What do Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson; Robert Palmer and Elton
John; Usher and Mary J. Blige; Celine Dion and Mariah Carey; Boyz II Men and New Edition; Kendrick Lamar and Drake; The Time and Prince have in common? They’re all musical superstars of course, AND they’ve all collaborated with the most successful songwriting/production team in modern musical history – Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
With more Billboard Number One hits than any other songwriting/production team in history, the Five time Grammy winning duo have been creating and crafting distinctive, memorable and instantly engaging songs for nearly four decades. Effortlessly crossing stylistic boundaries, from Pop, Rock, Country and Soul, to Rap, Hip-Hop, Gospel and Dance they have produced 16 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits, and 26 Billboard R&B No. 1 hits. Speaking to their longevity and consistency they are among the only producers in history to achieve No. 1 records in four consecutive decades and have had an astonshing 41 songs reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Jimmy & Terry first met in the summer of 1972 on the University of Minnesota campus as Junior High School students in the Upward Bound program and became instant musically bonded friends. Founding the local Minneapolis band known as “Flytetyme” they were discovered and signed by Prince in 1981 and with a name change to “The Time” their careers were under way. While members of The Time, the pair was tapped by “The Black Godfather” Clarence Avant to produce the SOS Band for his Tabu Records label, which resulted in the chart topping classics, "Just Be Good To Me," and "Tell Me if you Still Care" launching them as full time songwriter/producers.
Rather than move to Los Angeles or NYC the duo set up Flyte Tyme Productions Studios in their hometown of Minneapolis and had the “artists come to them”. A risky move to be sure, but when Janet Jackson came to the Twin Cities to record her 1986 breakthrough album, “Control” which earned Jam & Lewis the Producer of the Year Grammy, Jimmy & Terry had become the most sought-after collaborators in the music world and Minneapolis the destination.
Janet’s “Rhythm Nation” as well as her next 4 chart topping albums were all recorded at Flytetyme while Herb Alpert, Beyonce, Sting, Patti LaBelle, The Human League, Wyclef, Lauren Hill, Rod Stewart, Yolanda Adams, Isley Bros, Jordan Knight, Barry White, Christina Aguilera, to name a few all found their creative oasis at Jimmy & Terry’s musical Minneapolis home.
In 1991 the duo formed Perspective Records in Los Angeles but again turned the spotlight to deserving Minnesota artists with their first two signings, local gospel choir Sounds of Blackness who won a Grammy and scored a #1 with “Optimistic” and St Paul’s own Mint Condition, who’s debut album contained the #1 single “Breakin My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”. In 2003, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis relocated Flyte Tyme Productions to Los Angeles. From this base of operations they expanding their creative reach into films, television, and advertising. “The Fighting Temptations”, “Radio”, “Shark Tale”, “Robots”, “Happy Feet Two”, “Straight Outta Compton”, “Girls Trip, “American Idol”, “Dancing With the Stars”, “Glee”, “Empire”, “American Dad”, “Atlanta”, “Fresh Off The Boat” the NBA, TNT, TBS, NBC, Liberty Mutual, The GAP all benefitted from an encyclopedic array of music contributed by the duo.
In 2015 the duo scored another Billboard number one with the release of Janet Jackson’s “Unbreakable” Album making her the youngest Artist to have #1 Albums in four consecutive decades. Jimmy & Terry also music produced the critically acclaimed award winning “The New Edition Story” miniseries for BET which drew over 29 million viewers. In 2017 they were invited to speak at the United Nations about using music to promote unity, and later traveled to the DMZ where they were commissioned by the Global Peace Foundation to write and produce “Korean Dream” as a “soundtrack for peace” to help reunify North & South Korea in light of the escalating conflict in the Korean peninsula.
Jam & Lewis support many charitable endeavors including the United
Negro College Fund, The Hollyrod Foundation, JDRF, City of Hope, TJ Martell Foundation, Starkey Hearing Foundation, ASCAP Foundation, MusiCares and the Grammy Museum Foundation. Jam also served as Chairman of the
Board of The Recording Academy the organization that oversees The
Grammys and was the first African American in history to be elected to that position.
The pair has amassed Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, Lifetime Achievement Awards from various organizations including the NAACP Image Award. They’ve been named ASCAP Songwriters of the Year 9 times, and have both a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and are inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. And with a full slate of upcoming projects including their long awaited Jam & Lewis album in 2020, Minnesota’s finest duo show no signs of slowing down soon.