James Brown, whose career was about to experience a resurgence, released The Original Disco Man.
James Chance & the Contortions released their first and only album, Buy.
The volatile Contortions imploded almost immediately, leading Chance to form a new group, James White & the Blacks, and release the record Off White.
J. M. Coetzee was preparing to publish Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), for which he would win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction (in 1980).
Jack Vance published The Face.
James A. Michener was preparing to publish The Covenant (1980).
James Wright was nearing the end of his life (he would die on 25 March 1980).
Jean M. Auel was preparing to publish her first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980).
Jean Rhys passed away (on 14 May).
Jean-François Lyotard published La condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge).
It would not be translated into English until 1984 (by Geoffrey Bennington and Brian Massumi).
Jean-Paul Sartre was nearing the end of his life (he would die on 15 April 1980).
Jeffrey Archer published his eventual bestseller Kane and Abel.
Jello Biafra (of the Dead Kennedys) founded his record label Alternative Tentacles.
Jennifer Love Hewitt was born (on 21 February).
Jerry Goldsmith composed the soundtrack for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman were preparing to publish No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980), the first biography of Jim Morrison.
Jethro Tull released Stormwatch.
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker made the disaster spoof Airplane!
Jim Henson directed The Muppet Movie (the first film I saw in a theater).
It featured the hit song “The Rainbow Connection,” composed by Kenny Ascher & Paul Williams.
Henson also won a Grammy for The Muppet Show record (Best Recording for Children).