In collaboration with partner Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis emerged as one of the most successful producers and writers of the 1980s, his long history of pace-setting R&B, club, and pop hits reaching its apex on a series of smash records for Janet Jackson. Born November 21, 1956, in Omaha, NE, he first met Jam (then James Harris III) while attending high school in Minneapolis, and together they formed Flyte Tyme, a popular Twin Cities band that in 1981 evolved into the Time, a group led by Prince protégé Morris Day. Shortly after the release of the Time's Prince-produced eponymous debut LP, Jam and Lewis formed Flyte Time Productions. In March 1983, while touring with the Time in support of Prince, the duo took advantage of a short break in their schedule to fly to Atlanta to produce a handful of tracks for the S.O.S. Band's On the Rise LP. After a freak blizzard left Jam and Lewis stranded in Georgia and unable to make it to the next Time show, Prince dismissed them from the band; fortunately, their S.O.S. Band track "Just Be Good to Me" soon became a smash and their career as producers was well on its way.
In quick succession, Jam and Lewis scored R&B hits for the likes of Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, Thelma Houston, and Klymaxx, their signature sound — lush yet sleek, street-smart yet urbane — immediately coming into focus. In 1985, they began their collaboration with Jackson, who at the time was struggling to step out of the shadow of her famous musical family, most notably pop icon brother Michael. The album that resulted, 1986's chart-topping Control, made Jackson a superstar, its cutting-edge grooves yielding a string of mammoth hits, including "What Have You Done for Me Lately?," "Nasty," "When I Think of You," "The Pleasure Principle," "Let's Wait Awhile," and the title track. The breakthrough success of Control earned Jam and Lewis a Grammy Award as Producers of the Year and they followed with the Human League's chart-topping comeback smash "Human"; hits for the Force M.D.'s ("Tender Love") and Herb Alpert ("Keep Your Eye on Me") were quickly forthcoming, and the duo even produced tracks for Pia Zadora.