Grace Jones was one of the more unforgettable characters to emerge from New York City’s hedonistic Studio 54 disco scene during the late ’70s. Born May 19, 1952, in Kingston, Jamaica, Jones studied theater at Syracuse University before launching a career as a model. Jones’ statuesque and flamboyant look proved to be a hit in the New York City nightclub scene, which led to a recording contract with Island Records in 1977. While such disco-based albums as 1977’s Portfolio, 1978’s Fame, and 1979’s Muse failed to break the singer commercially, Jones soon amassed a substantial following among gay men with her sexually charged live show, leading to her title at the time of “Queen of the Gay Discos.”
But with the dawn of the ’80s came a massive anti-disco movement across the U.S., leading to Jones focusing on more new wave and experimental-based work, resulting in two of her best-known and strongest releases — 1980’s Warm Leatherette and 1981’s Nightclubbing — both produced by the noted reggae team of Sly & Robbie (the latter release spawned one of Jones’ biggest hits, “Pull Up to the Bumper,” as well as covers of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing” and the Police’s “Demolition Man”). It was also around this time that Jones changed her look to suit the times by replacing her S&M look of the ’70s with a detached, androgynous image. Jones’ sixth solo release overall, Living My Life, followed in 1982, while the singer took a break from recording to focus on film work and landed roles in such movies as Conan the Destroyer and the James Bond flick A View to a Kill (Jones’ romantic life also provided tabloid fodder at the time when she was linked with Rocky IV star Dolph Lundgren).
Jones eventually returned to her recording career, enlisting super-producer Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Yes) to oversee 1985’s Slave to the Rhythm, which turned out to be a somewhat autobiographical work (the same year, a ten-track compilation was issued as well, Island Life). Jones’ penchant for working with big-name producers continued on 1986’s Inside Story; with production chores handled by Chic’s Nile Rodgers, the album spawned one of Jones’ last successful singles, “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You).” After 1989’s Bulletproof Heart, Jones seemed to turn her back on her recording career (although 1993 saw the release of a new single, “Sex Drive”), as she again focused primarily on movies, including a role in Eddie Murphy’s hit 1992 comedy Boomerang. The double-disc set Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions (a collection of 26 tracks that Jones recorded with Sly & Robbie during their early-’80s union) was released in 1998, which was followed up four years later with Island Life, Vol. 2. She returned to music in 2008 with Hurricane, an album featuring contributions from Brian Eno, Wendy & Lisa, Tony Allen, and others. In 2011 the album was re-released with a bonus disc featuring dubs created by producer Ivor Guest.
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