JIMMY JAM & TERRY LEWIS

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  • Year:
    2022
  • Inducted by:
    Janet Jackson
  • Category:
    Musical Excellence

James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis are known for their studio magic, creating smooth, funky synth-laden grooves, as well as their signature style – dark sunglasses, black suits, and black fedora hats. Minneapolis natives, they joined forces while still in high school and soon found themselves rocketed into the orbit of rising superstar Prince as members of the band the Time. That period exposed them to the music business and touring, and how to perfect the sound of a band on the road and in the studio. Jam & Lewis became innovators of the Minneapolis sound, an exciting blend of jazz, soul, R&B, funk, disco, early punk, new wave, and dance. After Prince fired them for missing a gig (because they were busy producing other bands), they decided to take their production and songwriting skills and form Flyte Tyme Productions in 1982. What followed was a string of smash R&B dance floor hits for artists, including Klymaxx, Cheryl Lynn, Gladys Knight, Force M.D.’s, Cherrelle, and the S.O.S. Band. Their musical toolkit included the boom and pop of the 808 drum machine, scorching lead synthesizer lines, deep melodic basslines, and a total commitment to the groove of a song – a sound they referred to as the “funky bottom and the pretty top.”

HALL OF FAME ESSAY

2022

Jason King

To say the names Jam and Lewis is to conjure associations with musical excellence, creative ingeniousness, steadfast reliability, and career longevity. One of the most prodigious songwriting and production duos of the past forty years, Jam and Lewis have earned sixteen Billboard Hot 100 Number One hits – more than any other songwriting/production team – and twenty-seven R&B Number One hits. Working with artists like Janet Jackson, Human League, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, and Usher, Jam and Lewis have come to represent ideals of unbounded creativity, aesthetic openness, sonic innovation, and musical sophistication – and they’ve done so while looking fly in matching suits and ties, fedoras, and dark sunglasses.

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