3:45 PM PDT 5/13/2013 by Michele Amabile Angermiller, Fred Bronson
"There's nothing 'pitchy' about this dawg, because he is in
tune with the key of life," season six's Blake Lewis tells THR,
echoing similar sentiments by 30 more finalists.
"Teddy bear," "sweetheart," "supporter"
-- those are just some of the words used to describe Randy Jackson
by American Idol graduates. Since 2002, when he first sat alongside
then-judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, the affable music industry
veteran has become a pop culture icon thanks to his signature catch-phrases
and less-is-more critiques.
Along the way, he's helped scores of Idol alums navigate the sometimes
treacherous waters of show business, offering guidance, a hook-up
or even his own helping hand.
It's no wonder The Hollywood Reporter received such a tremendous response
when we asked former Idols for their favorite Randy Jackson memories.
Read on to see what winners Phillip Phillips, Scotty McCreery, Taylor
Hicks, Fantasia Barrino and Ruben Studdard had to say about Jackson,
who announced his exit from the Fox show at the end of this season,
along with 30 more finalists...
Naima Adedapo (season 10): "I love Randy's spirit and was happy
to have experienced him as a judge. My favorite moment: After two
pretty harsh weeks of criticism from him, I had finished performing
'Dancing in the Street' and he said, 'Finallly tonight, all of Naima
showed up!' I was proud to have won him over! It's going to be crazy
not to see him at the judges' table reciting his infamous phrases.
I've got much love for Randy and will miss seeing him on Idol each
Lauren Alaina (season 10): "Randy always had my back. He was
a wonderful judge. His spunk, encouragement, and smile will be missed
on the judging panel."
Bo Bice (season four): "I’m sad to hear Randy is leaving
American Idol. He’s not only inspired me and helped make my
dreams come true, but he’s done the same for over a decade for
other contestants as well. I was truly amazed when this super musician
and producer would say encouraging things about my performances; it
was very validating for me, and I’ll always appreciate his support
and honesty. We’ll miss you, dawg."
Crystal Bowersox (season nine): "Randy Jackson has been such
an important part of the American Idol journey for so many. I have
an immense amount of respect and love for him, and wish him the best
in all of his future endeavors."
Jason Castro (season seven): "Randy was always a pretty fair
judge. He could definitely be tough, but when he gave you props, it
was awesome because you knew he meant it. I remember when I performed
‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ … I think we were down
to the final eight … and Randy said ‘Jason Castro is back!’
that was ‘blazing molten hot!’ He’s a major figure
in the music industry, so when he said that, it really gave me confidence
and meant a ton. He will be missed on Idol."
Kevin Covais (season five): "I had an amazing Idol experience
seven years ago. I had the pleasure of performing in front of the
original judges: Simon, Paula and Randy, all of whom I respect immensely.
But I would have to say that my favorite judge was Randy Jackson.
I felt like Randy always saw me for me and knew exactly what I was
about as a person. And I felt like any criticism I received from him
was constructive. I recall my last semifinal performance before advancing
to the top 12. I performed the Don McLean song ‘Vincent.’
I remember Randy saying that he wasn't a fan of the song choice, but
that he was a fan of mine. After my time on the show, I came across
an interview from the night I got eliminated and Randy said how much
everyone on the show loved me and how the future would be amazing
for me. I might have been considered the underdog of my season of
Idol, but I could tell Randy never thought of me that way. He knew
that I was just an honest, real 16-year-old kid who loved to sing.
He could see that because he is the same way. I've come across few
people who are as genuine as Randy Jackson. He is an amazing dude.
Idol will miss him when he's gone."
Bucky Covington (season five): "It will be hard to replace a
talent like Randy, especially since he is such a beloved name in the
music industry. He has great advice for the contestants no matter
what he thinks of their chosen 'genre' and I always respected him
for that. Very interested to see who will be chosen for the new panel
of judges ... I personally think Judge Judy would be great on the
Melinda Doolittle (season six): "I credit Randy Jackson for encouraging
the ‘Tina Turner’ in me. I went from not always being
sure about the grit in my voice to embracing every second, thanks
to his encouragement. As a huge fan of the original three judges,
I will miss Randy dearly and am proud to have been one of his ‘dawgs!’"
Anoop Desai (season eight): "Randy inspired a nickname (Anoop
Dogg) that still resonates in the minds of my fans across the world.
Always enthusiastic, he has been a constant voice and guide on a true
juggernaut of pop culture. His departure is the end of an era that
has seen Idol produce superstars and music industry professionals
for more than a decade. He's done everything from play with Journey
to sign Brennan Huff's samurai sword, so I know that whatever he does
next, it'll make an impact in someone's life for years to come. He
definitely impacted mine."
James Durbin (season 10): "I was freshly eliminated and in New
York City doing promo at the Fox Upfront, and Randy was a part of
it. We ran into each other backstage and he asked what I was doing
the next day. At that point I was scheduled to leave, but Randy got
me the chance to go on Jimmy Fallon the next day and sing [Journey's]
‘Any Way You Want It’ with him and Jimmy. Awesome!"
Fantasia (season three winner): "Randy is the same man now that
he has always been. He is always honest, humble and supportive. He
never changes. He has always believed in me. Every time I’ve
come back to Idol to perform, he is the first one to come up on stage
and talk to me. He is always giving me good advice about my music
and my career. And any time Randy needs me, I will always be there
Tamyra Gray (season one): "For me, Randy was a familiar face
in a foreign land. He always had an energetic spirit, a smile on his
face and a kind word. His energy helped to put my nerves at ease when
I was on the show. And after I left, he was still there to offer his
advice, a listening ear and encouragement. He's an all around good
‘dude’ and the world knows it! I love you, Randy! May
love and light always surround you."
Heejun Han (season 11): “Where is Randy going? To The Voice?
I'm kidding. Randy is the nicest guy I ever met ... Maybe it helps
since he wears glasses like I do -- I can definitely feel some nerdy
vibe from him. The fact that he uses the word ‘Yo’ is
really annoying since that was my grandfather’s name when he
was alive .... Anyways, before being a judge of the biggest show on
TV, he was a good father of his precious kids and a great husband.
I hope to see him soon ... Wherever you go, you do your thang, dawgy!”
David Hernandez (season seven): "Randy, you have always been
a musical inspiration to me, but more importantly, you helped guide
me during my time on Idol. It has truly been a blessing to have worked
with and know you. Without you as a judge and America voting, I wouldn't
be in such an awesome musical place today! Thank you for encouraging
me and future contestants!"
Taylor Hicks (season five winner): "Randy was a musician’s
idol. He brought serious musical expertise as a judge. I always listened
and followed his critiques. He will be missed."
Allison Iraheta (season eight): "Randy has made an incredible
mark on history with his hard work, optimism, musical knowledge and
love for everyone in this musical world. When I was on the show that
person you saw on camera was exactly who he was in real life. Even
after Idol, Randy has been a force of good in my life, and I am blessed
to know him and call him a friend. I can't wait to see what he does
next. I bet it's going to be off the hook, dawg!"
Michael Johns (season seven): "I have had the pleasure of working
with Randy on many occasions since Idol. He is an immensely talented
producer and a great, funny guy. My time on Idol was fun. The night
I was voted off was ‘inspiration song’ week. I sang ‘Dream
On,’ and Randy said, ‘Man, I just don't get that song
choice. It was supposed to be an inspiration-themed song and you chose
‘Dream On.’ I said, ‘Randy, what's more inspirational
than ‘dream on till your dreams come true?’ Just then
Randy took a sip from his Coke cup that said in big letters, ‘Dream
Big!’ Haha! Love that man. Idol will never be the same."
Blake Lewis (season six): "Randy is the 'dawgfather' of American
Idol. He has been a big supporter of mine, both during my season of
Idol and throughout my recording career. I'm sure he will continue
being successful as a producer, musician and father because of his
passion for creativity. There's nothing 'pitchy' about this dawg,
because he is in tune with the key of life. Much love and respect,
Kimberley Locke (season two): "As a judge, I knew when Randy
liked a performance and when he didn't. If he asked you, ‘Yo,
dawg, how you feeling tonight?’ that meant he didn't like it
but he was trying to be nice about it. I admire Randy for the work
he has done on stage and off stage. He has had a great career. My
best moments with Randy came when I was off the show when he signed
me to his label Dream Merchant and we scored a top five dance hit
with ‘Strobe Light.’ I was honored to have had that time
with him in studio. Randy, can't wait to see what you will be up to
in coming years!"
Scott MacIntyre (season eight): "To me, Randy was always the
glue that held the judges together. He has been there from the beginning,
and he is synonymous with American Idol. I was always excited to hear
what Randy would say about my performances each week. He really understood
my passion, and as a blind person, I immediately connected with him
because of the passion and inflection with which he speaks. …
The show went on without Simon, but when Randy leaves, things will
not be the same."
Siobhan Magnus (season nine): "Randy has always been my favorite
judge on Idol. My most special Randy moment was one week, after my
performance, Simon started to make fun of my outfit again, specifically
my shoes. Randy defended me, I'm pretty sure he said, 'Naw, dawg.
Those are Missy Elliott Adidas!' And then he told me he understood
that I was an 'artist.' Him telling me I was an artist, not just a
singer, was one of my proudest moments my whole time on Idol, and
in my whole life. I remind myself of that moment pretty much every
time I feel misunderstood!"
