Grace Jones

Born:     May 19, 1948
Place of Birth:   Spanish Town, St. Catherine, British Jamaica  
Zodiac Sign:  Taurus

Career

Grace Beverly Jones OJ (born 19 May 1948) is a Jamaican-American supermodel, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Born in Jamaica, she moved when she was 13, along with her siblings, to live with her parents in Syracuse, New York. Jones began her modelling career in New York state, then in Paris, working for fashion houses such as Yves St. Laurent and Kenzo, and appearing on the covers of Elle and Vogue. She worked with photographers such as Jean-Paul Goude, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer, and became known for her distinctive androgynous appearance and bold features.

Beginning in 1977, Jones embarked on a music career, securing a record deal with Island Records and initially becoming a star of New York City's Studio 54-centered disco scene. In the early 1980s, she moved toward a new wave style that drew on reggae, funk, post-punk and pop music, frequently collaborating with both the graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude and the musical duo Sly & Robbie. Her most popular albums include Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981), and Slave to the Rhythm (1985). She scored Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart with "Pull Up to the Bumper", "I've Seen That Face Before", "Private Life", and "Slave to the Rhythm". In 1982, she released the music video collection A One Man Show, directed by Goude.

Jones appeared in some low-budget films in the US during the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984, she made her first mainstream appearance as Zula in the fantasy-action film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Douglas, and subsequently appeared in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill as May Day. In 1986, she played a vampire in Vamp, and acted in and contributed a song to the 1992 Eddie Murphy film Boomerang. She appeared alongside Tim Curry in the 2001 film Wolf Girl. For her work in Conan the Destroyer, A View to a Kill, and Vamp, she was nominated for Saturn Awards for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1999, Jones ranked 82nd on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and in 2008, she was honored with a Q Idol Award. Jones influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s and has been an inspiration for artists including Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Lorde, Róisín Murphy, Brazilian Girls, Nile Rodgers, Santigold, and Basement Jaxx. In 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 40th greatest dance club artist of all time.

Personal Life and Family

Grace Jones was born in 1948 (though most sources say 1952) in Spanish Town, Jamaica, the daughter of Marjorie (née Williams) and Robert W. Jones, who was a local politician and Apostolic clergyman. The couple already had two children, and would go on to have four more. Robert and Marjorie moved to the East Coast of the United States, where Robert worked as an agricultural labourer until a spiritual experience during a suicide attempt inspired him to become a Pentecostal minister. While they were in the US, they left their children with Marjorie's mother and her new husband, Peart. Jones knew him as "Mas P" ('Master P') and later noted that she "absolutely hated him"; as a strict disciplinarian he regularly beat the children in his care, representing what Jones described as "serious abuse". She was raised into the family's Pentecostal faith, having to take part in prayer meetings and Bible readings every night. She initially attended the Pentecostal All Saints School, before being sent to a nearby public school As a child, shy Jones had only one schoolfriend and was teased by classmates for her "skinny frame", but she excelled at sports and found solace in the nature of Jamaica.

Marjorie and Robert eventually brought their children – including the 13 year old Grace – to live with them in the US, where they had settled in Lyncourt, Salina, New York, near Syracuse. It was in the city that her father had established his own ministry, the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, in 1956. Jones continued her schooling and after she graduated, enrolled at Onondaga Community College majoring in Spanish. Jones began to rebel against her parents and their religion; she began wearing makeup, drinking alcohol, and visiting gay clubs with her brother. At college, she also took a theatre class, with her drama teacher convincing her to join him on a summer stock tour in Philadelphia. Arriving in the city, she decided to stay there, immersing herself in the Counterculture of the 1960s by living in hippie communes, earning money as a go-go dancer, and using LSD and other drugs. She later praised the use of LSD as "a very important part of my emotional growth... The mental exercise was good for me".

She moved back to New York at 18 and signed on as a model with Wilhelmina Modelling agency. She moved to Paris in 1970. The Parisian fashion scene was receptive to Jones' unusual, androgynous, bold, dark-skinned appearance. Yves St. Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzo Takada hired her for runway modelling, and she appeared on the covers of Elle, Vogue, and Stern working with Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer. Jones also modelled for Azzedine Alaia, and was frequently photographed promoting his line. While modelling in Paris, she shared an apartment with Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange. Hall and Jones frequented Le Sept, one of Paris's most popular gay clubs of the 1970s and '80s, and socialised with Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld In 1973, Jones appeared on the cover of a reissue of Billy Paul's 1970 album Ebony Woman.

Jones' father was strict and their relationship was strained. According to his particular denomination's beliefs, one should only use one's singing ability to glorify God. Bishop Robert W. Jones died on 7 May 2008. Her mother, Marjorie, always supported Jones' career (she sings on "Williams' Blood" and "My Jamaican Guy") but could not be publicly associated with her music. Marjorie's father, William, was also a musician, and played with Nat King Cole.

Jones described her childhood as having been "crushed underneath the Bible", and since has refused to enter a Jamaican church due to her bad childhood experiences.

Through her relationship with longtime collaborator Jean-Paul Goude, Jones has one son, Paulo. From Paulo, Jones has one granddaughter. Jones married Atila Altaunbay in 1996. She disputes rumors that she married Chris Stanley in her 2015 memoir I'll Never Write My Memoirs, saying, "The truth is, I only ever married one of my boyfriends, Atila Altaunbay, a Muslim from Turkey." She spent four years with Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, her former bodyguard; she was the one who got him a part as a KGB officer in A View to a Kill. Jones started dating Danish actor and stuntman Sven-Ole Thorsen in 1990, and was in an open relationship as of 2007.

Jones' brother is megachurch preacher Bishop Noel Jones, who starred on the 2013 reality show Preachers of LA.

Jones' real last name is often referred to as "Mendoza", which is actually a name she used in her 20s to fool her parents.

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