by Vernon Robinson
Steven here – just a word before I surrender my monthly podium to my old friend and long-time student of evolutionary astrology, Vernon Robinson. February brings us to Black History Month and that’s something we always celebrate here at Seven Paws Press. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to do that than to just get out of the way and let a wise son of the African Diaspora reflect astrologically on the life of a Black man, not to mention, spiritual giant who has been like yeast in the bread of American culture since before I was born.
The inspiration for this article came from me viewing the documentary Quincy on Netflix and checking on the synastry between Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. These two geniuses were lifelong friends, having met in Seattle when Q was only fourteen and Ray was sixteen. As you’ll soon see, I found many interesting synastry connections with people who were important musically in Quincy’s life.
Steven told me that Quincy was one of his musical heroes, so I decided to show him what I’d found. We both agreed that this would be the perfect way to celebrate Black History Month. Icing the cake, Quincy will be turning ninety in March of this year.
This article will include a look at a few important moments in Quincy’s life which are reflected in his birth chart, but my main focus will be the synastry between him and not only Ray Charles, but also Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson, all of whom had major impacts on Quincy’s musical career and life, and vice versa.
Q’s Early Life Reflected in his Birth Chart
Quincy Delight Jones II was born on March 14, 1933, at 8:40 pm in Chicago, IL. He grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the Black Ghetto. This was the during the depth of the Great Depression. Quincy’s Dad (Quincy D. Jones) was a carpenter who worked hard to support his family. Sarah, his mother, was a homemaker. In looking at Quincy’s chart the 5th house and 11th house are full of planets plus the nodal axis – he has an 11th house Virgo south node and 5th house Pisces north node). No surprise, his Sun is in the creative 5th House in Pisces. He has Venus there too, conjunct the north node. Naturally, all of this Piscean 5th house energy reflects his evolutionary emphasis on creativity and performance. Furthermore, that artistic Venus is extra-powerful, ruling his Libran Ascendant.
Quincy’s Moon is in the 1st house in Scorpio, indicating his deep emotional sensitivity.
The 11th House Virgo stellium of Mars, south node, Neptune and Jupiter shows how he was able to focus so single-mindedly on learning music and becoming an arranger – that meant working with other musicians in classic 11th house “teamwork” fashion.
Pisces is of course a Mutable sign, capable of adjustments. In the 5th house, his Venus and Sun underscore why Quincy has been able to successfully work such a wide range of musical styles.
The 5th house is classically about children, and Quincy has seven of them. It’s also about “love affairs,” and he had those seven children with five different women.
A key moment in Quincy’s early life happened when he was seven years old, in 1940. He saw his mother Sarah being put in a straight-jacket and sent to a mental institution. By Solar Arc, Neptune was on his Ascendant, hitting it exactly on August 20th of that year. Without being rigid about it, this situation might be reflected more deeply in Quincy’s chart with his prominent Scorpio Moon squaring his 4th house Aquarian Saturn – a configuration that can represent emotional distance from his mother). Quincy was pained by this incident all of his life.
Another key moment in Quincy’s life, happened when his father moved the family to Seattle. This happened in 1943 when Quincy was ten and Neptune was transiting into Libra, his Ascendant. The family settled in Bremerton, WA so his father could work at the Navy Shipyard during World War II – and when Quincy was eleven, he broke into the Armory Recreation Center where he found an old upright piano and sat down and began to discover the road to his future.
Of that break-in to get to a piano, Quincy said that he “…tinkled on it for a moment”. He also said “That’s where I began to find peace. I was eleven. I knew this was it for me. Forever. Each note seemed to fill up another empty space I felt inside.”
With this inspiration, Quincy began to seriously study music. He also learned to play various instruments. Quincy started playing in bands and sought out major musicians who came to the Seattle area, these musicians included Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan and, most importantly, seminal jazz great, Count Basie.
