Randall Darius “Randy” Jackson (born June 23, 1956) is an American bassist, singer, record producer, entrepreneur and television personality. He is best known as a judge on American Idol and executive producer for MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Jackson has won a Grammy Award as a producer.
From 2002 to 2013, Jackson has been one of the panel judges on the Fox Network reality television series American Idol. Other judges accompanying him were Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban throughout the years. He later became the show’s in-house mentor in season 13.
After the departures of Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres; on May 9, 2013 he announced he would not return for Season 13 of the show. From Season 1 to Season 7, Jackson was accompanied by the original judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. New fourth judge Kara DioGuardi joined the show in Season 8, the last year Abdul would judge. Once Abdul left the show, new judge Kara DioGuardi stayed and brand new judge Ellen DeGeneres joined the show for Season 9. DioGuardi, DeGeneres, and Cowell left the show after Season 9 leaving Jackson with the only filled judges spot for Season 10. From Season 10 to Season 11, Jackson was joined by new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. They left in Season 11 and Jackson was yet again the only filled judges spot for Season 12. Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban joined him for his last season of the show.
Jackson officially announced that he was leaving the show on November 11, 2014.
Jackson was born on June 23, 1956, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, His first marriage, to Elizabeth Jackson, was dissolved in 1990; they had one daughter named Taylor. In 1995, Jackson married Erika Riker, with whom he has two children, daughter Zoe and son Jordan. The couple are now in the process of a divorce. In 2003, Jackson lost 114 pounds (52 kg) following gastric bypass s urgery. He stated in a February 2008 television commercial that he has type 2 diabetes.
While living in the San Francisco bay area, Jackson played in bands with Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia. From 1986 to 1987 he was a member of the rock group Journey. Jackson joined Journey for their 1986 album Raised on Radio and subsequent tour. He moved to Italy in the late 1980s and played on a record by Italian pop star Zucchero. The record, Zucchero and the Randy Jackson Band, was produced by Corrado Rustici who played guitar with Jackson on many albums in the early 80’s.
In 1985, Keith Richards was asked to provide music for the Whoopi Goldberg comedy vehicle “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Richards assembled an all-star band which included Aretha Franklin on piano and lead vocals and Jackson on bass guitar. This song was the fourth track on Aretha’s 1986 album titled “Aretha.” Jackson can be seen in the song’s video.
Jackson was the bass guitarist on the 1991 self-titled Divinyls album (which features the song “I Touch Myself”) as well as featured bassist on several tracks of Tracy Chapman’s 1992 release, Matters of the Heart. He performed on the singles “Bang Bang Bang”, “Open Arms”, and “Dreaming on a World”. That same year, Jackson also played bass on Bruce Springsteen’s hit “Human Touch.”
Jackson has recorded, produced, or toured with many well-known artists and bands, ranging from Mariah Carey (he has been her musical director for a number of her tours; he was in her band at Live 8 in London in 2005) to *NSYNC, Whitney Houston, (produced) Dionne Farris’ (critically acclaimed debut CD, Wild-Seed Wild-Flower), Céline Dion, Fergie (dating back to her days in Wild Orchid), Stryper, Whitesnake (he took over when former bassist broke his arm for a couple shows in the late 80s), and Madonna (he played some bass on her album “Like a Prayer” although not on the single of the same name).
Jackson played numerous times in Jean-Luc Ponty’s backing band. His credits as a session musician range from playing with Blue Öyster Cult, Bon Jovi, Michael Bolton, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Billy Cobham, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Ernie Isley, Billy Joel, Journey, Richard Marx, George Michael, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters to playing at the Grand Ole Opry with The Charlie Daniels Band. His production/songwriting work in the San Francisco Bay Area with Narada Michael Walden and Walter Afanasieff led Jackson to be in demand as a producer as well.
On March 11, 2008, Jackson released an album produced entirely by himself, titled Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1. The album’s release was preceded by the single “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” sung by Paula Abdul.
Jackson is the manager for the Charlotte, North Carolina based band Papertongues. The band, with the help of Jackson, signed with a major label, A&M’s Octone.
He has also worked as an executive, spending eight years as vice president of artists and repertoire (A&R) at Columbia Records and four years heading A&R at MCA Records.
America’s Best Dance Crew
Jackson produces America’s Best Dance Crew, an American group dance competition and reality television show, which premiered on February 7, 2008 on MTV and is scheduled to return for its sixth season in April 2011. Each week, the teams showcase their creative talents in choreography and their dance skills, and one crew is eliminated by the judges. The competition continues until the sole winning dance crew is awarded the title of America’s Best Dance Crew, and a cash prize of $100,000. Jackson has admitted to using the show as a platform for his banner-making company.