Paul Jackson Jr. is a phenomenal guitarist that you likely do not know by name. However you have surely heard his guitar work hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
Currently guitarist for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American Idol, PJJ is one of the most in-demand guitarists in Los Angeles. He has also done stints in other TV show bands, such as Don’t Forget the Lyrics, America’s Got Talent, and Grease: You’re the One That I Want, but where Paul Jackson Jr. really made his mark was as one of the top session guitarists in LA during the session scene heyday of the 1980’s.
A top LA studio musician (and colleague of Steve Lukather) with over 1000 credits, PJJ is a fantastic all-around guitarist who can play in virtually any style and has been in constant demand since the early 80’s.
But although he can solo like a beast (witness his work with the Tonight Show band and this video of him playing “All Along the Watchtower” at the PRS Experience), PJJ is mainly known as a world-class rhythm player. Basically, he brings the funk like nobody’s business.
Credits and More Credits
Paul Jackson Jr.’s groovy rhythm parts grace the recordings of a wide variety of artists, including Michael Jackson (including Thriller, Off the Wall, Bad, and Dangerous) and Whitney Houston, Chicago, Elton John, Kenny Loggins, Chaka Khan, Michael McDonald, as well as smooth jazz artists like Dave Koz, Marcus Miller and Kirk Whalum, and numerous Christian artists.
How’s this for a list of top-selling albums from the 80’s featuring our man, Paul?
Bad Girls – Donna Summer
Special Things – The Pointer Sisters
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Endless Love (soundtrack)
So Excited! – The Pointer Sisters
Lionel Richie – Lionel Richie
We’ve Got Tonight – Kenny Rogers
Straight From the Heart – Peabo Bryson
Stay With Me Tonight – Jeffrey Osborne
It’s Your Night – James Ingram
Let’s Hear It For the Boy – Deniece Williams
Heartbreak – Shalamar
Chicago 17 – Chicago
Emotion – Barbra Streisand
Unguarded – Amy Grant
High Crime – Al Jarreau
20/20 – George Benson
Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston
Vox Humana – Kenny Loggins
USA for Africa: We Are the World (single)
A Woman Needs Love – Ray Parker Jr.
The Color Purple (soundtrack)
Jermaine Jackson – Jermaine Jackson
Self-Control – Laura Branigan
True Blue – Madonna
Rapture – Anita Baker
Whitney – Whitney Houston
Bad – Michael Jackson
What Up Dog – Was (Not Was)
Soul Searchin’ – Glen Frey
Pebbles – Pebbles
Giving You the Best That I Got – Anita Baker
Back on the Block – Quincy Jones
I’m Your Baby Tonight – Whitney Houston
Witness Paul’s total command of the groovy rhythm part in this clip from the 80’s-era instructional video, “The Science of Rhythm Guitar”:
Now that…is how you do that. And the vest is killer. 🙂
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