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Fred Jones

Fred Jones, Jr., has devoted his life to entertaining others. Born January 2, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Lula and Freddie, Jones was the fourth of five children. He attended public schools in Memphis and then went on to earn his B.A. in 1971 from the University of Memphis.

While at the University of Memphis, Jones worked for Union Planters Bank as an internal auditor and assistant branch manager. Following graduation, however, Jones moved into the entertainment industry, working as a tour manager for Isaac Hayes until 1975. Jones then went on to do independent promotions, managing and producing events, for many in the entertainment industry. In 1984, Jones founded Summitt Management Corporation, where he currently serves as president.

During his career, Jones has created numerous entertainment promotions, including the Southern Heritage Classic Music and Football Weekend and the Southern Heritage Classic 2 Basketball Weekend, featuring ever-popular competitions among historically black colleges and universities. He also created the world-renowned Memphis Blues Festival. Jones has also brought Memphis some of its largest concerts and has taken concerts to African American audiences across the country.

Jones has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including the 2002 Award of Excellence from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund; the 2002 African American Male Image Award for Business from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; the 2000 Outstanding Community Sales Award from the Sales and Marketing Executives of Memphis; and the 1996 Black Business of the Year Award from the Memphis Black Business Association. He is active in a number of civic organizations, including as a lifetime member with the NAACP, a member of Leadership Memphis, and as President of the Southern Heritage Foundation.

Jones and his wife, Carolyn, live in Memphis. They have six children.

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Booker T. Washington High School

University of Memphis

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Hot Springs, Arkansas

Favorite Quote

You Can't Use Yesterday's Ball Scores In Today's Ball Game.

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Event management chief executive, entertainment promoter, and music manager Fred Jones (1948 - ) founded Summitt Entertainment. Prior to that, he was the tour manager for Isaac Hayes and the Isley Brothers.


Summitt Management Corporation

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Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fred Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fred Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fred Jones describes his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fred Jones talks about his family's history of sharecropping and migration

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fred Jones talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fred Jones talks about his respect for his father and his father's generation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fred Jones talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fred Jones talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fred Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Fred Jones talks about how his childhood neighborhood has changed

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fred Jones talks about his childhood and teachers from his grade school years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fred Jones talks about his childhood dream of becoming an accountant

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fred Jones talks about playing sports in high school and meeting Olympians Wilma Rudolph and Bob Hayes

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fred Jones talks about joining his junior high honors society and learning to play music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fred Jones talks about the plane crash that killed four members of the Bar-Kays and Otis Redding

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fred Jones talks about his decision to attend Memphis State College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fred Jones talks about the Vietnam War draft and his first job

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fred Jones talks about how he got a job at Union Planters Bank in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fred Jones talks about his reaction to the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fred Jones talks about the racial climate in Memphis, Tennessee after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fred Jones talks about graduating from the Memphis State College in 1971 and working for HistoryMaker Isaac Hayes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fred Jones talks about changes in the recording industry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fred Jones describes his responsibilities working for HistoryMaker Isaac Hayes

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fred Jones talks about becoming an entertainment promoter

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fred Jones talks about the first Southern Heritage Classic in 1990

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fred Jones tells stories about working with artists like Count Basie, Bill Cosby, and John Davidson.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fred Jones talks about demands from artists he worked with as an entertainment producer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fred Jones talks about his personal and professional relationship with the Isley Brothers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fred Jones talks about filing for bankruptcy and rebuilding his business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fred Jones talks about creating the Southern Heritage Classic

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fred Jones talks about events during the Southern Heritage Classic and a rewarding experience

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fred Jones talks about the black community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fred Jones talks about the Memphis Grizzlies and explains why Memphis, Tennessee did not get an NFL franchise

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fred Jones talks about his role in securing the Memphis Grizzlies

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fred Jones talks about the Memphis Grizzlies and what he hopes the team does for the City of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fred Jones talks about his hopes for the black community and for his future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fred Jones reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fred Jones talks about how he would like to be remembered







