Class of 1974
While in the Bay area, Randy played in bands with Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia. He moved to Italy in the late 1980s and produced a record for Italian pop star Zucchero. The record Zucchero and the Randy Jackson Band produced one of Zucchero's biggest hits, "Donne". Jackson has also recorded, produced, or toured with many well-known artists and bands, ranging from Mariah Carey (whom he knew when she was still a teenager; he was in her band at Live 8 in London in 2005) to *NSYNC, Céline Dion, Wild Orchid, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna.(He played bass on her # 1 hit "Like A Prayer") He has also worked as an executive with Columbia Records and MCA Records.
Jackson also manages current artists Van Hunt and Nikka Costa. He does very select session work, usually just for close friends, but continues to maintain his ability to play very diverse styles of bass. He played bass onstage on the 2006 Grammy Awards with Mariah Carey as well as the Sly & The Family Stone tribute. Later in 2006 he will serve as the musical director for Carey's The Adventures of Mimi Tour.
Jackson also hosts a radio top 40 countdown known as "Randy Jackson's Hit List" syndicated on hundreds of stations nationwide by Westwood One. Every week Randy counts down his top 30 Urban AC and Mainstream AC hits, gives us a peek into AI with American Idol Underground, and shares what's currently in his iPod.
Jackson has been a judge with American Idol since its inception in 2002. On the show, he is known for taking a middle road of criticism between the supportiveness of Paula Abdul and the nastiness of Simon Cowell. He has popularized "pitchy" as the way to describe off-key singing. He is also renowned for his heavy use of slang terms, most notably the words "dude", "dawg", and "dope". Jackson sometimes also refers to the group of male semifinalists as "the dogg pound" (though during season five, the female contestants were also included). Widely well regarded in the music industry, Jackson's commentary is generally that of constructive criticism. He tells the contestants what a record company label executive would be thinking, but what the executive would not actually tell them. He also has a very large attraction to the words "All right, dude, now check this out" right before appraising a contestant's song.
Randy Jackson's marriage to Elizabeth Jackson ended in divorce in 1990. They have one child together. Since 1995, he has been married to Erika Riker, with whom he has two children.
In 2003, Jackson had well-publicized gastric bypass surgery and has subsequently lost over 100 lb (45 kg), which explains his drastic change in appearance since Season Three of American Idol.
Contrary to a widely circulated story, Randy Jackson is not related to actor Samuel L. Jackson, nor to pop star Michael Jackson.  (Michael Jackson's brother is another Randy Jackson and was a member of The Jacksons.)
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