Quincy Jones Reflects on Artists He Loves, Wished He'd Worked With During Intimate Launch of New Headphones

Guests were recently treated to a special, intimate evening with legendary producer Quincy Jones, who walked guests through his career and showed off and his latest contribution to music -- a new range of headphones. Sounds of his Michael Jackson hits filled the room on Friday night to celebrate the music pioneer’s new customized hardware at the Village Recorder studios in Los Angeles (a.k.a. The Village) where artists including Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey and Dr. Dre have graced its halls.

“They’re only $199 this time, not $1,500,” Jones joked of his new the JBL E55BT Quincy Edition Headphones (a joint venture with his daughter creative director Kidada Jones) in comparison to his last model that launched in 2015. Jones said what he loves the most about the over-ear headphones is the ability to present a tuned sound to appreciate each genre from classical to jazz to disco.

Jones later sat down at a grand piano in the center of the room to participate in a Q&A session where attendees included Chloe & Halle, Tristan "Mack" Wilds, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and up-and-coming artists Jacob Collier, Eli Teplin and Alfredo Rodriguez (all whom Jones is mentoring). During the session, Jones admitted he’s a fan of Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars, and although he's worked with his share of iconic artists, there are a few he regrets never having made music with.

“I was supposed to do Whitney’s [Houston] first album when she was 16 but we were engaged with Michael [Jackson] back then,” said Jones. “Also Bobby McFerrin and Marvin [Gaye]. He wanted me to work with him on What’s Going On?

Grammy-winning producer and composer David Foster emerged from the crowd to ask Jones which album he would choose to listen to for the rest of his life if he could only pick one, and Jones responded Miles Davis Kind of Blue. He added he was at the session where he was able to see his idols Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. “Of course you were,” quipped Foster.

Jones later was surrounded at the piano by Chloe and Halle, Masego, artist Mark Anthony Green, fashion veteran Josh Peskowitz and designer Melody Ehsani for a live shoot that was to symbolize the passing of the torch to the next generation of artists and creators. When asked if there's anything else he aspires to do, Quincy replied “I’m doing it.”

“Being underestimated is the best position you can be in,” he said as he recounted when he convinced Steven Spielberg to direct The Color Purple (Jones was a producer on the film).

“They said who the hell do they think Quincy is if I can get Steven Spielberg, a $5-and-a-half million dollar director, to direct this movie,” said Jones. “Guess what, Steven did it for me for $84,000."

Looking back on his career Jones says, "It’s always a challenge learning from those mistakes, and I’ve made every mistake you can dream of. You have to keep on keeping on. It’s the passion. I’ve never done music a day in my life for money. If you go in it for money or fame your butt is in trouble."

Dorothy Hong / Team Epiphany
(L-R) Josh Peskowitz, Melody Ehsani, Quincy Jones, Yuna, Mark Anthony Green and Chloe x Halle celebrate the launch of Jones’ JBL Headphones on May 19, 2017 in Los Angeles.