LOS ANGELES (AP) — Though Quincy Jones and LL Cool J never collaborated musically, the rapper-actor says Jones has played a major role in his life.
“You just really taught me to be a man,” LL Cool J said Wednesday in a heartfelt introduction of his mentor and friend at Ebony magazine’s annual Power 100 gala, where Jones was the guest of honor.
He received a lifetime achievement award at the event, which recognizes black Americans who are wielding considerable power, such as TV producer Shonda Rhimes, New York Times editor Dean Baquet, physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Little League star Mo’Ne Davis.
LL Cool J said Jones is like a father to him and called him “the greatest producer in the history of music.” Fittingly, the 81-year-old producer, composer and philanthropist was celebrated in song.
Chaka Khan also said Jones feels like family. He’s “like an uncle, even a father,” she said as she dedicated her performance of “Sweet Thing” to him.
James Ingram sang two hits that Jones produced: “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways.” Ingram also shared a duet with Patti Austin.
Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick got attendees dancing and singing with their original 1980s hits “The Show” and “La Di Da Di.” Savion Glover performed a dance of his own.
Jones was recognized for his philanthropic efforts and six-decade career. He’s worked with the greats, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson. He’s scored feature films — 38 of them — and earned seven Academy Award nominations. He brought Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith to broader audiences.
“We’re not, any of us, above being a groupie when it comes to Quincy Jones,” Colin Powell said in a video about the honoree.
Jones said he was especially humbled by the Ebony award because he considered the magazine’s founder a mentor.
“Ebony and Jet were part of the glue that bonded us together as a people,” he said. “Black men and women in this country saw for the very first time that they were not alone in a vast wilderness; that their loves, dreams and sorrows were shared by people who looked just like them all over this country.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .