After 20 years in the music industry, the 48-year-old takes a shot at acting.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- There's an assumption, at least from folks on the outside, that people in the entertainment business are, well, a little nuts. Randy Jackson can confirm that.
"Everyone in the music business is crazy -- along with me," laughs Jackson, 48, one-third of the judging troika on Fox's "American Idol."
"Look, the journey to get to anywhere near the top is really hard," Jackson says. "In order to keep on that road, you have to have a pretty strong interior and exterior. Because some things are going to fall when you do that. If you focus on your career, other things in your life may fall apart."
A 20-year veteran -- and twice-married father of three -- he knows something about it. Though unlike the "Idol" talent hopefuls, Jackson's road through musicland was paved the old-fashioned way: without television.
No relation to pop star Michael Jackson -- or to actor Samuel L. Jackson, another occasional misconception -- Randy Jackson picked up music early while growing up in Baton Rogue, La.
He tried the saxophone and other instruments before settling on bass guitar. "I just got the bug, like, 'Oh my God I love music, I want to be involved."'
For three years he performed with the band Journey, landing gigs with everyone from Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Patti LaBelle. He then moved to the music industry's executive suites, spending eight years as vice president of artists and repertoire (A & amp;R) at Columbia Records and four years heading A & amp;R at MCA. Along the way, Jackson recalls a couple of "Idol" moments of his own.
His first big break was at 17, when he played with John Fred and the Playboys. After graduating from Southern University with a dual bachelor's degree in music and psychology, he was hired by jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham.
"When you play with people that are that legendary," says Jackson, "everyone goes, 'Wow, this guy can really play because Billy wouldn't have no slouch ... I guess this guy's really good because John Fred can have whoever he wants in his band and he's got this guy.' It's the company you keep."