Mandisa (season five): "Randy Jackson played a big role in where
I am today. Coming in ninth place on season five of American Idol
left me grasping for every opportunity. I was shocked at the number
of doors that were open for me after my elimination. I had labels
calling for meetings out the wazoo! It's easy to let the fame get
to your head when you've been in the 'Idol bubble' for so long. Many
people want to take any record deal that offers the most money or
the biggest opportunity for worldwide success. But I'll never forget
watching Larry King Live before we began our 60-city American Idol
tour. Larry’s guests were Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Taylor
Hicks and Katharine McPhee (first and second place on my season).
Randy spoke some words that night that left an indelible mark on me.
He turned to Tay-Tay and Kat and said, 'I'll give you guys one last
piece of advice. Accept what you sing best and stick with it.' Such
simple advice, really, but it opened my eyes. I knew then that I could
make an R&B album, like many of the labels wanted. But when I
got right down to it, the music I sing best, that comes most naturally
for me, is about the most important person in my life: Jesus. ...
I followed Randy's advice, and after seven years, five albums, hundreds
of thousands sold, and most importantly, countless lives impacted,
I am so thankful for those words."
Scotty McCreery (season 10 winner): "Randy was there from the
beginning and added a huge element to the show with his experience
and critique that will be truly missed. I loved having him on my season,
but even with him gone, he'll always be 'America's dawg ...'"
Paul McDonald (season 10): "Most people see Randy Jackson as
a TV personality, but I know him as an entrepreneur, artist, musician
and producer. Before Idol, I spent five years grinding it out on the
club and festival circuit. I knew that bands or singers didn't break
over night. They paid their dues and worked their tails off. That's
how Randy Jackson did it. Look at his 40-year career -- his dedication
and drive …. One of my favorite moments was a late night Idol
studio session in West Hollywood. I was tracking with Alex Da Kid
and Randy just happened to be there working with a band he was producing.
It was late and the vibe in the studio was right on. We got to sit
down and have a real conversation outside the Idol bubble. We discussed
music, careers, influences and overall goals. He reassured me that
the show was not a make or break thing -- just another stepping stone
on the path to a career. He said something along the lines of, ‘As
long as you always better your craft, work hard, and put out music
that you're proud of, you will be able to last.’ I'll take those
words with me always. I have the upmost respect for Randy and am honored
to call him a friend. … I'm excited to see what comes next,
whether it be TV, film, or music…. I'm sure it will be nothing
less than amazing if it's coming from 'The Dawg!'"
Nikki McKibbin (season one): "You would think that what I remember
most about Randy Jackson is ‘Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, I love the
shoes.’ But it's actually much deeper than that. Idol was brand
new and none of us knew what to expect from the judges. RJ Helton
had just finished singing “Lately” in the final group
of the top 30. Simon called RJ a loser (among other things that were
never aired and should never be repeated). As contestants, we all
figured there would be a little drama within the judges panel but
nothing like we witnessed with this fight, especially since we were
so far along in the competition. Randy stood up for all of us, especially
RJ. I've always been an open book, very blunt and sometimes honest
to a fault, but never cruel. I really saw how amazingly compassionate
and caring Randy was that day. He could have very well just gone along
with what was being said but instead he took a stand. He stood up
for us, and for that I will always have the deepest respect for him
as a judge but more importantly as a man."
Phillip Phillips (season 11 winner): "Randy Jackson has been
a valuable part of idol for 12 seasons. The advice he gave me was
invaluable and I look forward to watching him continue to set a strong
example in the music business. Thanks for everything, Randy."
Chris Richardson (season six): "Randy Jackson is an American
icon. Dude is a legend in my mind. Hands down one of the coolest judges
I know. The way he would praise you or constructively criticize contestants
was very honest and genuine. He really did want for you to succeed,
and wasn't afraid to tell you to step it up. I remember one night
he told me I was ‘in it to win it.’ If he only knew his
words would carry on far after the show had completed. I was in it
to win it. Maybe I didn't win the show, but I’ve continued to
work my ass off years after to establish a name in this business.
So I look back on my journey on Idol, and I'm blessed to have been
a part of it while Randy was there. So to you Randy, thank you for
all the advice. Thank you for continuing to help push individuals
to be better. And last but not least, thank you for making my ride
on Idol memorable. Cheers!"
Anwar Robinson (season four): "My experience on Idol was a master
class and Randy Jackson was one of the professors. I believe his knowledge
and genuine desire for me and the other contestants to reach our full
potential is something that made American Idol one of the greatest
opportunities for aspiring music artists in America. I am a currently
a music teacher and director. I give thanks to Randy as I incorporate
much of his advice and guidance in my students. I am sure we have
not seen the last of Randy Jackson."
