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Randy Jackson: More Than an Idol-Maker

Posted in MusicWorld on July 21, 2005 by

Most people know Randy Jackson as the “American Idol” judge most likely to employ the word “dawg” in an appraisal. And while that’s true — the man went so far as to call his 2003 book "What’s Up, Dawg?" — it’s only a small piece of the puzzle.

Born in Baton Rouge, La., the 49-year-old Jackson has recorded, produced or toured with a number of artists, including Mariah Carey (whom he knew when she was still a teenager), *NSYNC, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Elton John and Destiny's Child.

To name a few.

Jackson also served as the VP of a&r at Columbia Records for eight years, and as Senior VP of a&r at MCA Records for four years. While fellow “Idol” judges made their names in one facet of the business — Paula Abdul as a performer; Simon Cowell as a record executive/modern day Don Rickles — Jackson actually has the well-rounded chops to back up his assessments.

It’s been a long but successful climb to the top. Hands-on learning in recording studios and a seemingly natural feeling for electric bass — yes, Jackson appeared on two albums for rock group Journey — gave him entry into the music business in a big way. Yet the man tries to remain humble.

“I think I am still the same humble Guy from the South,” he said in an interview. “It’s like, for me, I always say if I ever change, my mom would come out from wherever and beat the hell out of me: ‘What do you think you’re doing, boy?’ So I'm still that guy.”

But while “American Idol” afforded him the opportunity to live large, Jackson came to feel he was living a little too large. Hence his decision in July 2004 to undergo gastric bypass surgery, which involves the separation of the stomach into a smaller functional stomach. A noticeably slimmer Jackson, as evidenced on the most recent edition of “Idol,” is the result.

The "What’s Up, Dawg?" book, subtitled "How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business," is full of down-to-earth suggestions, including one piece of advice that he considers to be key: “Figure out who you are. Accept who you are and try and make the best of that. Meaning if you’re a singer, if you sing rock, if you sing r&b, soul, whatever it is, do that. Don’t try to do anything else because people try to do everything.”             In case all this activity isn’t enough, Jackson recently announced his plans to host a new three-hour weekly radio program, “Randy Jackson’s Hit List,” on Westwood One. “I've been in the music business my entire life and recognize there’s no better way to reach the music listener than through radio,” said Jackson, noting the show will debut in September.

An “Idol,” perhaps — but Randy Jackson obviously doesn’t keep idle for long.