Count Basie – The Elder Musician in Quincy’s Life
Quincy first met Count Basie in 1946. At that time, Quincy was taking trumpet lessons from Clark Terry, a member of Basie’s band. Quincy gave Terry an arrangement which Terry passed on to Count Basie. Basie liked the arrangement and met Quincy because of it. This was obviously a major breakthrough moment in young Quincy’s life – he was only just into his teens. That summer, the all-important progressed Sun conjuncted his Mercury (teaching, learning) in his natal 6th house (mentors).
Looking at their synastry chart (no time available for Basie), you can immediately see various astrological connections.
- Basie’s Virgo north node/Venus conjunction is conjunct Quincy’s 11th house Jupiter.
- Basie’s Pisces south node is conjunct Quincy’s 5th house Sun and Venus.
- Basie’s Aquarius Saturn is conjunct Quincy’s 4th house Saturn.
- Basie’s Leo Mars falls in Quincy’s 10th house, conjunct the Midheaven.
Perhaps most importantly, Basie’s Taurus Jupiter is conjunct Quincy’s Aries Descendant. This reflects how Quincy felt about him. His words: “Basie was family to me, an idol, a father, a brother, a mentor, a manager – whatever he had to be.” Basie told Quincy to “learn to deal with the valleys, and the hills will take care of themselves.”
Quincy kept on studying music and searching for musicians who could help him learn. Later in Quincy’s life, he would work with Basie and his band on a famous record which we’ll talk about a little later.
Ray Charles – The Older Brother in Quincy’s Life
As Quincy searched for musicians he could learn from he heard about blind musician who was extremely talented named Ray Charles. Quincy met Ray Charles when Quincy was only 14, in 1947. Ray was just 16 at the time. He mentored Quincy in how to arrange music.
Quincy said about Ray “….what I had liked about him as much as his music was that he was on his own. At sixteen years old Ray Charles was a man.”
In looking at their synastry chart (no time available for Charles), Ray’s Aries north node is conjunct Quincy’s 6th house Aries Uranus and on Quincy’s Descendant. Ray’s Libra south node is conjunct Quincy’s Libra Ascendant. Ray’s Virgo Neptune is in Quincy’s 10th house, conjunct his 11th House Virgo stellium of Mars, South Node, Neptune and Jupiter. Meanwhile, Ray’s Virgo Sun/Mercury conjunction is conjunct Quincy’s 11th house Jupiter. Ray’s Cancer stellium of Mars, Jupiter and Pluto is conjunct Quincy’s 9th house Pluto.
Ray said this about he and Quincy “We lived out a lot of our dreams together and are still doing it. Do you know that in all the years we worked together, we’ve never had a contract, ever”. Quincy and Ray were friends for life until Ray passed.
Check out this video of Ray Charles at the 2001 Kennedy Center Honors where Quincy was honored.
Dinah Washington – The Queen Who Jump Started Quincy’s Arranging Career
On May 22, 1950, the solar arc north node conjuncted Quincy’s 5th house Piscean Sun. The karmic chickens were coming home to roost. He graduated from high school and joined Lionel Hampton’s band. (He’d been told he was too young to join when he was 15.) After moving to New York and doing arrangements for various bands he met the great jazz singer, Dinah Washington. She had heard some arrangements that Quincy had done and liked them. She had Quincy write some arrangements for her road band, and a partnership was born.
In their synastry chart (no time available for Washington), Dinah’s Virgo Sun falls in Quincy’s 10th house and is conjunct his Virgo stellium of Mars, South Node and Neptune. She triggered that “teamwork” energy in Quincy. Dinah’s Piscean Uranus is conjunct Quincy’s Sun and Venus. Meanwhile, Dinah’s Libran Saturn is conjunct Quincy’s Ascendant and her Mercury is conjunct his Jupiter. On top of it, her Cancerian Venus-Pluto conjunction is conjunct his 9th house Pluto. Reflecting that potential, Dinah and Quincy did have a short romance.
When Dinah wanted Quincy to do the arrangements for her next record at Mercury, the “suits” said, “No, we want a name.” Dinah’s response was succinct: “Here is a name for your ass. I am Dinah Washington and Quincy Jones is my arranger.”
