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Jackson began his music career playing the electric bass. He played bass in violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty's backing band and toured with rock band Journey in 1983 and 1985. He was a highly regarded session musician in Los Angeles during the 1980s. His numerous credits range from playing with Aretha Franklin, George Michael , Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Billy Cobham, Blue Öyster Cult, Herbie Hancock, Richard Marx, Billy Joel, Journey, Stryper and Bob Dylan 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 Randy to be quite in demand as a producer himself.
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, spending eight years as vice president of artists and repertoire (A&R) at Columbia Records and four years heading A&R at MCA Records.
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.
Randy Jackson, along with American Idol co-judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.Jackson has been a judge with American Idol since its inception in 2002.