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Loggins and Messina

Loggins and Messina

Loggins and Messina, initially formed in 1971 as an informal arrangement of Kenny Loggins with producer Jim Messina, the duo’s Sittin’ In album proved so popular that they formed a road band to tour and record as Loggins and Messina. Membership: Kenny Loggins, gtr., voc. (b. Everett, Wash., Jan. 7, 1948); Jim Messina, gtr., bs., voc. (b. Maywood, Calif., Dec. 5,1947).

Messina was a veteran record engineer, producer, and former member of two of America’s early country-rock bands, the Buffalo Springfield and Poco, whereas Loggins was a professional songwriter. With Messina providing the harder-edged songs and Loggins gentle, melodic classics such as “Danny’s Song” and “A Love Song,” Loggins and Messina enjoyed considerable success as an album act until their breakup in 1976. As a solo act Loggins became one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the 1980s, establishing himself with both FM radio and easy-listening audiences.

Jim Messina formed several surf bands while still in high school and later recorded an obscure surf-and-dragster album in 1964. After high school he moved to Hollywood, where he learned the fundamentals of studio engineering at Harmony Recorders and Sunset Sound. Messina was introduced to the burgeoning local folk-rock scene when David Crosby asked him to record Joni Mitchell’s first demonstration tape. Word of Messinas prowess as an engineer made its way to Neil Young, who enlisted Messina for “Hung Upside Down” and “Broken Arrow” from Buffalo Springfield Again. With the departure of Bruce Palmer, Messina was recruited to play bass for the Buffalo Springfield, and to engineer and produce Last Time Around, to which he contributed “Carefree Country Day.”

The stormy career of the Buffalo Springfield ended in summer 1968, and members Messina and Richie Fur ay formed Poco, with Messina staying on for the group’s first three albums. Leaving Poco in November 1970, Messina became a staff producer at Columbia Records. The following month he met songwriter Kenny Loggins. Loggins had grown up in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra and started singing as a child. He took up guitar in high school and performed in the bands Gator Creek and Second Helping, later dropping out of Pasadena City Coll. to concentrate on songwriting. Serving as a staff writer for ABC/Wingate, Loggins saw one of his compositions, “House at Pooh Corner,” become a minor hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in early 1971.

Jim Messina was assigned to produce Kenny Log-gins’s debut solo album for Columbia, but Messina suggested that they record it together, with Messina informally Sittin’ In. The album yielded the minor hit “Vahevala” and contained excellent songs by both artists, including Messina’s “Nobody but You” and “Peace of Mind,” and Loggins’s “House at Pooh Corner” and the gently celebratory “Danny’s Song,” a near-smash hit for Anne Murray in early 1973. Sittin’ In sold so well (staying on the album charts more than two years) that Loggins and Messina decided to join forces, officially inaugurating their duo career with Loggins and Messina. That album included the smash hit “Your Mama Can’t Dance” (cowritten by the two), the major hit “Thinking of You” (by Messina), and the duo’s “Angry Eyes.”

Touring regularly, Loggins and Messina eventually played more than seven hundred engagements in five years. Full Sail produced their last major hit, “My Music,” and contained Loggins’s “Love Song” and Messina’s “You Need a Man.” After Mother Lode, which yielded minor hits with “Changes” and “Growin’,” and Native Sons, Loggins and Messina agreed to part company, completing their farewell tour in September 1976. Columbia soon issued the anthology set The Best of Friends.

Jim Messina eventually recorded three solo albums. Kenny Loggins quickly recorded his solo debut album, Celebrate Me Home, for Columbia. The album yielded a minor hit with “I Believe in Love,” and Loggins toured as opening act to Fleetwood Mac in 1977. He performed at a wide variety of venues, including auditoriums, supper clubs, and casinos, in support of 1978’s Night-watch, which produced a smash hit with “Whenever I Call You Friend,” cowritten with Melissa Manchester and sung as a rather incongruous duet with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Keep the Fire yielded a moderate hit with the title song and a near-smash with “This Is It,” with Michael McDonald on backing vocal.

During the 1980s Kenny Loggins initiated a highly successful career as a soundtrack performer with the near-smash “I’m Alright” from the movie Caddyshack. Following the major hits “Don’t Fight It” (cowritten and sung with Journey’s Steve Perry), “Heart to Heart” (with backing vocals by Michael McDonald), and “Welcome to Heartlight,” Loggins scored two bits from the movie Footloose, the top hit title song and the major hit “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man).” The Tom Cruise movie Top Gun included the Loggins’s smash “Danger Zone,” whereas Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top produced the major hit “Meet Me Halfway,” and Caddy-shack II the near-smash “Nobody’s Fool.” The latter two hits were also included on Back to Avalon, which yielded minor hits with “I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Tell Her,” a remake of the Exciters’ 1963 hit “Tell Him.”

Loggins’s 1991 album Leap of Faith produced hits with “Real Thing,” “If You Believe,” and “Conviction of the Heart,” an environmental song featured in campaigns in American public schools and used by the National Park Service. Kenny Loggins’s Outside from the Redwoods was recorded with Michael McDonald and Shanice, and his 1994 album Return to Pooh Corner produced a major easy listening hit with the title song.

Discography

kenny loggins and jim messina:Sittin In (1972); L. and M.(1972); Full Sail (1973); On Stage (1974); Mother Lode (1974); So Fine (1975); Native Sons (1976); The Best of Friends (1976); Finale (1977). kenny loggins:Celebrate Me Home (1977); Nightwatch (1978); Keep the Fire (1979); Alive (1980); High Adventure (1982); Vox Humana (1985); Back to Avalon (1988); Leap of Faith (1991); Outside from the Redwoods (1993); Return to Pooh Corner (1994). jim messina:Oasis (1979); Messina (1981); One More Mile (1983).

—Brock Helander

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