12 things you need to know about Grace Jones

Describing Grace Jones as simply an '80s music icon seems such a disservice.

Sure, Jones has just been named - along with Beck - as the headline act for next year's Auckland City Limits festival on March 3, where she will no doubt perform the songs that made her a force of nature all those decades ago.

But with her androgynous, new wave image, once described by boyfriend/photographer Jean-Paul Goude as "beautiful and grotesque at the same time", she has made a career of imposing herself on any setting she chooses, whether that be stage, screen or catwalk.

She arguably stole the show at the 2012 Queen's Jubilee Concert in Hyde Park, where she sang 'Slave to the Rhythm' - one of her biggest hits - while spinning a hula hoop throughout the entire four minutes.

At 64, she still cut an impressive figure, but you had to wonder what dear old Queen Elizabeth, aged 86 at the time, made of the performance… and whether it inspired her to dust off her twirling skills in the privacy of Buckingham Palace.

Five years later, Jones' visit to New Zealand will be her first - she plays a Queenstown gig the day before her Auckland appearance.

So, if you're not acquainted with her full body of work… heeeeeeeeeeere's Grace!

  • Grace Beverley Jones was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and her family moved to Syracuse, New York when she was 13. 
  • At 17, she began a modelling career that saw her move to Paris, working with fashion houses like Yves St Laurent, and appearing on the covers of Elle and Vogue magazines.
  • Jones signed a record deal with Island Records in 1977, initially becoming a star of New York's Studio 54 disco scene, but switching to new wave in the early 80s with the Warm Leatherette album.
  • Warm Leatherette included cover versions of The Pretenders' 'Private Life', Tom Petty's 'Breakdown', Bryan Ferry's 'Love is the Drug' and Smokey Robinson's 'The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game'. Pretenders diva Chrissie Hynde later described Jones' rendition of 'Private Life', which reached No. 17 on the UK charts, as "one of the high points of my career".
  • In 1981, she recorded Nightclubbing, which peaked at No. 2 on the NZ album charts and earned platinum status here, with 15,000 sales. The single 'Pull Up to the Bumper' reached No. 13 on the NZ charts.
  • Jones' album Living My Life in 1982 featured an iconic cover and the single 'Nipple to the Bottle', which also reached No. 2 in New Zealand.
  • In 1984, Jones played the role of Zula, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Conan the Destroyer. The following year, she also played villainess May Day in the 14th James Bond film View to a Kill, but had to turn down the female lead in Blade Runner, because director Ridley Scott was a professional rival to boyfriend Goude.  
  • She and actor/boyfriend Dolph Lundgren also enjoyed a tumultuous relationship, during which they posed nude together for Playboy.
  • Her Slave to the Rhythm album (1986) featured several different versions of the same title track and was originally intended as a project for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, as a follow-up to their 'Relax' hit. It sold more than 1 million copies worldwide.
  • As reported in Jones' recent autobiography, she has a firm policy to never perform, until she is paid up front and in full. She was once offered a baby as security for payment for a performance in London. "I didn't take the baby, they couldn't get the money, I didn't do the show."
  • Also according to her autobiography, I'll Never Write My Memoirs, Jones admits cocaine was not her preferred drug. "If I had taken as much cocaine as it is rumoured, I wouldn't have a nose." 
  • After her Queen's Jubilee performance, Jones actually did share a moment with the guest of honour, who seemed disappointed that Jones had changed out of her revealing stage costume. "I said I didn't think it was appropriate to be introduced to the Queen with my legs all on show and my ass hanging out!"


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