Princes and Guests: The Cast of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Then and Today

If you grew up in the 1990s, you were probably glued to the TV screen whenever a good show was on (unlike today, there weren’t many channels to choose from.) Amongst others, we all watched one of the most successful sitcoms of the time, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
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As the show has just celebrated its 30th anniversary, we traveled down Bel Air lane and checked out what’s going on, not only with the stars but also with some of the more famous guests that appeared on the hit series.

The Fresh Prince

Will Smith was (and still is) the star of the show. One of the best-known and loved all-American film actors, who has been nominated for several awards throughout his career. In the 1980s, he started out as a rapper under the stage name of The Fresh Prince, and then came his grand breakthrough.

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In 1990 the TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” came to life, and Will Smith became Will Smith. He played a laid-back, street-smart rapper that managed to charm the viewers and bring the show to a huge success.

Will Smith

Besides being The Fresh Prince, Will Smith is a talented comedian and drama actor and an astonishing producer. He has won four Grammy awards and showed off his dance talent, and singing abilities in the 1997 hit “Men In Black.”

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Smith is back in the music industry and is working on an autobiography film, and according to rumors, it is going to be a great success. He has 3 children and is happily married to Jada Pinkett Smith ( who we don’t really need to introduce.)

Philip Banks

Phill (James Avery) was the Fresh Prince’s uncle. Uncle Phil was the opposite of Will. He was level-headed and very protective. On the one hand, loving and caring, but on the other strict and narrow-minded.

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Uncle Phil and Will provided loads of inspiring and educational scenes throughout the show and resembled more of a Father-Son (even though they were uncle and nephew) relationship than anything else.

James Avery

Not many people know, but James Avey was not only an actor, but he was also a well-known poet. Best known for his roles of Uncle Phil (Phill Banks) in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and many more.

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James didn’t have any biological children and became his wife’s (Barbara) son’s (Kevin Waters) stepfather. In 2013 James Avey passed away at the age of 68 following complications during surgery. Will Smith said at James’s funeral that every person in the world needs an Uncle Phil in his life.

Vivian Banks

To us all, Vivian Banks was Aunt Viv. The most recognizable scenes of Vivian were the ones of her jumping up and down with her two sisters whenever they got excited over something. Will (Smith) would join in occasionally, turning the scene from being funny to being hilarious.

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Vivian was the warm-hearted mother and Aunt for the first three seasons of the show (later replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid.) With a beautiful voice and a great sense of humor, Vivian’s character made the show complete.

Janet Hubert

For her role of Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert was nominated as an outstanding actress in a comedy series. As Migon on “King Ester,” the digital series, in 2020, she was nominated for a Daytime Ammy award.

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Janet is still professionally active (2021), married to Larry Kraft, and is the ambassador of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Carlton Banks

It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone, and it’s not unusual to know exactly who we are referring to when we sing along to these lyrics. Played by Alfonso Ribeiro, Carlton was a Tom Jone’s lover and will Smith’s second half. They both completed one another, and the show reached the heights it did, thanks to their chemistry on the set.

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Carton was Will’s cousin. Conservative and a bit of a square peg, he carried an annoying nature but with a heart of gold. The heart and nature come together, apparently.

Alfonso Ribeiro

You might recognize Alfonso Ribeiro as the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” and it’s not surprising that he is still in the comedy industry. Alfonso has been in the funny biz for years and showed off his dancing talent (not only to Tom Jone’s tunes) but also in the 19th season of “Dancing with Stars.”

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Alfonso is married to Angela Unkrich, has three children, and remains one of the funniest characters on screen. You might have spotted him on a few commercials here and there and on the “Kelly Clarkson Show.”

Hilary Banks

One of the two Banks sisters alongside Ashley Banks. Hilary (Karyn Parsons)  is characterized as a ditzy snob. Very attractive yet very shallow, she looks down at Will’s background and centers her life on shopping and money.

