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Randy Jackson ( 1956 - )  Category ( Entertainers ) [suggest a correction]

Despite a popular misconception, Randy Jackson was never a member of the Jackson 5. But he could have been.

In fact, Jackson has performed either on tour or in session work with most of Michael Jackson's contemporaries -- notably Santana, Jerry Garcia, Jean-Luc Ponty, Journey, Keith Richard, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Whitesnake and Madonna. He has also produced albums and presided over his own nationally syndicated radio show, "Randy Jackson's Hit List."

More than anything else, however, he has become known for being the more mellow of the panel of judges for American Idol, providing a placid counterpoint to the sacrcastic Simon Cowell and, early on,the emotional Paula Abdul.

Born June 23, 1956 in Baton Rouge, LA, Jackson grew up playing the bass guitar, later dabbling in keyboard work. He was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which eventually caused his weight to balloon to well over 300 pounds.

In 2003, Jackson tried gastric bypass surgery and dropped more than 100 pounds,the equivalent of five pants sizes.

“I was having serious issues with becoming a diabetic," he said in a later interview. "So thinking about how to do it, I tried all kinds of diets, everything under the sun. I was like: I really need to do something to nip this in the bud right now. It worked for me, but I hesitate to recommend it for people because it’s like a personal life decision. It’s a life choice because you change and alter your complete life when you do this.”

Because of his background in the music business, Jackson has become an astute judge of talent. Most of the American Idol success stories were no surprise to him.

Jackson does admit that auditioning more than a thousand wannabe Carrie Underwoods and Taylor Hickses each season can become tedious.

"The one thing that I know, being a record producer," he said in an interview for the Early Show, "is that every kid out there in America knows every song on the radio right now. You could say, "Sing 'Promiscuous’ to me. Sing 'Sexy Back.’" They know all of that. But if I go back and say, "Listen, let me hear you sing some Nat King Cole." "Who is that?" Or better still, "Sing me some Beatles." "Who are they?" "What?" Then it creates the challenge part of the competition. Do you know what I’m saying? Having them sing whatever songs are on the charts is boring because I know they already know them. I know those."

Jackson has three children from two marriages, and is currently married to Erika Riker.

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