The sounds that defined legendary music producer Jimmy Jam’s career
By Spectrum News Staff El Segundo
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Aug. 15, 2022
What do Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani and Usher all have in common?
The incomparable music producing duo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, have produced some of their biggest hits.
On the latest episode of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez,” James Samuel Harris III — famously known as Jimmy Jam — opens up on his iconic career, which gained him five Grammy Awards, a star on the Walk of Fame and dozens of No. 1 Billboard hits.
He’s already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in the fall of 2022, he will be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. For Jam, music is everything.
“I breathe music,” he said. “The thread of the quilt of life is music. It’s the things that show us our commonality, not our differences. That’s a tremendous responsibility. We take it as a privilege to be able to do it.”
Jimmy Jam grew up in Minneapolis, the son of blues and jazz musician “Cornbread” Harris. It was a formative time for Jam. In high school, he took piano lessons with Prince, and met his future business partner Terry Lewis. He joined the band, Flyte Tyme, which later became The Time, which Prince helped build.
Eventually, Jam and Lewis broke off on their own and started producing for musical artists such as Gladys Knight, Patti Austin and Thelma Houston.
It wasn’t until they met a young Janet Jackson that they became industry giants, producing her breakthrough album “Control,” and later, her albums “Rhythm Nation,” “The Velvet Rope” and “All for You.”
“She means everything,” he said. “She was creatively, just our muse. It’s taken us around the world. That’s all really due to the power of the collaboration with Janet.”
Jam has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success working with the most iconic musicians of all time. Most recently, Jam and Lewis released an album of their own, called Jam and Lewis Volume I.
The album features some of the biggest artists they’ve worked with throughout the years, singing songs written and produced by the producing duo.
They’re currently working on Volume II. For Jam, his career has been a dream come true: he gets to work with his best friend, Terry Lewis, creating music that he loves. He hopes to leave music in a better place — and as for his hope for his legacy?
“I think at the end of the day, I’d like to be remembered legacy-wise, personally, simply as a nice guy,” he said.