Jam & Lewis shaped pop history. They are also working on its future.


Some of the high-end instruments were once in a storage space across the street – the Linn drum machine they used on the “Control” album; the SP1200 drum machine they used on Jackson’s “Miss You Much”, “Escapade” and “Love Will Never Do Without You”; the OB-8 synthesizer which gives “Encore” its bass notes with Lewis’ live playing (yes, this song has two bass parts). An 808 was so special – used on jams for SOS Band and New Edition, as well as “Volume One” – it was kept in a plexiglass case.

A young hip-hop producer once asked Jam if he had 808 sounds stored on a computer, and Jam just showed him the actual material. “He started calling all of his boys,” Jam recalls. “’Dude, Jam, I have an 808, man. No, not the sounds, man. The real machine! ‘ It was hilarious for me.

Jam says they have considered cutting back on their intake. But some things happened to change their minds. On the one hand, they were working with singer Robyn, who also wanted to see a legendary 808 with her own eyes. “She was the one who sparked this idea” of moving, Jam said. So now a visitor can walk around and “see the piano that ‘Tender Love’ was made on, or you see the drum machine that ‘Saturday Love’ was made on.”

They also found a note left by Michael Jackson asking them if they wouldn’t mind importing some sounds he liked on Janet’s “Nasty” into a project they were working on with him. “I wasn’t there, so he had it taped to the keyboard,” Jam said. “So literally it was the note with a piece of duct tape still on it from Michael Jackson. And Terry and I kind of looked at each other and said, well, we have to move all these boxes, we can’t. just throw them away.

Two years ago, help was on the way. Jam mentioned that someone from the Smithsonian had recently come out to examine the possibility of displaying certain items for posterity. He said their gear and gear have also sparked interest at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where one of Jam’s fedoras already lives.

The tour that started with Lewis and ended with Jam ended only because three hours had passed and some of us were hungry. For alimentation. But also for the news. Robyn, Lewis said, would be in “Volume Two”. Jackson too.

I asked when it could be.

Lewis’s eyebrows arched on his sunglasses, then he smiled.

“After ‘Volume One.'”


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