For Randy Jackson, life is about taking chances. This fearless and forward-thinking mentality has guided him from musician, songwriter, and Grammy Award-winning producer to revered record-industry executive, business entrepreneur, best-selling author, talent manager, and beloved television personality. All of this stems from Jackson’s passion for music.
With the goal of becoming “the ultimate musician,” as he puts it, Jackson tirelessly worked his way up through the burgeoning jazz-fusion scene in the late seventies, collaborating with the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty and Herbie Hancock. Soon after, he progressed into the pop and R&B worlds, lending his talents to hit records by Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Madonna, to name a few. Meanwhile, he also entered the rock ‘n’ roll realm, recording and performing with legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Journey, Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia. Overall, he has over 1,000 gold and platinum plaques to his name, with collective sales exceeding 200 million copies.
In 1990, he went from the studio to the boardroom, joining Columbia Records as a staff producer and eventually becoming the label’s senior vice president of A&R. At Columbia, Jackson worked with artists including Bob Dylan, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, and Bruce Springsteen. After nine years, he moved to MCA Records as their senior vice president of A&R and staff producer.
Premiering in 2002, American Idol became a phenomenon that yielded some of the most crucial artists of the twenty-first century. As the program’s longest-standing judge, Jackson reached an iconic status within pop culture as a true gatekeeper over the course of twelve seasons. He returned in the thirteenth season to lend his expertise as the in-house mentor before announcing his departure from Idol in 2014.
In the meantime, he launched various other ventures, including Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV, Randy Jackson’s Hit List radio show syndicated by Westwood One, and his own artist-management firm.
Randy gives back whenever he can. His charitable work includes his role as Goodwill Ambassador for Save the Children U.S., as well as his involvement with the Gibson Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Music in the Schools program of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the T.J. Martell Foundation, which honored him with its Lifetime Music Industry Award. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was one of the architects of the multimillion-dollar fundraiser, Idol Gives Back, delivering relief to Louisiana. And in January 2013, Jackson was awarded the Music for Life Award by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), its highest honor.
For 10 years, Jackson taught a course on the music business and A&R at UCLA. He has also written two best-selling books. He is on the Board of Counselors of the USC Thornton School of Music. These experiences led him to want to do something educational on a grander scale, founding “Music Business Today,” a must-have, must-see, must-do course for anyone considering a career in the music business.
On the horizon, Jackson will put his inimitable and indelible stamp on still more music.