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With that said, Hillary is loved and shows love to her family, and, unfortunately, is stereotyped as the bad girl. What can we say, every show needs a bad girl and The Fresh Prince was lucky to have Hilary do the part as she did it perfectly.

Karyn Parsons

Karyn Parsons stared alongside Damon Wayans in the 1995 movie “Major Payne” and has published, amongst others, two children’s books. Interestingly, she also published a novel, which was based on her mother’s childhood memories.

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Besides the fact that she is married and has two children, her last appearance on the big screen was in 2017, and she is currently focussing on writing and publishing.

Ashley Banks

The youngest daughter of the Banks family. Throughout the show, Ashley is extremely influenced by her cousin Will and sees him as an idol.

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With a nerd for a brother and a snob for a sister, Ashly finds comfort in the laidback Will, and funnily enough, stayed 15 years old for most of the show’s seasons.

Tatiana M. Ali

Did you know that Tatiana M.Ali is a singer? Neither did we. Did you also know that Tatiana M.Ali was on “The Young and the Restless” from 2007 until 2013? Neither did we. Did you know that she was a spokeswoman for Barak Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008? Can you guess what’s next?

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This talented woman has more to her than little Ashley Banks. She is happily married and has two children—what a magnificent woman.

Geoffrey Butler

The show wouldn’t be complete without the touch of an Englishman. Now, we are not referring to a prince charming of any sort, but to Mr. Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell), the Butler. He is cynical, upfront, kind of what you see is what you get, but deep down, he loved the Banks family deeply.

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Although Geoffrey is only a butler, he brings with him years of working for upper-class British dukes and reminded the Banks that even if they don’t acknowledge it, they are surrounded by royalty ( referring to himself, of course).

Joseph Marcell

Before transferring himself to the USA, Joseph had his share of the Shakespearian stage with key roles in productions such as “Othello,” and “Mid Summer Nights Dream.”

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Since then, Joseph has appeared in numerous T.V shows and movies and is professionally active today. Joseph returned to the Uk, currently lived in Surry, and is happily married.

Jazz

Jazz (played by DJ Jazzy Jeff) was Will’s best friend. He started off as a guest on the show, but as the days went by and the episodes and storyline grew, Jazz appeared more frequently and became a regular on the show.

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He was in 46 episodes altogether. We bet you never noticed that, but Jazz wore only one top throughout the entire show. No one knows why, but he did—only one top.

DJ Jazzy Jeff

In 1990, DJ Jazzy Jeff (nicknamed  Jazz) was a member of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince alongside Will Smith. As a duo, Jazz won a Grammy award for “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, which was the kickstart of his financial success.

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The two have been performing together for over 40 years and are a big name in their genre. Dj Jazz has two sons and is married to Lynette C. Jackson.

Helen Smith

Helen is one of the famous three. The famous three aunts.  She is Aunt Viv’s older sister and Janice’s younger sister. Helen makes fun of Phillip Banks throughout the show and lifts up the spirit in many episodes.

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Could you imagine “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” without the famous sisters? Their presents on the show reinforced the love and caring of aunt Viv to Will.

Jennifer lewis

Jennifer began her career on the stages of Broadway and was a backup singer to one of the most famous American female artists, Bette Midler. She played alongside Midler in “Beaches” and with Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act” (1992).

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She is an activist, an author, a stage star, and a widescreen queen. She is “The Mother of Black Hollywood” ( as the title of her book, published in 2017). Although she had a relatively small part in the show, she had big things happening elsewhere.

Trevor Collins-Newsworthy

Ladies and gentlemen, Hilary’s boyfriend. And that basically says it all. He then appeared on the show during the third season, but the producers decided to end the Trevor-Hilary romance straight after.

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On the show, Trever passes away under very unpleasant circumcises, and this becomes a big story on the show. Trever was a stuffy kind of guy that suited Hilary pretty well (considering her standards of people.)

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Brian Stokes Mitchell is an astonishing baritone singer before being titled an actor. He is better known for his performance in numerous musicals on Broadway and grabbed a Tony award for best actor.

