The Click: Jam & Lewis
The first thing I would call ‘the click’ in my life was meeting Terry.
I met Terry when I was around 13 years old, at a summer school programme. I remember the first time I laid eyes on him: he was in the dorm with the junior high kids, at the University of Minnesota. He was sitting on his bed playing this red, black and green bass. I’ll never forget it.
He was playing Kool & the Gang bass parts, which I thought was really cool because I loved Kool. He just was a person that when I looked at him, I said, ‘I got to figure out who this guy is.’ It was kind of love at first sight. And so that kind of attraction to somebody, musically, was the thing that really propelled me to do music. But it was also Terry’s affirmation that encouraged me. He was the one that said to me, ‘You should be a keyboard player, because your dad plays keyboard, so that means you must be able to play keyboard.’ When he did that, it changed my musical outlook. When I look at my career – or life outside of my career, if there even is one – Terry was the one to me that was always the constant. We’ve known each other for 50 years.
At one point, I got kind of fed up with the band and the whole thing, and just quit playing music. I was literally walking home after a breakup with a girl that I was seeing, and there was this club that was on one of those streets that I didn’t really pay attention to, but I heard music coming out of it. And so I went to see what it was. When I walked in the door, there was a band onstage rehearsing – the band onstage was Terry’s band.
Terry said, ‘Jam, what’s up?’ and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said they play on the weekends here, but the guy lets them practice during the week. Terry said I should come join the band. I said, ‘Nah man, I’m not doing that anymore. You know, I’m doing my DJ thing.’ And he said, ‘Nah man, you’re not a DJ, you’re a musician. Come join the band.’ He was on me every day calling me on the phone. I’d go, ‘Man, Terry, I can’t do it. I just broke up with this girl and I’m not really feeling nice.’ He stayed on me and finally broke me down. When I joined the band, Morris Day came along and said, ‘Hey, I want you guys to be my band. I’m going to get a record deal with Prince.’ That moment once again – that was a Terry Lewis moment.