Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Rise Of Kenny Loggins

Once upon a time, there was a band called Buffalo Springfield. Featuring three songwriters in Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay, Buffalo Springfield were one of the more promising California folk-rock bands, arguably rivaled only by The Byrds. But the band never quite capitalized on the momentum generated by their one big hit, "For What It's Worth" (otherwise known as "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound"):

By 1968, the band was falling apart. Enter a Texas musician named Jim Messina.

After kicking around in several obscure bands and learning the tricks of the recording studio, Messina ended up being asked to produce what would be the third and final Buffalo Springfield album. But in addition to producing the album, Messina ended up playing on it, essentially becoming a member of the band. While Stills and Young drifted off into obscurity (I mean whatever happened to those guys?), Furay and Messina decided to start a country rock group named Poco. After three mildly successful albums of mellow California goodness, Messina left the group, unsure of where he wanted to go next.

Enter Kenneth Clark Loggins.

Could there be a better last name for a '70s California country rock musician than "Loggins"? Think about it. From Wikipedia:
Jim Messina, formerly of Poco and Buffalo Springfield, was working as an independent record producer for Columbia Records in 1970 when he met Kenny Loggins, a little-known singer/songwriter who was signed to ABC-Dunhill. The two recorded a number of Loggins' compositions in Messina's home living room. When Columbia signed Loggins to a six-album contract (with the assistance of Messina), recording began in earnest for Loggins' debut album, with Messina as producer. Messina originally intended to lend his name to the Loggins project only to help introduce the unknown Loggins to Messina's well-established Buffalo Springfield and Poco audiences. But by the time the album was completed, Messina had contributed so much to the album - in terms of songwriting, arrangement, instrumentation, and vocals - that an "accidental" duo was born.
Together, Loggins & Messina spun their soft rock magic throughout the early '70s. They could burn the house down with an uptempo 12-bar blues rocker like "Your Mama Don't Dance":

Or they could break your heart with a folk-rock ballad like "Danny's Song," written by Kenny as a tribute to his brother, who was having his first child:

But ultimately, Kenny wanted more. He wanted worldwide glory and fame. Mostly he wanted to create Smooth Music. Maybe Stevie Nicks wasn't the new partner he was looking for:

No, it wasn't until he teamed up with another '70s Mellow Rock icon that Yacht Rock was truly born.

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