Quincy Jones turned 80 years old this year—a number he never thought he’d live to see.
“I guess if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…right?” he wrote to his Facebook fans on the eve of his big day March 14. Turning 80 was but one highlight of his year as Jones arrived in Los Angeles Thursday night to be inducted into the 28th class of Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductees.
After more than 60 years in the business, Jones’ reach is unparalleled. His production credits stretch from Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and more. The albums he’s shepherded have sold more than 200 million copies, making him one of the most influential artists in the industry.
In interviews and in his lively autobiography, Q, which earned him a 2001 Anisfield-Wolf award, Jones repeats the story of how music saved his life. “I wanted to be a gangster until I stumbled upon a Spinet piano,” he has said. He’s parlayed that anecdote into a new business venture, Playground Sessions. After he recognized the popularity of video games like Guitar Hero, he wanted to help make that interest in music stick for kids, whose parents often can’t afford pricey piano lessons or instrumental rental fees. For a small monthly fee on the site, young musicians can learn to play popular songs, giving them a bit more than the traditional scales for beginners.
Clearly, Jones isn’t slowing down any time soon. He’s busy promoting his new artists (including 11-year-old pianist Emily Bear) and launching new philanthropic endeavors. We hope we’re as cool as Q when we hit 80. Or, you know, now.
Watch Quincy Jones’ Induction Video:
Also inducted into the rock hall was the late Donna Summer, rap supergroup Public Enemy, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, rock groups Heart and Rush, blues singer Albert King and producer Lou Adler. You can watch the televised induction ceremony on May 18 on HBO.