*Raymond Jones, a hit-making songwriter, producer and keyboardist for the seminal dance band Chic, Whitney Houston, Jeffrey Osborne, Patti Labelle, Stephanie Mills and songs in five films by Spike Lee, died on Friday, July 1, 2011.
Jones, 52, died of pneumonia at South Fulton Medical Center in Atlanta.
Raymond Jones was born December 13, 1958 in New York City to Herman and Charlotte Jones, and raised in Laurelton, Queens. His parents were civil servants working for the City of New York. Along with his older sister Marcia, young Raymond received his initial music instruction on piano beginning at 8 years-old at Third Street Music Settlement in Manhattan followed by years of private study. He attended Intermediate School 72 Queens and Brooklyn Technical High School.
Jones was 19 years-old when he joined Bernard Edwards’ and Nile Rodgers’ group Chic, playing keyboards on the international smashes “Good Times”, “Le Freak” and “I Want Your Love”, as well as Chic productions such as Diana Ross’s “Upside Down” and Sister Sledge’s universal anthem “We Are Family”.
Jones became musical director for rhythm & blues artist Jeffrey Osborne and penned his Top 10 R&B hits “Stay With Me Tonight” and “Borderlines”. He co-wrote the 1983 club hit “Build Me a Bridge” by German sensation Adel Bertei, and later wrote and produced memorable gems such as Lisa Fischer’s “Last Goodbye”, Lalah Hathaway’s “Do You Suppose”, and the power ballad “I Can’t Complain” by Patti Labelle for her CD Be Yourself. Jones’ song “Someone for Me” (co-written with bassist Freddie Washington) was a highlight of Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut album which sold 25 million units worldwide.
After meeting film director Spike Lee through a high school friend, Jones went on to write and produce songs for five of his films including “School Daze” (featuring “Be Alone Tonight” sung by fictional girl group The Rays), “Do The Right Thing” (featuring “Never Explain Love” sung by Al Jarreau), and “Clockers” (featuring “People in Search of a Life” sung by Marc Dorsey). Lee also signed Raymond to his Forty Acres and a Mule Music Works/Sony record label via the duo State of Art, a socially conscious soul group that reunited him with his friend from Chic, singer Norma Jean Wright. They recorded one project for Lee’s short-lived music company titled Community featuring the Top 40 Billboard R&B single “Understanding”. Jones also produced the music for the 2009 Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi featuring Beyonce’ and directed by Lee.
Jones also did stints with singer/songwriter Nona Hendryx, and an eclectic array of bands including Material, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, and Ecstasy, Passion and Pain.
In Hollywood, Jones contributed music production to movies such as “Little Drummer Girl,” “Splash” and “Tapeheads.” He scored the ribald comedy film “Wasabi Tuna.” He produced songs for “Soul Men” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. And he was the Music Director for Fox-TV’s “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show.”
Jones launched UEG Music in the late 1990s, taking full advantage of the industry climate that was ripe for independent artists. He would record and release five CDs on UEG, making his musical maiden voyage with Acts of Love (1997), followed by Naked Soul (1999) which featured his signature song, “Codajas,” sung in Portuguese by Will Wheaton. Next came Intimate (2001) and the solo piano recording So Amazing: Songs from the Luther Vandross Songbook (2004) in tribute to his good friend whom he worked with in Chic.
After relocating from Woodland Hills, California to Atlanta, Jones recorded his final UEG project, Hillside Stories (2007). He also recorded one holiday single: “Christmas Blue” b/w “The First Noel.”
Jones composed a piece for the multi-movement ballet “Move” by the Deeply Rooted ballet company of Chicago. He also made vital musical contributions to the musical “Fela” before it left Broadway for the tour circuit.
Raymond Jones is survived by his mother Charlotte Jones of Jamaica, Queens, his niece Zubaidah Guy of Jamaica, Queens, his half sister Gwendolyn Maxwell, and his half brother Arthur Harden.