Grace Jones: biography
Grace Jones is a Jamaican-American supermodel and actress, who became a style icon and the Queen of elite parties of the 1970s and 80s. Tabloids used to be flooded with pictures of this dark-skinned Amazon, famous for her eccentric behavior, bold looks, and wild hairstyle. The singer became successful, boldly mixing disco style with punk aggression.
The muse of Andy Warhol, glamorous and hawkish, remained a media star for decades. Millions of fans recognized her contralto, and her androgynous appearance encouraged gossips and rumors.
And Grace Jones for several years was the lover of the Nordic blond Dolph Lundgren. It was she who brought him fame. After all, everyone who appeared next to Grace, already got attention: being in her "zone" of attention, the person automatically attracted the eyes of paparazzi and fans.
Childhood and youth
Beverly Grace Jones was born in the spring of 1948 in the South-East of Jamaica, in Spanish Town. Her father was a local politician and Apostolic clergyman. Her parents left their children to be taken care of by their grandmother and grandfather and went to find to work in America.
According to Grace Jones, their upbringing was strict. Grandfather whipped his grandchildren, but it was she who got the most of it. The Jones family professed Pentecostal faith and attended church three times a week. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and brother Noel were Pentecostal bishops.
Grace grew a quiet and modest girl, who was different from her peers because she was very tall (when she was a teenager her height reached 5 foot 7) and skinny. Classmates bullied Grace and called her "stick." The girl had only one friend, and sport became her comfort.
At the age of thirteen, the future model and singer settled with her family near Syracuse, in the heart of the state of New York. Here Grace Jones graduated from school and enrolled at the local University. She chose to study at the linguistics department majoring in Spanish.
The girl with an exotic appearance caught the eye of her drama professor, and he offered her a job in Philadelphia. This was the start of the creative biography of Grace Jones. At eighteen, the Jamaican beauty found herself in New York, where an agent noticed her grace of a panther and peculiar face. Jones signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models agency (now Wilhelmina International Inc.).
At the age of twenty-two, the model moved to France: on the Paris runway, the black model with androgynous appearance worked with such icons of the fashion industry as Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzō Takada. Grace Jones presented clothes of their brands at open shows and covers of Elle and Vogue.
Soon Grace presented new clothes of fashion designers Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin; she also worked with Hans Feurer. During the Parisian period, the model met fashion guru Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani.
In Paris, the girl shared an apartment with actresses Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall, and at that time she became a regular guest of the infamous gay bar Club Slept.
Grace Jone's musical career started in New York. The girl, who had a "borderline" appearance of a woman and a man, made a bet on gay clubs and a homosexual image. And it was the right decision. Soon she put her signature on the contract which was offered to her by Island Records label.
John got in the hands of the experienced producer, Tom Moulton, who was assigned to work with her by the label. With his help, Grace released her first albums. The debut album called Portfolio included songs from Broadway musicals, the hit song of Édith Piaf "La Vie en rose" (Life in Pink) and the club hit "I Need a Man."
Her album Nightclubbing, released in 1981, was a turning point in the musical career of the Jamaican singer. It marked a new direction in her style and turned Grace Jones into a world-class star. The singer smoothly moved from disco to reggae and rock styles. Music critics received the innovation well, and the army of fans multiplied. The album included songs written for Grace Jones by Bill Withers, Iggy Pop, and Astor Piazzolla.
The song from the album titled "I've Seen That Face Before," better known as "Libertango," written for Jones by the American composer Piazzolla, became a hit: the song broke through to the top of the music charts, and a music video for it was released. Overall, the album brought Grace Jones to the peak of her fame and was listed in the Top Five in four countries.
The following year, the singer gave music lovers a new album, the songs for which were written together with Barry Reynolds. The title of the collection is Living My Life. One song was written for Grace, who at that time was already an international star, by Sting. On tour, the singer visited the countries of America and Europe, and the tickets to her concerts were selling out everywhere.
