompanying factor. If they're good, you're really in good shape. Lyrics are written to be rewritten. more...

My grandmother had this high-tech security system - a rusty nail she used to lock the door. more...

I'm a tremendous believer and supporter in hip-hop and rap. more...

A great song can make a terrible singer sound good, but a good singer - you put a great song on top of that, you're really in great shape! more...

I hope that on my tombstone it says 'Born 1933, died 2043.' I hope that's my legacy. more...

I met Ray Charles at 14, and he was 16. But he was like a hundred years older than me. more...

I went with Lionel Hampton for three years. Out of that came a trip to Europe. more...

I got a scholarship to Seattle University and I was writing arrangements for singers and everybody. But the music course was too dry and I really wanted to get away from home. more...

I like all music. The only music I don't like is bad music. more...

I'm not a psychiatrist. more...

Sidney Poitier and Sidney Lumet were instrumental in helping me get started as the first black composer to get name credit for movie scores. more...

The climate in the '50s and '60s for black performers or black people in the entertainment business was atrocious. It was atrocious. more...

We spent most of our life almost like street rats just running around the street until we were ten years old. more...

When you produce an album, you're dealing with it theatrically. It has to have a structure, and the inner response to that is that the ear loves it. more...

You make your mistakes to learn how to get to the good stuff. more...

Young people should travel, and they don't. You can't know if you don't go. more...

If you started in New York you were dealing with the biggest guys in the world. You're dealing with Charlie Parker and all the big bands and everything. We got more experience working in Seattle. more...

I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music - gospel, blues, jazz and R&B - is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I'm telling you. more...

Everybody, no matter what vocation they're looking at, should add music as an essential to their curriculum. Music can be a very important part of your soul and your growth as a human being. It's so powerful. more...

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. more...

When I was about five or seven years old my mother was placed in a mental institution and so we were with our father who worked very hard, and we had to figure a lot of things out. more...

I was reading Omar Khayyam, Kahlil Gibran, Rumi, L. Ron Hubbard, all sorts of philosophy. Bebop cats are like that. Curious. I wanted to know about everything. more...

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. more...

It slaps your dignity just right. I loved the idea of these proud, dignified black men, and I saw the older ones wounded, and it wounded me ten times as much because I couldn't stand seeing them hurt like this. more...

I started imagining this whole different world. It was a society of musicians, a family I hoped I could belong to one day. more...

All guys get into music because they love music and they also want to get the girls. more...

I never cared about money or fame, and I don't care now. I follow the groove, and money always follows. more...

Arts is just as important as military defense, you know? Emotional defense is just as important. more...

China's got a billion people and a hit record over there is a million records. You know that ain't right. more...

Every country can be defined through their food, their music and their language. That's the soul of a country. more...

I don't remember feeling love. more...

I never felt like I had a mother. more...

I was married for 36 years but now I'm free. more...

I was the most subtle person in the world. more...

I'd been in love before - I was always in love. more...

I'm just a musician and a record producer. more...

I'm never in my life going to do a record that's a tribute to myself. I don't need it. more...

My earliest memories are being pinned to a fence with a switchblade. more...

Unfortunately, America doesn't have a minister of culture, and I don't understand why. It's really bad for young people. more...

When I was 14, I was a passenger in a terrible accident. more...

When I was 14, I would sit up in my room and write till my eyes would bleed. more...

I don't ever want to grow up. That's boring. more...

I live on the Internet. more...

I think the attraction of 'American Idol' is about the basic human nature attitude that is, 'We can put you up there. But we can take you down.' more...

I travel like a maniac. I travel more than anyone I know. I love learning the languages. more...

I was rapping in 1939. It's old. The roots are complex. And kids don't know. more...

I've met every freak in the business. more...

Music in movies is all about dissonance and consonance, tension and release. more...

My son is a hip-hop producer. more...

Bebop and hip-hop, in so many ways, they're connected. A lot of rappers remind me so much of bebop guys in terms of improvisation, beats and rhymes. My dream is to see hip-hop incorporated in education. You've got the youth of the world in the palm of your hand. more...

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. more...

Just blow in it and sound bad for about a year and then make it sound a little bit better, and you get a little band together, and then you get a few jobs. You take four guys that sound half bad, but if they're 25 percent each, they can give 100 percent, you know? more...

After every war, there was a significant change in the music, and I can understand how that happened. If you participate in protecting the country, you think you can be part of it, but you come back home and it's worse than ever. more...

Cherish your mistakes, and you won't keep making them over and over again. It's the same with heartbreaks and girls and everything else. Cherish them, and they'll put some wealth in you. more...

It's easy to get next to music theory, especially between your peers and music classes and so forth. You just pay attention. I had a good ear, so I realized that printed music was just about reminding you what to play. more...

Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together... Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity. more...

Imagine what a harmonious world it... more...

Michael (Jackson) was so shy, he'd sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me while I sat with my hands over my eyes-and the lights off. more...

