No let-up for perpetual music maker Quincy Jones

Sun May 29, 2011 1:13am EDT
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By Adam Tanner

RABAT (Reuters) - After a frenetic career as producer to Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and many other music legends, 78-year-old Quincy Jones refuses to slow down and has just signed up for a new project in the Arab world.

"I'm 78 and I've still got a lot of energy and I want to do what my dreams are, which is to see people come together across the barriers," Jones said in an interview in the Moroccan capital Rabat where he appeared in the Mawazine music festival.

He scoffs at a question as to whether age and past medical woes, such as a serious cerebral aneurysm he suffered in 1974, might encourage him to ease up.

"Not at all. I'll slow down when I die," he said.

As a performer, Jones was already touring North Africa and other parts of the world in the 1950s with some of the biggest names of jazz including Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie.

He arranged Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" and produced Michael Jackson's album "Thriller" and the 1985 "We are the World" recording for African famine relief.

Watching the star-studded 1990 documentary "Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones" today, one is struck by how many of the music legends linked to Jones have since died.

"Sinatra, Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald -- all gone," Jones said before adding the name of film director Sidney Lumet and others. "How do you think I feel? I've lost 188 friends, man, in less than 15 years."   Continued...