Fred Jones talks about graduating from the Memphis State College in 1971 and working for HistoryMaker Isaac Hayes
Fred Jones talks about his personal and professional relationship with the Isley Brothers
Now, now, so, so you worked at Planters Bank [Union Planters Bank, Nashville Tennessee] and you, you went to school [Memphis State College, later University of Memphis, Memphis Tennessee] at the same time?$$Yeah, I was going to school at night. And I did that all the way until the, the summer of '71 [1971]. Along the way I met, you know, [HM] Isaac Hayes, David Porter, the group The Soul Children, Jim Stewart, Al Bell, Otis Redding would come in there, Mack Rice who wrote 'Respect Yourself' and 'Cheaper to Keep Her.' You know it got to be [unclear] all these people.$$I didn't realize the same person wrote 'Respect Yourself' and 'Cheaper to Keep Her.'$$Yeah, yeah, Mike Rice, Cadillac assembly line. He's a character, yeah. Bonnie Mack Rice from Clarksdale, Mississippi, lives in Detroit [Michigan]. And he--but I was, I was still going to school, you know and I went nonstop from the time that you know that I, that I started back in, in the--in May of '68 [1968] until I, you know, I got to the summer of '71 [1971] and I didn't--I couldn't take the--the couple of classes that I needed to finish at night. And I didn't want to wait until the summer, so I took off during the summer from the job to go--to finish. And when I came back to talk to the bank, you know about what was gonna happen. You know, I graduated from college now and what was gonna happen at the bank. I remember the guy made a call to somebody and said well you know Fred Jones is here and you know, what we gone do with him? I'm, you know I'm sitting there listening to him and got off the phone and he said well, we don't know what we gone do with you. In the meantime, Isaac Hayes offered me a job working for him. Say he needed, you know, his 'Shaft' was just breaking, breaking big and they finna go on the road and they needed somebody who, who could handle money.$$'Shaft' was breaking real big.$$Yeah.$$It was the biggest thing in the--$$Yeah, so actually the biggest thing in the world. And said, you know we want you to--you know, we gone go out on a tour and we want you to, you know, somebody who can count money. Obviously with my experiencing in banking and--so my first day on the job, I was on a plane going to LA [Los Angeles]. And they say the rest is history, you know. And, and I left the bank and went with Isaac and that was my real--although I had done some things for the Soul Children on the weekends. But that was the real, the real big thing for me, going with Isaac and learning how to do manifests and count tickets and all those kinds of things, how they worked.$$Okay so your, your responsibilities were primarily counting responsibilities.$$Well here again, I've always liked numbers. So you, you'll probably hear this kind of a, a central theme through my whole career. You know, you know my job was to pick up the money and account for it. You know if it was, was spent somewhere, then you just make sure that you get the, the receipts and you account for--I, if I picked up 15,000 dollars then the money might go wherever it was, you know it was to go, but at the end of the day I needed to have you know, if it was less than 15,000, I have that, you know and an accounting of it, you know. Which was a thing that you, you know that you kind of learn going on that you got to, you got to make this money, but you also have to account for it, especially the expenses. So you know for income tax purposes and all that.$Tell us about the Southern Heritage Classic. How did you get the idea for that and when did you start?$$Well let, let me make--let me say one thing here. I don't wanna let that go. One of the other groups that I've gotten really close to over the years was the Isley Brothers. And it's, it's strangely how that happened. They were gonna go out on a tour in the late '70s [1970s], can't think of the exact year. And think it was '77 [1977], '78 [1978], I can't--one of the years. And a guy named James O. Thomas [ph.] who I knew from working with [HM] Isaac [Hayes], was working with them. And they had tried some promoters and things didn't work out. He said well I know this guy who can--I know he can get it done. So he called me up and said you know, we want, you know they want you, to consider you to do this tour. Really? I don't have no money. I ain't have money to take the trip to New York. They gon' take care of that. They just want somebody to take care of it. So that started a relationship that I still have with the, with the family from, from, you know from that point. And it kind of showed me a side of what, what can be done in this business 'cause they were one of the first groups that--they were doing their own shows, writing their own music, playing their own music, had their own business. And I remember we doing the, the tours--the times that I--when I first started it, they were financing it. I did everything else. Only thing they did was sing. Where, where the arena they played, how much the ticket prices were, where they stayed, all of those kind of things were taken care of. All they had, had--what time do we go on stage? And, and we took care of that. And that was a tremendous relationship that I still have with the, with them right now, with Ronald [Isley] and Ernie [Isley] and they're the two ones that are still in the band now. But Kelly [O'Kelly Isley, Jr.] who's the older brother, who kind of--everything kind of flowed through Kelly in terms of the business and what have you. And he was telling me one time, he say you know people don't realize about the entertainment business, how emotional it is. You're on a tremendous high, and tremendous low. And you know that's kind of tough to take. You got a record that you put a lot of things in and goes to number one, then you have one that, that could flop. Fortunate for them, once they start, you know, started churning out hit records with, with the younger brothers, you know and, and Chris [Jasper], you know, the brother-in-law, man it was--they had a tremendous run. And I was right, right there for the, right there for that.$$Yeah, one of the few groups that they had a hit almost every year for the last thirty years.$$It's tremendous. You know then you hear the stories about the time when they went to Motown, or hear the story about the (unclear), you know, how they--nobody would that take that record and they took they last money and, and, and produced it themselves, one of the biggest records in their history. You know just, you know they were--at the time I was, when I was with them, it was like when I was with [HM] Isaac [Hayes], I was right in the forefront of what was going on with, with music. And you know not people--not that many people get that opportunity to, to be where the action is. When I was with Isaac, Isaac had the number one record in the world. I mean all the Vegas [Las Vegas, Nevada] shows was doing the theme from 'Shaft.' We went to Europe, worked with Burt Bacharach. We--one of the first artist that sold you know, a million records--equivalent of a million records in Canada, you know. It was tremendous. The Isley Brothers came along with 'Fight the Power' and all that stuff. Man, you right there in the middle of it and doing their own shows and doing you know, national tours and that kind of thing. It was tremendous. So, you know that was, you know I--being close to that, you know that family and that group for a long time.