Quincy arranged the music for Dinah’s album For Those In Love. In the end, he wound up arranging ten albums for her. He said “Dinah was always in my corner... She was a true, kind, sweet, generous sister-friend who wants what all good woman want: true love.”
Frank Sinatra – A Lifelong Musical Friend
After getting the major career break in arranging Dinah Washington’s albums Quincy toured Europe with a band based out of Paris starting in 1957. Transiting Uranus was squaring his Moon. While in Paris, Quincy got a call from Prince Grace’s Office in Monaco. Frank Sinatra wanted Quincy to put together an orchestra for him. This was to celebrate the premiere of a movie in which he was starring, Kings Go Forth. This was the first meeting that Quincy had with Sinatra.
In their synastry chart, Sinatra’s Aquarian north node/Uranus conjunction is lined up with Quincy’s 4th house Saturn. Frank Sinatra's Cancer Saturn is conjunct Quincy’s 9th house Pluto. Meanwhile, Frank’s Pisces Moon falls in Quincy’s 4th house, while in conjunction with his 5th house Pisces north node. Frank’s Leo stellium of Neptune, Midheaven and south node are all conjunct Quincy’s Midheaven. Frank’s Pisces Chiron-Jupiter conjunction is lined up with Quincy’s 5th house Pisces Sun and Pisces Venus.
In all of that, we see the inner artist connection between Quincy and Frank (4th and 5th houses) as well as the impact that Frank had on Quincy’s career (10th house). Because of the success that Quincy had with Frank in Monaco, in 1964 Frank called Quincy in 1964 to arrange and conduct Count Basie’s band for the album It Might as Well Be Swing. That album includes the song Fly Me to the Moon, which was actually played on the Moon during the first Apollo Mission.
About Sinatra, Quincy said “Frank was my style. He was hip, straight up, and straight ahead and above all a monster musician. I loved him, man.” Frank seemed to feel the same way about Quincy, the evidence being that he willed Quincy a special ring – one which Quincy never takes off.
And, just like Ray Charles, Quincy and Frank never had a contract.
Michael Jackson – The Surrogate Son of Thriller
Quincy noticed Michael Jackson’s work ethic in 1975 while they both performed in the musical called The Wiz. At that time, Michael was looking for a producer for his first solo album. Michael’s record label, Epic, thought that Quincy was “too jazzy.” Michael went in and told Epic, “I don’t care what you think, Quincy is doing my record.” The result, Off the Wall, sold ten million copies. Three years later Thriller was released and went on to become the top selling album in the world, eventually selling forty million copies.
In their synastry chart, Michael’s Virgo Sun-Pluto conjunction, is conjunct Quincy’s 11th house Virgo stellium. Again we see that classic 11th house signature – working with like-minded people.
- Michael’s Nodal Axis is conjunct Quincy’s Ascendant/Descendant, with his Libra North Node conjunct Quincy’s Libra Ascendant.
- Michael’s Aries south node conjunct Quincy’s 6th house Uranus.
- Michael’s Pisces Moon is conjunct Quincy’s 5th house Sun and Venus – a clear indicator of the artistic connection between Quincy and Michael.
- Michael’s Scorpio Neptune is conjunct Quincy’s 1st house Moon, underscoring the connection between their imaginations.
All of this came to fruition in the Thriller album, which is among the best selling albums of all times. Quincy said “Michael was a different kind of entertainer, completely dedicated.” He added, “Michael was like a member of my family, a surrogate son.”
In closing, as we have demonstrated, with all of the musically important people in Quincy’s life, there were major synastry conjunctions with his 11th house Virgo configuration (teamwork) and his 5th House Piscean planets (creativity). And there were several connections to the Libra Ascendant/Aries Descendant axis, suggesting more personal connections.
In short, Quincy Jones was not only a genius who left a glowing legacy of his own music in the world – he was also a catalyst for many other musicians, bringing out the best in them.
Note: The quotes this article are from the book, Q-The Autobiography of Quincy Jones published in 2001.