Poco , seminal West Coast country-rock band of the 1970s. Membership: Jim Messina, lead gtr., bs., voc. (b. Maywood, Calif., Dec. 5, 1947); Richie Furay, rhythm gtr., voc. (b. Yellow Springs, Ohio, May 9, 1944); Randy Meisner, bs., voc. (b. Scottsbluff, Neb., March 8, 1946); Rusty Young, pedal steel gtr., dobro., voc. (b. Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 23, 1946); George Grantham, drm., voc. (b. Cordell, Okla., Jan. 20, 1947). Timothy B. Schmit, bs., voc. (b. Sacramento, Calif., Oct. 30, 1947) replaced Randy Meisner; and Paul Cotton, gtr., voc. (b. Los Angeles, Feb. 26, 1943) replaced Jim Messina, in 1970. Schmit and George Grantham left in 1979, to be replaced by Steve Chapman, drm.; Charlie Harrison, bs.; Kim Bullard, kybd.
Poco did not attain the popularity of the Eagles, the first commercially successful band of the genre, until the late 1970s. By that time founders Jim Messina and Richie Furay had moved on, as had founder Randy Meisner, who subsequently joined and departed the Eagles. Despite the personnel changes, Poco maintained a remarkably consistent sound, featuring group vocal harmonies and rock instrumentation. They recorded several outstanding albums, including 1973’s Crazy Eyes, eventually breaking through with 1979’s Legend and its two hit singles. The group disbanded in 1984 and reunited with the original members in 1989.
Jim Messina and Richie Furay, both former members of the Buffalo Springfield, formed Poco with Rusty Young, Randy Meisner, and George Grantham in August 1968. Debuting at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in November, Poco auditioned for Apple Records but signed with Epic. Given the chaotic career of the Buffalo Springfield, Poco’s debut album was appropriately titled Piekin’ Up the Pieces. The album sold only modestly and failed to yield a hit single. By the time of the album’s release, Meisner had already departed to join Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, later to help form the Eagles. Poco remained a quartet until February 1970, when Timothy B. Schmit joined the band. Poco and Deliverin’ yielded minor hits with Messina’s “You Better Think Twice” and Furay’s “C’mon.”
In November 1970 Jim Messina left Poco to form the successful Loggins and Messina duo with Kenny Log-gins. He was replaced by Paul Cotton, the erstwhile leader of the 111. Speed Press. This lineup—Furay, Young, Cotton, Schmit, and Grantham—recorded three albums and toured extensively, usually as a support act. Crazy Eyes, probably their finest album for Epic, sold moderately and included Furay’s title song as well as excellent versions of Gram Parsons’s “Brass Buttons” and J. J. Cale’s “Magnolia.”
Richie Furay left Poco in September 1973 to form the ill-fated Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, with singer-songwriter John David Souther and Chris Hillman, a former member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. An early associate of Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, Souther had cowritten several songs for the Eagles and contributed three songs to Linda Ronstadt’s album Don’t Cry Now. Formed at the behest of Asylum Records president David Geffen as a prospective supergroup, they scored a major hit with Furay’s “Fallin’ in Love” from their debut album. However, the group encountered a credibility problem brought on by Asylum’s massive hype campaign, and they disbanded in late 1975. Furay later recorded three solo albums for Asylum, managing a moderate hit with “I Still Have Dreams” in late 1979.
With Furay’s departure, Poco continued as a four-piece, with Paul Cotton taking over as lead vocalist and Cotton and Young composing most of the material. They recorded two more albums for Epic before switching to ABC Records in 1975. They were able to achieve minor hits with “Keep On Tryin’” and the title songs to Rose of Cimarron and Indian Summer. However, by March 1978 Timothy B. Schmit had left to join the Eagles and George Grantham had left, to eventually join the Doobie Brothers. Rusty Young, the only remaining original member, and Paul Cotton reconstituted the group for their best-selling album Legend, which yielded the major hits “Crazy Love” and “Heart of the Night.” Buoyed by the album’s success (it stayed on the album charts for a year), Poco continued to tour and record until 1984, when they disbanded.
In 1989 the five original members of Poco—Jim Messina, Richie Furay, Randy Meisner, Rusty Young, and George Grantham—reunited to record Legacy for RCA. The album yielded a moderate hit with “Nothin’ to Hide,” cowritten by producer Richard Marx, and “Call It Love.” They toured in 1990 with drummer Gary Mallaber, but the band soon disintegrated.
Poco: Pickin’ Up the Pieces (1969); P. (1970); Deliverin’ (1971); From the Inside (1971); A Good Feelin’ to Know(1972); Crazy Eyes (1973); Seven (1974); Cantamos (1974); Live (1976); Head Over Heels (1975); Rose of Cimarron (1976); Indian Summer (1977). Legend (1978); Under the Gun (1980); Blue and Gray (1981); Cowboys and Englishmen (1982); Ghost Town (1982); Inamorata (1984); Ghost Town/Inamorata (1995); Legacy (1989). ANTHOLOGIES : The Very Best of P. (1969–1974) (1975); The Songs of Paul Cotton (1979); The Songs of Richie Furay (1979); Tfe Forgotten Trail (1969–1974) (1990); Backwards (1983); Crazy Loving: The Best of P., 1975–1982 (1989). THE SOUTHER-HILLMAN-FURAY BAND : The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (1974); Trouble in Paradise (1975). RICHIE FURAY I’ve Got a Reason (1976); Dance a Little Light (1978); I Still Have a Dream (1979).