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He has been happily married to actress Allyson Tucker and last appeared on “Centaurworls,” the streaming musical comedy.

Jackie Ames

Beautiful Jackie Ames is no other than the one and only Tyra Banks. Jackie first appeared on the show in the fourth season and arrived at the Banks’ residence as Will’s long-lost girlfriend from Philadelphia.

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Jackie Ames wasn’t the goody two shoes we would expect her to be, but rather, one of the guys, the kind of girl that breaks Will’s heart before she leaves the show for good.

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks is a businesswoman, supermodel, TV presenter, actress, producer, and writer. She is definitely our kind of superwoman. Her first acting role was on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and since then she has appeared in huge productions on the screen.

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And what is she up to today? In 2020 she appeared on “Dancing with Stars and Celebrity Watch Party,” and alongside these, she has been lecturing and managing her public charity. Superwoman or not?

Helen (Geoffrey’s date)

Helen (Naomi Campbell) came into our lives (or Butler Geoffrey’s life) in the first season of the show. Helen was Geoffrey’s blind date which Will found an interest in. Believe it or not, Geoffrey’s British manners and charm overshone Will’s big mouth and attitude.

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Surprisingly, Geoffrey believed (or wanted Will to believe) that Helen would suit Will better and gave him her number. Geoffrey, you were a true gent.

Naomi Campbell

There is not much to say about Naomi Campbell besides her being one of the most beautiful women in the world. One of the six models of her time (the 1980s and 1990s) that were declared Supermodels by the international press and the fashion industry.

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Naomi is an activist and runs several charities for which she has received recognition. She has a daughter (2021) and declared to the press that she has never been happier.

 Janet

With only one guest appearance, Janet (Vivica Anjanetta Fox) still managed to leave a mark and be remembered as Will’s date, which happened to be Jazz’s sister. Janet starts off as a nice, modest, and polite young lady but turns out to be a bossy control freak.

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The most surprising thing happens when Janet falls for Carlton (something which was truly unexpected) and only then shows her true colors.

Vivica Anjanetta Fox

Better known as Carmen Silva on “Days of Our Lives” and a key role in “Generations,” Vivica’s breakthrough came alongside Will Smith in the huge blockbuster “Independence Day.” Since then, the list that Fox has played in countless roles and has even nabbed an award for her outstanding role in the drama series, “Missing.”

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She has dated a few big names like rapper 50 Cent and others but leads a private and modest life. Vivica Fox doesn’t have any children of her own.

Marissa Redman and Dee Dee

Yes, yes, Marissa Redman and Dee Dee were played by the same actor. In this case, the almighty Queen Latifah. Marissa Redman was Hilary’s boss that had a crush on Will. You can imagine how Will reacted to this. A few episodes later, the same Queen Latifah played a completely different character.

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Dee Dee was a modest and shy young lady. Will let his shallow characteristics breakthrough, and although he really liked her, he wasn’t able to see beyond the fact that she wasn’t quite his type.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah’s real name? Dana Elaine Owens! The actress and singer released her first hit single, “Ladies First,” in 1989, and the rest is history. She is a respectable rap artist and, in 2006, received her star on the walk of fame in Hollywood for her contribution to the music industry. She gave us hours of pure entertainment in “Hairspray,” “Taxi,” “Chicago,” and many more.

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Queen Latifah has been given her share of life incidents. She lives with her partner and Son and is currently (2021) filming a new movie, due to be released in 2022.

Oprah Winfrey as Oprah Winfrey

Being one of the most influential women alive and being able to sweep after her hundreds of viewers, there was no doubt she had to be on the show, even if only for one episode.

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The writers of the show blended “The Oprah Winfrey” show into the script and managed to kill two birds with the same stone. Oprah’s fans, alongside the Fresh Prince’s fans, were glued to the screen.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is the Queen of TV host shows, the mother of them all. Oprah succeeded not only on her talk shows, but she revealed amazing acting skills on the bigscreen as well.

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She is a leading interviewer, and the list of her movies, TV shows, as an actress, and as herself, just goes on and on. Oprah Winfrey has been engaged to her partner Stedman Graham for years and has no biological children of her own.

