The daughter of a preacher, her parents took Grace and her twin brother, Bishop Noel Jones, to relocate to Syracuse, New York. Before becoming a successful model in New York and Paris, Grace studied theatre at Syracuse University.
Jones secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance club hits and a large gay following. The three disco albums she recorded — Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978), and Muse (1979) — generated considerable success in that market. During this period, she also became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively. Jones also accompanied him to famed nightclub Studio 54 on many occasions.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Jones adapted the emerging New Wave music to suit a different style, a significant departure from her previous output that resulted in some of her most successful work. Still with Island, and now working with producers Alex Sadkin and Chris Blackwell, she released the acclaimed albums Warm Leatherette (1980) and Nightclubbing (1981). These included re-imaginings of songs by Sting, Iggy Pop, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Flash and the Pan, The Normal, Ástor Piazzolla and Tom Petty, as well as originals like the Billboard Top 20 single "Pull Up to the Bumper".
Parallel to her musical shift was an equally dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude, whom she eventually married and by whom she had a son. Jones adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. The iconic cover photographs of Nightclubbing and, subsequently, Slave to the Rhythm (1985) exemplified this new identity. To this day, Jones is known for her unique look at least as much as she is for her music. Her collaboration with Sadkin and Blackwell continued with the dub reggae-influenced album Living My Life.
In the mid 1980s, she worked with Trevor Horn for the conceptual musical collage Slave to the Rhythm and with Nile Rodgers for Inside Story (1986) - her first album after leaving the Island label. The well-received Slave to the Rhythm consisted of several re-workings of the title track (the single of which hit #12 in the UK) while Inside Story produced her last US Hot 100 hit to date, "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)," one of several songs she co-wrote with Bruce Woolley. Bulletproof Heart (1989) spawned the #1 US club hit "Love on Top of Love - Killer Kiss," produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivilles. Although she never became a truly mainstream recording artist in the US, much of her musical output was popular on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Chart and many of her songs are regarded as classics to this day. Jones was able to find mainstream success in the UK, however, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. To date, she has released 42 singles (commercial and/or promotional), including several non-album tracks.
Grace Jones' masculine attire, height (5' 10½" (1.79 m)) and manner was a clear influence on the 'power dressing' movement of the 1980s, and on musical artists such as Annie Lennox of Eurythmics. She would also exemplify the "box" haircut style in the 1970s, which would be worn by many black men all over America throughout much of the next decade, notably Larry Blackmon of the funk group Cameo. She maintained parallel recording and acting careers, her film roles and modelling work often overshadowed her musical output. Her strong visual presence extended to her stage work. In her performances she adopted various personas and wore outlandish costumes, particularly during her years with Goude. One such performance was at the Paradise Garage in 1985, wherein she collaborated with visual artist Keith Haring for her costume. Haring painted her body in tribal patterns and fitted her with wire armor. The muralist also painted her body for the video to "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)."
Grace Jones continues to perform. In November 2004, she sang her hit "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for Trevor Horn at Wembley Arena. She received rave reviews, despite being absent in the music scene for some time. In February 2006, Jones was the celebrity runway model for Diesel's show in New York.
On October 20, 2006, the 3-CD box set Ultimate Collection was released in Europe by the CCM label, in a limited edition.
On November 3, 2006, Jones took part in a gathering of people sharing the surname, performing "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Pull up to the Bumper" to a large crowd of Joneses. 1,224 people were gathered that day at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, breaking the previous record for the largest surname-based gathering.
Ivor Guest has confirmed that Grace has completed recording her new album. link Due out in 2007.
Nick Hooker has confirmed that he's directed the first video off of Grace's upcoming new album. link
One song has been confirmed and it's called Devil in My Life, and the string arrangements were written by Philip Sheppard and Ant Genn. link
The new album feautures: Sly and Robbie, Brian Eno, Wally Badarou, Tricky, Uzziah 'Sticky' Thompson, Mikey 'Mao' Chung, Barry Reynolds, Martin Slattery, Philip Sheppard, Paulo Goude, Don-E and Tony Allen and is produced by Ivor Guest and Ant Genn. (Recording engineering duties by Cameron 'Engine' Craig).
Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill
Jones' work as an actress in mainstream film first began with the role of Zula, the amazon in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain. Prior to this she appeared in low-budget films, often with sexually explicit content. She next landed the role of May Day, in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill.
She appeared in a number of other motion pictures including the 1986 vampire film, Vamp (wherein she used her Keith Haring body paint as part of her role as a vampiric exotic dancer) as well as the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang - for which she recorded the title song - in 1992. In 2001, she appeared alongside Tim Curry in Wolf Girl (aka Blood Moon), as a transvestite circus freakshow performer named Christoph/Christine. She also appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Impatra Warrior.
Grace Jones is a contralto vocalist. She had a significant voice part in Arcadia's 1985 song and video, "Election Day", from the album, So Red the Rose.
In 1981, Grace Jones slapped chat show host Russell Harty across the face live on air after he turned to interview other guests. This topped a 2006 BBC poll of the most shocking TV chat show moments.
She was featured in the September 1987 issue of Playboy magazine with Dolph Lundgren.
In September 1998, Jones was banned from all Disney properties worldwide after baring her breasts in a concert at Walt Disney World.
In April 2005, Jones was accused of verbally abusing a Eurostar train manager in a quarrel over a ticket upgrade and was either escorted off the train or left on her own accord, later saying she was mistreated.
Jones dated Dolph Lundgren in the 1980s. In February 1996, Jones was married to a bodyguard named Atila Altaunbay. She has a son named Apollo from her previous relationship with Jean-Paul Goude. As of 18 August 2006, she was engaged to Ivor Guest, the 4th Viscount Wimborne.
See You in Jamaica