Randy Jackson: This Dawg Digs Cats


            Nearly 500,000 cats have been adopted from shelters across American since Morris the Cat (from 9Lives cat food) and Randy Jackson (from American Idol) kicked off the Million Cat Rescue in September of last year. “Dawg, I’m telling you dude, this is a crisis – too many cats need homes,” says Jackson by telephone. “The good news is that many have been adopted as Morris (and his trainers) travel around the country promoting adoption.”

            In fact, Jackson put his own paw where his mouth is, adopting out the first cat in the march toward one million adopted cats. He named that cat, Dawg, of course.

            On American Idol, that’s how he speaks, it’s ‘Randy-eze.’  Asked about his own version of the English language? He chuckles, “Man, that’s been my thing, for as long as I’ve been doing it.”

            Translated, Jackson’s been speaking his own speak since he began his long career in the music biz. He’s done it all, from playing bass with the ‘70’s rock band Journey to performing alongside names ranging from Herbie Hancock to Elton John. He’s a Grammy award winning producer who had worked on over 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums. Still, he was pretty much unknown outside the music industry until Idol began in 2002. 

            The show was an instant success. “It’s very predictable really,” he says. “I can predict that every season there will be surprises. Man, this past season had so many surprises. I was surprised myself. I never would have predicted a 17-year old girl could win the whole thing. Then came Jordin Sparks. I knew this poised girl with the curly hair and the big natural gift was something special immediately. I can’t say I knew she’d win.”

            He continues, “Once we got into the season –it clearly became our craziest.” There was Sanjaya (Malakar) who kept advancing, although it seemed clear all the judges – even the usually gleeful Paul Abdul – cringed after his performances. “He had Swaggerdom,” explains Jackson. “Like Mick Jagger, he just confidently went out there and said ‘here I am.”

            Is he comparing Jagger to Sanjaya? “Oh dude, I don’t think so. I’m just sayin’ Snajaya brought it.” Where will Sanjaya take his career? “Who knows, he’s only 17, he can maybe do TV, blow it up big or just fade away,” says Jackson. “You just don’t know.”

            When it came down to the final three, Jackson said he thought Melinda Doolittle would advance. “She was certainly the steadiest performer week in and week out of the season. For sure, I thought Melinda would duke out with Jordin. That would have been amazing.”

            Instead beat boxer Blake Lewis landed in the finals with Sparks. As he said repeatedly on Idol, Jackson is amazed by Sparks’ poise. “Listen, man, she has the talent, the potential to be the biggest Idol ever.”

            When he’s not working on Idol or helping to adopt cats, Jackson still produces. He recently produced a CD by Sam Moore (half of the vintage Sam and Dave duo), and enlisted stars including Mariah Carey, Vince Gill, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton and others to participate. In September, Jackson has a solo CD scheduled for release. “It’s a kind of Quincy thing (referring to Quincy Jones), where others participate too,” he hints. “But that’s all I can say now.”

            As for his fellow Idol players – he says if they each adopt shelter animals, he has some suggestions. “Paula could use a big dog that, so she doesn’t trip over it (a reference to Paul injuring herself by tripping over her small dog). Ryan (host Ryan Seacrest) needs a chinchilla. A furry thing to fuss over that kind of looks like him.” As for judge Simon Cowell, “That’s easy – a donkey.”

            Learn more about the Million Cat Rescue, and check out when Morris may be visiting your town, at www.9lives.com.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services