Brandon Rogers (season six): "My favorite memory of Randy was
during my season. I think it was top 20 or 16 week, and during the
commercial break the audience and everyone got Randy to get up and
take Rickey Minor's bass and jam with the band. It reminded everyone
that he wasn't just ‘some guy’ up there on the judge dais
-- he was actually an awesome musician who knew what he was talking
Chris Sligh (season six): "When you only make it to number 10
-- like I did -- the number of moments hanging with the judges is
limited. But I remember running into Randy backstage top 12 week.
That week, I'd re-arranged ‘Endless Love’ and though it'd
received rave reviews throughout the week by other contestants, the
producers and even Nigel [Lythgoe] and Ken [Warwick]. The judges had
hated it. Plus, my wife had been in town for three days and I'd seen
her a total of an hour and a half. I was frustrated, down and angry
... So, I run into Randy in the hall beside the stage at CBS studios
and he stops, pulls me aside and quietly tells me, ‘Dawg, you
took a chance and it didn't work out. You're still as good as anybody
here. Now, make America see what all of us see.’ I apparently
didn't make America see what they saw -- I went home two weeks later
-- but I was always blown away that this incredibly famous, incredibly
talented person cared enough to stop in a hallway to encourage me."
Vonzell Solomon (season four): "While on Idol,I met a beautiful
10-year-old girl from my hometown. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed
with terminal cancer. She flew to Los Angeles with her family to be
at one of the live shows. Afterward, Randy, Paula and Simon spent
quite a bit of time with her and her family, showing them love and
support. At that moment, I realized they were real people with big
hearts. Madison is now a three-time cancer survivor and thanks to
Randy she has great memories to cherish forever. l love that he is
so cool with the ‘dawg pound,’ yet at the same time is
so warm and compassionate."
Ruben Studdard (season two winner): "Randy was always like a
big brother to me while I was on the show. I talked with him about
so many different things because we are both from the south. I remember
how involved he was with me after the show, taking time to listen
to the music that I was working on for my first album, Soulful, and
giving great advice on how to deal with the many obstacles that arise
in the industry. He always gave me great constructive criticism while
I was on Idol and he knew how to make us laugh when the days got long.
I'm sure everyone in that building will miss his presence. I wish
him good luck on all of his future endeavors."
Trenyce (season two): "My best memory of Randy was after the
show was over. Randy came out to our soundcheck for the tour. He heard
me sing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ for the
first time since the show and he said, ‘If you continue wowing
crowds like you did me at sound check, your career will go far! Don't
be afraid to be you on stage.’ I really appreciated that. …
His seat could never really be filled -- he’s been there since
the beginning. Best wishes to Randy."
Jasmine Trias (season three): "People always ask me, 'What are
the judges really like?' What I love about Randy is that what you
see on camera is exactly what you get off camera in person, too! His
genuine factor is what makes him so endearing. If you're a friend
or an acquaintance of Randy's, you're going to be called 'dawg,' so
you better get used to it! He was real and down-to-earth, and generous
with advice during my time on the show. I always appreciated his warmth
and friendliness towards the contestants. He wanted us to improve
each week and be the best we could be. Randy will be missed and will
be hard to replace. It's a lottery to guess who will be on the season
13 judging panel, but I'm excited to see what happens next! I want
to wish Randy all the best of luck in the future. I'm looking forward
to seeing what he has planned next for his career. No doubt he's 'in
it to win it!'"
Tim Urban (season nine): "For me, Randy brought a lot of industry
experience to the panel which made his opinion worth really listening
to. Even though he wasn't a big fan of mine on the show, I was glad
he was on the panel and gave me feedback."
Erika Van Pelt (season 11): "I’ll always remember Randy
announcing my name as a wildcard for Top 13. He was so cool about
it. He seemed psyched for me."
Brooke White (season seven): "Without question, Randy Jackson
is the judge who continues to care about the contestants beyond the
Idol stage. When the show and tour are done and over and we are all
left to ourselves to figure out what to do next, it's an overwhelming
and confusing time. I'll never forget that day that I randomly bumped
into Randy at the Guitar Center in Sherman Oaks, shortly after my
elimination. He spent at least an hour talking to me, offering me
his advice and resources. I was stunned by how nice he was! From that
moment on, he was there for me, ready to help me make it in the real
world. He helped me start my own record label, June Baby Records,
introduced me to my management, connected me with an endorsement deal,
spent a lot of his own time listening to my songs to help me shape
my album High Hopes and Heartbreak and he helped me land my first
acting gig. Beyond what Randy has done to help me in my music career,
what has always impressed me is how personable and in the moment he
is with everyone. He takes time to talk, listen, hug, take pictures
and make people feel like they're seriously his best friend. He is
not a 'celebrity' kind of celebrity. He is a walking teddy bear. Oh,
and he smells amazing, and always has the best shoes. I'm gushing,
but he's just the real deal. What more can I say about Randy 'the
dawg' Jackson? Love that guy!"