He is remembered most, perhaps, for conducting a studio chorus of musical megastars in the We Are the World video. Yet Quincy Jones, 53, record producer, composer and Michael Jackson’s personal maestro, apparently had more difficulty engineering harmony at home. After 12 years of marriage to third wife Peggy Lipton, 40, resident flower child on TV’s Mod Squad, Jones has quietly disclosed that the pair has parted amicably.
In Hollywood, where hits often lead to splits, the reason for the demise may have a startlingly original sound: irreconcilable philosophical differences. A longtime devotee of hatha-yoga and other spiritual practices, Lip-ton has become obsessed with the teachings of 31-year-old female guru Swami Chidvilasananda, whose following has included Isabella Rossellini, Rosanna Arquette, Mario Thomas and Phylicia Ayers-Rashad. Last week Lipton was at the guru’s Upstate New York ashram participating in meditation, chanting and spiritual lessons.
The more practical-minded Jones was not enthusiastic about his wife’s newest preoccupation. “People’s philosophies change, sometimes even in the middle of a marriage,” says a close friend. “I have watched Quincy go through the pain of this for at least a good year. Quincy has always been supportive of Peggy and her freedom to do and think what she wants. But when it comes to ‘join me or else,’ it’s another story. Quincy is more pragmatic.”
Others suggest that the tensions may have been job related. “Nobody works harder than he does, and I guess there’s always the potential for problems in that,” says Ken Kragen, organizer of USA for Africa.
Whatever the reason, the collapse of what was thought to be a model marriage stunned many. After all, their hasty 1974 union occurred around the time Jones was undergoing brain operations for life-threatening burst blood vessels. The pair had lived together for two years prior to that and have two children, Kidada, 12, and Rashida, 10. Just four months ago the couple smiled away for photographers at a New York gala honoring Jones.
As might be expected, the music man is healing his wounds in a recording studio. He is working on Jackson’s next album and, says a publicist, “will be in there as long as it takes.”