Though best known to many for his most public role -- as the mellowest and most even-tempered of the three resident judges on the Fox network's reality series American Idol -- Randy Jackson (born June 23rd, 1956) carried even greater professional weight for years as a songwriter and a session musician in the recording industry. In those combined capacities, Jackson chalked up a massive number of album credits -- in excess of 1,100, according to one source -- and worked with everyone from Michael Bolton to Aretha Franklin. A Baton Rouge, LA, native, Jackson grew up as the son of an Exxon plant foreman father and a homemaker mother. He graduated from Southern University in 1979 with a degree in music, then spent the following decade playing backup on bass for various artists; by the early '90s, however, Jackson had reportedly grown listless and opted to focus all of his energies on songwriting and producing albums for artists such as Eddie Money and Whitney Houston.
Jackson signed to serve as an Idol judge alongside Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell from the inception of the series in 2002; though Jackson reportedly felt reluctant about the concept at first, he immediately changed his mind upon viewing footage of the program's source material -- the English reality series Pop Idol. Capitalizing on his success in this venue, Jackson later authored and published a how-to book entitled What's Up, Dawg?: How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business in 2004, and established his own production banner, entitled Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment, with an exclusive deal at Warner Horizon Television. Jackson became the only American Idol judge from the original season following the resignation of Simon Cowell. In 2014, Jackson announced he would no longer be a judge on the program, but stayed on as a mentor for the contestants..