Following the success of The Pawnbroker, Jones left Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles. After his film score for The Slender Thread, starring Sidney Poitier, he was in constant demand as a composer. His film credits in the next five years included Walk, Don't Run, In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, A Dandy in Aspic, Mackenna's Gold, The Italian Job, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Lost Man, Cactus Flower, and The Getaway. In addition, he also composed the theme for "The Streetbeater," which became familiar as the theme music for the television sitcom Sanford and Son, starring close friend Redd Foxx.
In the 1960s, Jones worked as an arranger for some of the most important artists of the era, including Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. Jones's solo recordings also garnered acclaim, including Walking in Space, Gula Matari, Smackwater Jack, You've Got It Bad, Girl, Body Heat, Mellow Madness, and I Heard That!!.
He is well known for his 1962 tune "Soul Bossa Nova", which originated on the Big Band Bossa Nova album. "Soul Bossa Nova" was a theme for the 1998 World Cup, the Canadian game show Definition, the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run and the Austin Powers film series, and was sampled by Canadian hip hop group Dream Warriors for their song, "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style".
Jones was also responsible for producing all four million-selling singles for Lesley Gore during the early and mid-sixties, including "It's My Party" (UK No. 8; US No. 1), "Judy's Turn To Cry" (US No. 5), "She's A Fool" (also a US No. 5) in 1963, and "You Don't Own Me" (US No. 2 for four weeks in 1964). He continued to produce for Lesley until 1966, including the Greenwich/ Barry hit "Look of Love" (US No. 27) in 1965.
Jones's 1981 album The Dude yielded multiple hit singles, including "Ai No Corrida" (a remake of a song by Chaz Jankel), "Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways", the latter two featuring James Ingram on lead vocals and marking Ingram's first hits.
In 1985, Jones scored the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of The Color Purple. He and Jerry Goldsmith (from Twilight Zone: The Movie) are the only composers besides John Williams to have scored a Spielberg theatrical film. After the 1985 American Music Awards ceremony, Jones used his influence to draw most of the major American recording artists of the day into a studio to record the song "We Are the World" to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia's famine. When people marveled at his ability to make the collaboration work, Jones explained that he'd taped a simple sign on the entrance: "Check Your Ego At The Door".
In 1988, Quincy Jones Productions joined forces with Warner Communications to create Quincy Jones Entertainment, to signed a ten-picture deal with Warner Bros. and signed a two-series deal with NBC Productions. The television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was completed in 1990, but In the House later rejected in its early concept stages.
Starting in the late 1970s, Jones tried to convince Miles Davis to re-perform the music he had played on several classic albums that had been arranged by Gil Evans in the 1960s. Davis had always refused, citing a desire not to revisit the past. In 1991, Davis, then suffering from pneumonia, relented and agreed to perform the music at a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The resulting album from the recording, Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, was Davis' last released album (he died several months afterward) and is considered an artistic triumph.
In 1993, Jones collaborated with David Salzman to produce the concert extravaganza An American Reunion, a celebration of Bill Clinton's inauguration as president of the United States. The same year, Jones joined forces with David Salzman to rename Quincy Jones Entertainment to Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE). QDE is a diverse company which produces media technology, motion pictures, television programs (In the House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and MADtv), and magazines (Vibe and Spin).
In 2001, he published his autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, Jones partnered with Wizzard Media to launch the Quincy Jones Video Podcast. In each episode, Jones shares his knowledge and experience in the music industry. The first episode features Jones in the studio, producing "I Knew I Loved you" for Celine Dion, which is featured on the Ennio Morricone tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone