Producer/songwriter Jimmy Jam, along with his partner Terry Lewis, has helped create some of the most successful R&B and pop recordings of the last two decades.
Jimmy Jam was born James Harris III on June 6, 1959, in Minneapolis. He first met Lewis in high school, where the two formed the soul combo Flyte Time. The group eventually morphed into the Time, with Jimmy Jam playing keyboards and Lewis on bass.
After the band's eponymous 1981 debut, Jimmy Jam and Lewis formed Flyte Time Productions to concentrate on producing other artists. One of the duo's first clients, the S.O.S. Band, scored a hit with "Just Be Good to Me." Jimmy Jam and Lewis went on to perfect their lush-but-funky urban sound on albums by Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, Thelma Houston and others.
However, it was with Janet Jackson that Jimmy Jam and Lewis hit pay dirt. Helping the singer emerge from the shadow of her talented brothers, Jimmy Jam and Lewis co-wrote and produced Jackson's 1986 blockbuster, Control. The album made Jackson a superstar on the strength of such hits as "Nasty" and "What Have You Done for Me Lately," and it earned Jimmy Jam and Lewis a Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.
The duo then produced the Human League's comeback hit, "Human," before returning to work with Jackson on her Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). The album surpassed the sales of Control, making Jimmy Jam and Lewis the undisputed kings of soul production.
The producers' successes with Jackson paved the way for collaborations with a litany of other R&B and pop artists, including New Edition, as well as two of the group's singers, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill.
The '90s saw Jimmy Jam and Lewis even more active. In 1991 they founded Perspective Records, an arm of A&M Records. They helmed two more successful Janet Jackson albums, janet (1993) and The Velvet Rope (1997), which featured "Got 'Til It's Gone" (RealAudio excerpt). Other artists they worked with included Michael Jackson (Blood on the Dance Floor), Boys II Men (Evolution), Mary J. Blige (Share My World) and Vanessa Williams (Next). The duo's most recent success was Mariah Carey's 1999 album, Rainbow.
Jimmy Jam, whose wife recently gave birth to twins, is in the studio with Lewis working on the soundtrack to Carey's upcoming film, "All That Glitters." Jimmy Jam and Lewis also are working on Janet Jackson's next release and an album by Patti LaBelle.
Other birthdays Tuesday: Levi Stubbs (Four Tops), 64; Gary U.S. Bonds, 61; Laudir DeOliveira (Chicago), 60; Howie Kane (Jay and the Americans), 58; Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), 56; Terry Williams (New Christy Minstrels), 53; Shorty Beck (Shocking Blue), 52; Chris Isaak, 44; Damien Hall, 32; and Clarence White (Byrds), 19441973.