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Chris Jones, Syracuse-raised musician and brother of Grace Jones, dies at 73 –

Chris Jones attends the 'Grace Jones: Bloodlight And Bami' UK premiere at BFI Southbank on October 25, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
Chris Jones, a Syracuse-raised musician and the brother of famed singer-model-actress Grace Jones, has died. He was 73.
He died Monday in London, according to his brother, Pastor Max Jones of the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Syracuse. Chris Jones had been battling prostate cancer and bone cancer for some time, Pastor Jones said.
“He was a loving brother, a wonderful spirit. Someone who would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Pastor Jones said. “When he was growing up, he would take care of birds in the backyard, literally pigeons in the backyard and this one pigeon would come back every year and he would take care of them.”
Chris Jones was a singer, hairdresser, costumer, model, and a “disco king” that DJed at clubs and hotel openings in New York, Miami and other major cities. The oldest of seven children, he was also Grace’s best friend and worked as a road manager for her on tours, collaborated with her on music, and helped craft her many stage outfits. He’s credited as a wardrobe assistant for her 2017 documentary “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.”
“My mother taught us how to sew when we were children, because my mother was a designer,” he told Get Out magazine. “She was a wedding designer. In our basement we had seven or eight sewing machines. I would come home from work and make a pair of pants and wear them out the same night.”
According to the Post-Standard archives, Chris Jones lived in Syracuse from age 13 to 21 after his family moved to the U.S. from Jamaica. His father, the late Bishop Robert W. Jones, founded the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Syracuse in 1956, and raised the family in Lyncourt, in the town of Salina.
Chris Jones, left, and his sister Grace Jones are pictured on Dec. 31, 1985, at her New Year's Eve performance in New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
“He was the organist for dad’s church and the music director,” Pastor Max Jones said. “The members of our church will certainly sorely miss him.”
“Like the incredible amber of the evening sun ready to die, or the brilliant flashes of a lightning sky, like the miraculous unveiling of a scenting flower, or the quiet majesty of a snow-capped tower, some things cannot be imitated. I know I loved you that way,” added another of Chris’ brothers, Bishop Noel Jones, a megachurch pastor in Los Angeles. “Chris, you cannot be imitated or duplicated, but more than that, none of us is indispensable but Chris you are irreplaceable! With God, I will love you forever.”
On his website, Chris described growing up in Syracuse as a “modern, yet scary experience.” He graduated from Syracuse’s Central High School at 16 due to a more rigorous education at an early age in Jamaica, then studied business before pursuing a career in the arts, eventually becoming a fashion model in New York with Wilhelmina Models, and then with Elite Models in Paris.
His career took him all over the world, eventually settling in Europe.
He was most passionate about music, collaborating with his sister Grace, and releasing albums of his own like the 1997 Sony Music release “The Sharks,” 2009′s “Strong” (featuring several Syracuse musicians) and his 2019 Trax Records release “Strong 2” (as Christian Jones). He grew up with gospel and classical music, which influenced him as he mixed ‘80s, disco and electronic sounds into house tunes for the dance floor. (Their late mother, Marjorie Jones, sang on several of Grace’s songs, including “My Jamaican Guy,” and their grandfather performed with Nat “King” Cole.)
Rachael Cain, president of Chris’ record label, Trax Records in Chicago, said she was “stunned” at his death.
“He was so hopeful and so many good things were happening for him,” she told | The Post-Standard. “It’s so sad, and he was so hopeful.”
Chris Jones’ music career had been put on hold somewhat by the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but he was still working on new music, including remixes, collaborations with Eric Kupper and singer Miss Autumn Leaves, and other projects. He was really excited to do a new promotion and tour with Trax in Europe soon, Cain added.
“More than anything, he would want his music to live on,” she said. “He loved music. He was such a talent.”
This provided photo shows (from L to R) Rachael Cain with Chris Jones, Grace Jones, and Chris and Grace's mother Marjorie Jones at a private birthday party for Grace.
Grace Jones wrote lovingly about Chris in her autobiography, “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs,” detailing how they went to gay clubs together and describing him as sexually fluid despite growing up in an era where that concept wasn’t common — and how it caused difficulties with their father, who stopped Chris from playing the organ in church.
“Chris was an amazing pianist from the age of ten, a prodigy. He played like the great Billy Preston at age eleven and used to contribute all the church music, help the choir—it was very important for him, this role,” she wrote. “My father took that away from him because complaining church members were gossiping that he was gay. Chris was never the same when that was taken away from him.”
Funeral services have not been announced for Chris Jones, but Pastor Max Jones said the family plans to have a private memorial over Zoom this Sunday. Survivors include Chris’ sister Grace and brothers Noel and Max.
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