Ep. 171 - JIMMY JAM & TERRY LEWIS ("What Have You Done for Me Lately?")


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By Paul Duncan and Scott B. Bomar and American Songwriter. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Our guests on this episode of Songcraft are Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, best known for co-writing and producing nearly every Janet Jackson hit. They’ve worked with a who’s who of artists, earning them 26 Billboard #1 R&B hits, 16 Billboard #1 pop hits, more Producer of the Year Grammy nominations than anyone in history, and a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. We’ll chat with them about their varied career, and their new first-ever album under their own names, entitled Volume One.
Fan mail and the hardest job in the world.
Scott and Paul chat about the idea of the celebrity producer, and how Jam & Lewis might have set a new mold.
Our in-depth interview with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
With 26 Billboard #1 R&B hits and 16 Billboard #1 pop hits to their credit, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are perhaps the most influential and successful songwriting and production duo in modern music history. With a total of 41 Top 10 hits in the US, Jimmy and Terry were named ASCAP Songwriters of the Year a record-breaking nine times. They are perhaps best known for their work with Janet Jackson, beginning with the Control album, which earned the duo a Grammy for Producer of the Year. Between 1986 and 1994 they scored thirteen #1 songs with Janet on either the R&B or pop chart, including “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Nasty,” “When I Think of You,” “Control,” “Let’s Wait Awhile,” “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “That’s the Way Love Goes,” “Any Time, Any Place,” and “Again,” which earned Jimmy, Terry, and Janet an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
Jimmy and Terry got their start as musicians with Morris Day and the Time, the Prince-produced band whose biggest hit was the Jam and Lewis-penned “Jerk Out.” They made the transition to a successful songwriting and production team working with the S.O.S. band, which landed a #2 R&B hit with “Just Be Good to Me.” From there, they made their mark on pop and R&B hits for decades to come. In addition to their work with Jackson, the duo wrote and produced the #1 pop singles “Human” by Human League, “Romantic” by Karyn White, “Thank God I Found You” by Mariah Carey, and the Boyz II Men singles “On Bended Knee” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness.” Additional R&B chart toppers include “Encore” by Cheryl Lynn, “Fake” by Alexander O’Neal, “Everything I Miss at Home” by Cherelle, “Sensitivity” by Ralph Tresvant, and the Johnny Gill singles “Rub You the Right Way” and “Wrap My Body Tight.”
Other highlights from their catalog include New Edition’s “If It Isn’t Love” and “I’m Still in Love With You,” “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige, Robert Palmer’s hit pop cover of their Cherelle single “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” and recordings by Gladys Knight & The Pips, Barry White, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Usher, Spice Girls, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Wilson, Ledisi, Sting, Elton John, Beyonce, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Gwen Stefani, Willie Nelson, and many others.
Always versatile, the duo has earned Grammy awards for Best R&B Album for Chaka Kahn’s Funk This, Best Gospel Song for Yolanda Adams’ “Be Blessed,” and Best Dance Recording for Janet Jackson’s #1 pop and R&B hit “All For You.” Additional Jackson hits that were written and produced with Jam and Lewis include the Janet and Michael Jackson hit “Scream” and the #1 singles “Together Again,” “I Get Lonely,” “Doesn’t Really Matter,” and the Nelly duet “Call On Me.”
In total the team has earned over 100 gold, platinum, multi-platinum and diamond album certifications from the RIAA, have received more Producer of the Year Grammy nominations than anyone in history, earned the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They’ve recently released their first album under their own names, which is called Volume One.

194 episodes