Tom Jones as Tom Jones

The super successful sitcom is synonymous with Tom Jone’s It’s Not Unusual To Be Loved By Anyone. You already see the scene playing out in your head, don’t you! 

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In one of the episodes, in the third season, Tom Jones appears as Carlton’s guardian angel. Tom Jones has been a guest star on many shows, but his appearance on the Fresh Prince was probably the best appearance of them all.

Tom Jones

Tom Jones, the Welsh icon, is better known for his soul, gospel, and R&B  music. Not everyone knows this, but Mr. Jones has a little bit of acting experience, with his debut in the lead role in the 1979 movie, Pleasure Cove.

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In 1969 he dueted with Janis Joplin on one of his TV shows. In early 2021, he released his last album (so far), clearly, the man just doesn’t want to stop. There were rumors of Jones dating Priscilla Presley, but that remained only as a rumor,

Boyz II Men as Themselves

Boyz II men appeared as guest stars on one of the most emotional episodes throughout the entire show. With their perfect harmony, they performed at Nickey Banks’ christening, in such comforting and warming notes.

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The plot took place on Christmas eve, which decorated the episode even more. Boyz II Men were at the peak of their career when the show featured them, and the ratings went flying over the roof.

Boyz II Men

Michael McCary, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, Nathan Morris, and Marc Nelson are Boyz II Men (well, at least they were until Michael had to leave for personal reasons). An American harmony vocal group, originally from Philadelphia, managed to give any listener goosebumps and shake up those emotional vibes.

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They are indeed unique. End of The Road spread their successes globally and made them one of the leading vocal groups of the 1990s. During 2019 Boyz II Men went on an Asian tour, and there are still loads to come.

Gary Coleman as Gary Coleman

The producers of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air decided to end the show with “Different Stroke’s” Arnold. Arnold started as a potential buyer for the Banks’ house that they were about to sell.

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The scriptwriters couldn’t leave Arnold without a glowing halo around him, and the words he is most recognized by were said elegantly to Will. So, whatchu talkin’ about, Will?”

Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman was one of the most known and loved actors during the 1970s and 1980s. With a leading role on the daily sitcom, “Different Strokes,” and several guest appearances on other sitcoms and talk shows, he was one of the highest-paid child actors of his time. He won several awards and contributed highly to the film industry.

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His final appearance on the screen was of Charles Higgins in the comedy movie “Church Ball.” Sadly, Gary Coleman passed away at the age of 42 from an unstable health condition.

Jay Leno as Jay Leno

The most famous TV host on American television was welcomed on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for an unforgettable appearance. In the show, not surprisingly, Will was sued by Jay Leno for slander.

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Jay Leno was a really great sport, playing the game and creating yet another memorable moment for the Fresh Prince.

Jay Leno

And where are you today, Mr. Leno? The king of all talk shows, one of the funniest men in town. Well, he has a regular column he nourishes in Popular Mechanics, where he shows off his car collection and is currently working on the “You Bet Your Life TV show.”

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He has been happily married to Mavis Leno for over 40 years, and they have no children. He is a charity activist and is known as a very generous donator in many fields.

Monique

Monique (Kim Monique) was one of (one of many) Will’s girlfriends on the show. You probably recognize her as Tootie from “The Facts of Life,” but there is a hilarious story behind her Monique role. It is recalled as one of the most embarrassing moments Kim had while shooting.

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Monique had to quickly change into her honeymoon outfit. They wanted to save time, so the crew decided to skip buttoning the skirt and felt that the zipper would do. What they didn’t think of, was that without a button to grasp onto, the skirt was going no other way, but south.

Kim Fields

She is known to us all as the little girl roaring into the living room on her rollerskates back in the 19080’s. Kim Fields will probably always be to us, little Tootie from “The Facts of Life.” She has had her moments of glory on “Living Single,” and these days, she is constantly working on various Netflix productions.

