Jones was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago and raised in Seattle. His interest in music began as a child and by the age of 12 he was singing in a gospel quartet. He tour with Lionel Hampton's band as a trumpeter, arranger and sometime-pianist. By the mid 1950's Quincy had moved to New York where he began arranging and recording for such diverse artists as Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and Cannonball Adderly. He decided 1957 to continue his musical education in Europe with Nadia Boulanger, the legendary Parisian tutor of composers Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copeland.
In 1961 he became vice-president of Mercury Records and the first black executive of a major record company. In 1963 he won his first Grammy Award for his Count Basie arrangement of "I Can't Stop Loving You."He has gone on to be the all-time most nominated Grammy artist with a total of 77 nominations and 26 winning Grammys. He has won an Emmy, seven Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and The Grammy Living Legend Award.
Together with Steven Spielberg he co-produced the adaptation of Alice Walker's "The Color Purple", winning eleven Oscar nominations and introducing Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg to the movie audience.
Jones has been the owner of five separate enterprises; Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), a co-venture with Time Warner, Inc. was formed in 1990 as a broad ranging, multi-media endeavor encompassing programming for current and future technologies, including theatrical motion pictures and network, cable and syndicated television. QJE produced the NBC-TV hit series, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air", launching Will Smith's career as an actor. It also produced UPN's "In The House" and Fox TV's "Mad TV". Qwest Records, a label concentrated on recording a variety of gospel, jazz, rap, and pop albums; Quincy Jones Music Publishing, with a catalogue of over 1,600 titles spanning five decades of music covering numerous musical genres including Jazz, R&B, Pop, Rock-n-Roll, Brazilian, Alternative and Hip-Hop; Vibe magazine, jointly owned with Time Ventures and founded by Jones in 1992; He is also the publisher of SPIN and BLAZE Magazines. Qwest Broadcasting, with the Tribune Company, which owns television stations in Atlanta and New Orleans. Jones is also a partner and investor in a new TV cable network called New Urban Entertainment (NUE) Television.