Young people should travel, and they don't. You can't know if you don't go. more...

Louis 'Thunder Thumbs' Johnson was one of the greatest bass players to ever pick up the instrument, as a member of the Brothers Johnson, we shared decades of magical times working together in the studio and touring the world. From my albums 'Body Heat' and 'Mellow Madness,' to their platinum albums 'Look Out for 1,' 'Right On Time,' 'Blam' and 'Light Up the Night,' which I produced, to Michael's solo debut 'Off the Wall,' I considered Louis a core member of my production team. He was a dear and beloved friend and brother, and I will miss his presence and joy of life every day. more...

You can study orchestration, you can study harmony and theory and everything else, but melodies come straight from God. more...

It's the attitude about life, man. Looking at the light instead of the dark. Looking at love instead of fear. more...

The process is the most beautiful part. more...

You Make Your Mistakes To Learn How To Get To The Good Stuff more...

Let's not get too full of ourselves. Let's leave space for God to come into the room. more...

I've been driven all my life by a spirit of adventure and a criminal level of optimism. I believed in my dreams because they were my only option. The people who make it to the top are addicted to their calling. You have to honor the gift God has given you. The people who get the call are the ones who'd be doing whatever it is they love, even if they weren't being paid. more...

I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, Ain't that the truth. more...

The act of multitrack recording is the act of arranging. more...

A song should have all the color and beauty of every rose. more...

Benny [Carter] opened the eyes of a lot of producers and studios, so that they could understand that you could go to blacks for other things outside of blues and barbecue. He's a total musician. He was the pioneer, he was the foundation. He made it possible for that doubt to be taken away. more...

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. more...

Some summers my father would take us down to visit our grandmother in Louisville, who was an ex-slave, Susan Jones, and she had a shotgun shack they call it, and no electricity, a well in the back, a coal stove, kerosene lamps. more...

A lot of the guys were like that - Oscar Pettiford - they just took me under their wing, and that's why I automatically help young people. I just love it, because they did that for me. more...

Count Basie practically adopted me at 13. We became closer and closer and I ended up conducting for him and Sinatra. more...

Eight kids and a stepmother, and I just wanted to be out of there and so when I got a scholarship from Boston to the Schillinger House, which is now the Berklee School of Music, I couldn't wait to get out of there. more...

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! more...

It was messed up, because in 1947 my family moved to Seattle and I had to get up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning to catch the ferry back to Bremerton every morning because I was Boys Club president. more...

There's nothing in the world worse than having an opportunity that you're not prepared for. Good luck usually follows the collision of opportunity and preparation - it's a result of that collision. You"ve got to be prepared. So, make your mistakes now and make them quickly. If you"ve made the mistakes, you know what to expect the next time. That's how you become valuable. more...

A person's age can be determined by the degree of pain he experiences when he comes in contact with a new idea. more...

Making a record is like painting a school bus with a toothbrush more...

Prince.. a true artist in every sense of the world.Gone way too soon. more...

Young people should travel, and they do'. You ca' know if you do' go. more...

They say a blind hog will find the acorn one day. more...

Though negative things have happened to me, God somehow let me know that becoming bitter was not the way to go. You die when you do that. Someone once told me that if you fully open your arms to receive love, you'll get some scratches and cuts on your arms, but a lot of love will come in. If you close your arms, you might never get cut - but the good stuff won't come in either. more...

Every day you must be able to say, I have to get up because I'm needed by someone. As long as you have that, you're healthy. more...

My dream is to put together a performance of the evolution of black music with Cirque du Soleil . I would also like to do street opera and children's books. But even as I work toward these things, I want to simplify my life. more...

There's power in the collective. If you don't believe me, just watch a symphony orchestra with a conductor and 120 people who are thinking about exactly the same thing at the same moment - no babies, no stock markets, no mortgages. Just 32nd notes. more...

What happens when you get a big break and you haven't prepared yourself? That becomes the biggest mistake you've ever made. I see it happen all the time. more...

I improvised my life along the way - I just moved step-by-step. And I knew that if I got better, something would happen. more...

Did you know you would become as successful as you have? Hell, no. But you know what? You were prepared, baby. more...

I used to practice piano for hours, and now, with a synthesizer, you can input the music and the machine perfects the song. That's why we have so many people in the music business who should be plumbers. They don't really understand music because they haven't been trained. more...

You want your parents to say, "Hey, I'm proud of you." When you don't hear that, you learn to compensate. You say, "Hell, I don't need their approval. If I get my music right, I'll have everyone else's approval." I didn't understand it then, but I now know that's what happened to me. more...

Whenever a woman would come too close, I would cut her off. Part of that was vindictive - but that was totally subconscious. more...

All the jazz guys had interracial relationships, and even the ladies did. Over the years, interracial relationships have been a hip, almost defiant thing, a way of saying "Nobody can put a boundary around me." more...

I look back and say, "This must have been somebody else." I am not going to tell you that when I was 4, I dreamed about all of this. more...


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