HOLLYWOOD — A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled Aug. 16 honoring Grammy-winning recording artist-music producer Teddy Riley, the creator of the groundbreaking genre new jack swing.
Riley thanked a wide variety of people during a nearly nine-minute acceptance speech, including music executive Clarence Avant, who he met in 1988 in his first visit to Hollywood, to his mother, Mildred Riley, who attended the ceremony in front of the Stars on Hollywood souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard near Cahuenga Boulevard.
“It’s all because of her,” he said. “I have all the credit to give to you because your praying and all the things that you told me to watch out for. I didn’t do them all, and when I didn’t do the right thing, she was picking me up from the precinct. I was in trouble and she was there.
“She was also there when I was at my lowest. She’s the one who said, ‘If you don’t leave, you’re not going to get nowhere.’ If I didn’t listen to that, maybe I wouldn’t meet you all.”
The rhythm and blues singer-songwriter and record producer Tank, music producer/executive Andre Harrell and Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell preceded Riley in speaking.
In the mid-1980s, Riley introduced a new sound fusing hip-hop and R&B music that would become known as new jack swing. The term was coined in an Oct. 18, 1987, Village Voice profile of Riley by Barry Michael Cooper combining “New Jack,” a slang term meaning “Johnny come lately” used in a song by Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, and “swing,” intended by Cooper to draw an “analogy between the music played at the speakeasies of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time to the crackhouses of Riley’s time.”
Riley’s more than 1,000 credits include composing, producing or writing such hits as “Groove Me,” “Let’s Chill,” “I Like” and “Teddy’s Jam” for Guy; “Just Got Paid,” for Johnny Kemp; “My Prerogative” for Bobby Brown; “Now That We Found Love” for Heavy D & The Boyz; “The Kissing Game” for Hi-Five and “It’s Time” for The Winans.
Riley has also worked with such artists as Keith Sweat, Samantha Mumba, Today, Men of Vizion and Profyle. He helped found the R&B groups Guy in 1987 and Blackstreet in 1991.
Riley is a six-time Grammy nominee, winning in 1993 for best engineered album, non-classical for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” and in 1998 for best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group with vocal for “No Diggity,” by Blackstreet and featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen.
Born Oct. 8, 1967, and raised in the St. Nicholas Houses, a Harlem public housing project, Riley began playing multiple instruments at the church he attended when he was 5 years old. When he was 14, Riley was crafting beats for New York rappers in a studio at his uncle’s famed Harlem nightclub, The Rooftop.
Riley’s first big break came in 1984 when he co-produced the Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew’s single “The Show.”