In the 1980s, Grace Jones gave fans the albums Slave to the Rhythm, Island Life, Inside Story and Bulletproof Heart. In the 1990s, the singer released The Ultimate album. In 2008, Grace pleased music lovers with her latest album: the collection was called Hurricane.
Grace Jones has made a successful career as a model, singer, and actress. And even though she starred in seventeen movies as a cameo, her roles would be remembered by the audience forever. The most vivid examples of her acting talent were her parts in the films Conan the Destroyer, Attention Les Yeux!, and Vamp. The only central part that Jones had was her role in the movie A View To A Kill directed by John Glen. Grace appeared on the screen together with Roger Moore and Christopher Walken.
Unfortunate failures also happened in the actress's career. In the late 1980s, she was awarded the Golden Raspberry for her role in the film Siesta.
For the stars of the new century, Grace Jones remained a style icon and an example to follow. Her charm captured Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Annie Lennox, and Nile Rodgers. The androgynous style of the star, her angular clothing, and square haircut made a sexual revolution in the fashion industry of the 1980s.
But in 2013, the Jamaican celebrity, who turned 50, was on the list of the 50 best-dressed over-50s created by the Guardian newspaper.
In 2015, the star published memories, calling the book I'll Never Write My Memoirs.
Grace Jones has been married twice. Her first spouse, whom the singer married in 1989, was producer Chris Stanley. But the relationship fell apart, and the couple broke up. In 1996, the star married the bodyguard Atila Altaunbay. But this relationship did not work out either.
Jean-Paul Goude, a fashion photographer, and stylist played a significant role in Grace's life. It was he who came up with the androgynous style for the woman, the haircut and clothes. They did not marry officially, but it was in this love affair that the only son of Grace Jones, Paulo was born.
In 1990, the singer met the actor from Denmark Sven-Ole Thorsen. The affair lasted until 2007, but also did not develop into a marriage.
In the memory of fans of the shocking diva remained her four-year affair with actor Dolph Lundgren. The star met this unknown Swede blond in 1980 in a Sydney club, where Dolph, a University student, was moonlighting as a security guard. By that time, Grace was already famous. At her offer to become her bodyguard Lundgren said yes.
The 23-year-old handsome man next to the 32-year-old black singer locked the eyes of many girls, but Grace wholly owned his heart for four years. The two were completely different, both in appearance and lifestyle. Jones loved clubs, noisy gay parties with naked dancers and drugs, and Dolph went to the gym twice a day.
Later, the actor admitted that he loved and respected Grace, but felt uncomfortable next to the star, as though he was her errand boy. Despite the disagreements, the relationship of the singer with Lundgren was full of passion. He left fans hundreds of beautiful photos, including a photo shoot for the Playboy magazine, in which the naked athletic bodies of the couple caused a scandal.
His first acting job, a feature role in the Bondian, A View To A Kill, was a turning point in the actor's career, and he got it thanks to Jones. The following role was central: Lundgren was offered a part in Rocky IV. After the film, Dolph, like Grace, became a star. He moved to Los Angeles, closer to "the dream factory," and Jones stayed in New York. Fame separated the couple.
Grace Jones now
In autumn 2017, a documentary about the life of the icon of the 1980s, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami was released. Sophie Fiennes directed the movie about Grace.
In the movie, musical fragments are mixed with documentary footage from the personal collection of the star. The Director tried to look "behind the mask" of Grace Jones. The name of the motion picture comes from the Jamaican word "bloodlight" — a red light that flashes when recording in the Studio. And "bami" means "bread," "the essence of everyday life."
Grace Jones admitted that she was afraid of an invasion of the director in her personal space, but Fiennes managed not to disturb her comfort and not to cross the line.
- 1977 – Portfolio
- 1978 – Fame
- 1979 – Muse
- 1980 – Warm Leatherette
- 1981 – Nightclubbing
- 1982 – Living My Life
- 1985 – Slave to the Rhythm
- 1985 – Island Life
- 1986 – Inside Story
- 1989 – Bulletproof Heart
- 1993 – The Ultimate
- 2008 – Hurricane