LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the celebrated Minneapolis producer-songwriters, had their crowning moment when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night. But they got bonuses on Sunday.
Stars they met at Rock Hall festivities want to work with them. It wasn't just showbiz talk.
"Nick Rhodes [of Duran Duran] has already texted me. Brandi Carlile already texted me this morning. Lenny Kravitz has texted me," Jam said Sunday afternoon. "Everybody has already followed through."
On Sunday, Jam was basking in the afterglow, as he put, sorting through congratulatory messages as he was getting ready to attend Lewis' family reunion.
Jam and Lewis, the most successful producing duo in the history of popular music, were inducted into the Rock Hall by — who else? — presenter Janet Jackson, a Hall of Famer who sang nine of their 16 No. 1 pop hits.
"Making music to them is not about following the trends or chasing the latest sound or watching the charts," Jackson said. "It's about saying what you truly feel in a way that fans can enjoy."
Accepting a trophy, Lewis said, "I got to be the luckiest guy in the whole world. I just had Janet Jackson induct me into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."
Usually a man of few words, Lewis thanked his mother for letting him make noise in the basement, his brother for improving his vocabulary and his sister for giving him meal money when he was a struggling musician. He thanked Prince for giving him and Jam the opportunity in the band the Time.
"There's no Time without the Purple One," he said. And he saluted his fellow Time mates by name.
"That's the most I've heard Terry Lewis talk in his whole life," Jam said after his partner's nearly seven-minute speech. Oh, and Jam thanked Jackson for fixing his bent-out-of-shape shirt collar as he began to speak.
" 'Hall of Fame' means excellence at something," Jam said. "In sports [hall of fames], you have to be retired to get in. I don't see a gold watch just yet. I think we still got some time to get some things done."
He thanked Minneapolis and Minnesota for "allowing us to listen to all kinds of music" that formed their palette as producers and writers.
Jam got philosophical, mentioning the importance of music programs in schools and how we notice differences in people in the quilt that is Zoom. "Music is the thread that brings the quilt together," he said.
Jam also thanked his wife and his kids, whom he called his greatest production.
Jam and Lewis were honored Saturday in a 5½-hour marathon ceremony at the Microsoft Theater along with Dolly Parton, Carly Simon and Judas Priest as well as a host of MTV-boosted stars — Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie and Eminem. It was probably the most diverse slate of inductees in the Rock Hall, which began in 1983.
The evening was star-studded with unadvertised appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Olivia Rodrigo, U2's the Edge, John Mellencamp, Pink, Zac Brown, Sara Bareilles, Robert Downey Jr., Sheryl Crow, Carlile and Kravitz.
Springsteen inducted Jimmy Iovine, his recording engineer turned record exec and Beats headphone entrepreneur. Mellencamp introduced Allen Grubman,lawyer to the superstars, with a tirade against anti-Semitism. Downey talked up Duran Duran, and the Edge touted Eurythmics.
Rodrigo and Bareilles offered songs made famous by Simon, who famously has stage fright and did not attend the ceremonies. Carlile, Pink and Brown shared songs from Parton's vast catalog. Some inductees, including Duran Duran, Judas Priest, Benatar and Richie (with Dave Grohl on guitar), performed medleys of their biggest hits.
Parton, dressed in a shiny black outfit with chains, sang a new rock song about rockin' till the cows come home. She also joined a cast of various performers for a jam on her classic "Jolene," and then Springsteen and Mellencamp closed the night with a medley of hits by recently deceased rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.
The performing highlights, though, were a blistering three-song set by Eurythmics and a mesmerizing 10½-minute medley by Eminem, intense as ever with that unmistakable percussive cadence, with guests Ed Sheeran and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.
Jam and Lewis were saluted with a taped package that featured Mary J. Blige, George Michael, Usher, Mariah Carey, the Human League and Jackson talking about working with them.
Performers are voted in by about 1,000 industry experts, including music biz executives, previous inductees, historians and journalists. (I have been a voter for three decades.)
Jam and Lewis were named to the Hall of Fame by its board of directors in the "musical excellence" category. Previous inductees in that category have included sidemen like the E Street Band and pianist Floyd Cramer as well as producers like Tom Dowd and Nile Rodgers.
Keyboardist Jam, 63, and bassist Lewis, 65, launched their behind-the-scenes career in 1983 after being kicked out of the hitmaking R&B band the Time by Prince for missing a gig because a snowstorm stranded them in Atlanta, where they were producing a record for the S.O.S. Band. With their Flyte Tyme Productions, they produced 16 No. 1 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 and 26 chart-toppers on the R&B chart. They scored the rare feat of delivering No. 1 pop hits in three consecutive decades.
Over the years, Jam and Lewis worked with a diverse range of artists, from Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson to the Spice Girls and Sting. The duo operated out of the Twin Cities until moving to Los Angeles in 2003.
For Jam and Lewis, this was the latest in a series of honors, including five Grammys, Oscar and Emmy nominations, and induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017.
"On the all-time chart, [Rock Hall induction] is No. 1," Jam said Sunday. "Winning Grammys is amazing because it's your peers voting for what they like that you've done. This is more about your lifetime of work. It just says when the history of music is written, there is a paragraph — or a chapter — that we're included in.
"Having our families there together. Having Janet present us. I loved the fact that Terry talked so much. I don't think people get to see that side of Terry a lot. Afterward he said, 'It's very rare where you have moments where everyone leaves smiling.' It was really a perfect evening."
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff are the only other producer-songwriter duo in the Rock Hall. There are songwriting teams, though, including Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Gerry Goffin and Carole King.
Other Minnesotans in the Rock Hall are, of course, Bob Dylan and Prince as well as Albert Lea-born Eddie Cochran, a late-1950s rocker who moved to California as a teen.
Also inducted into the Rock Hall on Saturday were calypso singer Harry Belafonte, 95, and the late blues-folk guitarist Elizabeth Cotten as "early influences," and music biz execs Sylvia Robinson, Iovine and Grubman with the the Ahmet Ertegun Award (named for a Rock Hall chairman who cofounded Atlantic Records). This prize has recognized music biz executives such as Dick Clark and Berry Gordy Jr. as well as songwriters and producers including George Martin and Phil Spector.
These named-by-the-board categories also often attempt to correct oversights by the voters. This year, Judas Priest, the British heavy metal band that has been on the ballot but never voted in, was in inducted for musical excellence.
There has been no transparency and little consistency about the Rock Hall of Fame voting procedures other than the rule that performers are eligible 25 years after releasing their first record.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, but induction ceremonies have been staged in New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland.
Highlights of Saturday's event will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 on HBO.