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Kim is married. She has two children and is taking her share in directing TV shows, such as “Raven’s Home,” Tyler Perry’s “Young Dylan,” and many more.

Danny Mitchell

When Uncle Phil decided it was too much for him to escort Vivian to her Lamaze classes, he never thought he would be turning his nephew Will into a single sportswriter pregnant woman’s chaperon.

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Now, sitcoms always have these “in real life, this would never happen” things. Danny Mitchel (Vanessa Williams) invites Will to join her at a game, and then, believe it or not, she goes into labor.

Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Lynn Williams, amongst others, is a talented fashion designer. She is known as the first African-American woman to be titled Miss America, and had her moment of glory in the music industry with her number one hit “Save The Best For Last,” and received a Grammy nomination for it too.

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Vanessa played in the 2020 “Bad Hair” movie and published a children’s book that she wrote. She is married and has a daughter, also in the music industry.

Eric Malcolm Jamal Warner

Eric Malcolm Jamal Warner slid into his fancy suit and played the role of Eric, a law student who dated Hilary. In Will’s eyes, Eric is considered to be stuck up, arrogant, and vain. Even worse than Carlton. I mean, how can anyone be worse than Carlton?

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Through the episode, Eric ends up suing uncle Phil (something about car insurance), but like any other fairytale, Phill wins the case, and Eric remains the stuck-up snob.

Malcolm Jamal Warner

If there is one character  Malcolm Jamal Warner is better known for, it’s the one and only Theodore Huxtable. “The Cosby Show” was a successful sitcom, and surly where Malcolm reached his peak (as a child star). He was involved in the production of  “The Magic School Bus,” a kid’s series, and appeared on several TV shows.

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Malcolm Jamal Warner is very discreet. We know he is married, but no one knows to whom and that he has children, but this information is confidential too. Today you can find him on “The Resident,” which he has been on since 2018.

Maurice and Jasmine Perry

These two characters are played by Chris Rock, one of the funniest comedians around. Chris Rock stars with the roles of Maurine, a famous star, and Jasmine Perry, her sister. The two resemble the wicked sisters of Cinderella more than anything else.

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And Will, as always, falls into the trap and ends up having to date Jasmine. When Chris Rock played a “good looking woman,” you can imagine what she looked like.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock started his career as a standup comedian, and after starting in several roles on several sets, he joined the “Saturday Night Live” cast. He had the privilege of hosting the Academy Awards and won (for himself) a Grammy and an Emmy.

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He has two daughters and has had a biography published, called “Rock This.” Now, if Chris were a musician, then Rock This would have worked, but as he is a comedian, we think Rock Bottom is more suitable.

Derek

Not everyone remembers a guest star named Derek on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but if you could associate this with Steve Urkel, then you would surely know who we’re referring to.

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In the so-called episode, Ashley (Tatyana Ali) falls in love with Derek (), and we must be honest and say that it was very difficult ignoring the screeching voices of the “Family Matters” in our heads through the episode.

Jaleel White

No matter what role he is given, and no matter which character he tries to slip into, Jaleel White will always be “Family Matters” Steve Urkel. Not too many people know, but White is also the voice behind “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Sonic Underground.”

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He currently appears on the teen show “Titans Go and The Big Show Show.” We don’t know much about his personal life, but we can say that he has one daughter and is investing in the retail world.

The Cab Driver

Not only was Quincy Jones the executive producer of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but he was also the cab driver. The one who Will said to at the beginning of every episode, “Smell you later.” It’s amazing how small details end up having the biggest meanings.

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Apparently, many stories through the show were influenced by Jones’s personal family stories of bringing up children in Bel Air.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones is firstly a record producer, manager, musician, arranger, and you name it. He is a legend in his field and has his name crafted behind the scenes of many shows. One of his greatest pieces of art was standing behind the production of “We Are the World,” the famous 1985 charity single, recorded by, the USA for Africa.

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Quincy Jones had been titled the most influential jazz musician of the 20th century. He has a record-breaking 80 Grammy award nominations, and he is still going.