80s Music

Artist Profile: Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who used to be a part of the duo Loggins and Messina. But as a solo artist, Kenny Loggins made several soundtrack successes such as an Academy Award nomination for “Footloose.” and from the ‘80s to the ‘90s, Kenny Loggins was dubbed as the Soundtrack King. In this article, we are going to know more about Kenny Loggin’s humble beginnings and how he became the Soundtrack King of films. 

Kenny Loggins

Early Life and Careers

Kenny Loggins was born in Everett, Washington and he was the youngest of three brothers. His father, Robert George Loggins, was a salesman, and his mother, Lina, was a homemaker. They lived in Seattle and Detroit before permanently settling in Alhambra, California. Kenny Loggins attended San Gabriel Mission High School and after he graduated in 1966, he formed a band called The Second Helping which released three singles under Viva Records in 1968 and 1969.  He is also cousin to another well known artist Dave Loggins.

Kenny Loggins played the guitar for the band The New Improved Electric Prunes before he wrote songs for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. When he was in his early twenties, Kenny Loggins joined the band Gator Creek along with Mike Deasy, who was a rock and jazz guitarist. They recorded the first version of “Danny’s Song.”

In 1970, Kenny Loggins was introduced to Jim Messina who was working to be an independent producer for Columbia Records. The duo then recorded a handful of Loggin’s composition in Messina’s living room and send it to Columbia records. Loggins then signed a contract with Columbia records for a six-album contract and then recording began for Loggin’s debut album with Jim Messina as the producer. Aside from providing rehearsal space, amps and equipment, Jim Messina also worked long hours with Loggins during his recordings and encouraged the latter to buy himself an electric guitar to play on his debut album. Messina also formed the Kenny Loggins Band by recruiting his friends Merel Bregante, from the band The Sunshine Company, as the drummer, Larry Sims as the bassist, Michael Omartian as the keyboardist, and Mitt Holland as the percussionist. 

Jim Messina originally intended to lend his name to the Loggins project in order to help Kenny to boost his popularity. But by the time Loggins’ debut album was completed, Messina contributed so much in terms of instrumentation, songwriting, arrangement, and vocals that an accidental duo was created. That’s why the album was entitled “Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In.” The album’s first single was the song “Vahevala” which reached the top three spot on a commercial radio station in Chicago.

The album went unnoticed by several radio stations upon its release but it eventually gained success by mid-1972, mostly on college campuses where the duo toured habitually. The duo’s vocal harmonies blended so well that what was meant to be a one-off album became something more. Audiences started to see the pair as a genuine duo rather than a solo act with his well-known producer. That’s why instead of just being a producer of Loggins, the two decided to record as a duo. Thus, Loggins and Messina were formed. 

Both of them plated the guitar, Loggins played the rhythm guitar, electric guitar, and harmonica while Messina played lead guitar, mandolin, and Dobro. In the span of four years, the duo managed to create five more albums with original material in the studio, one album of covers of other artist’s songs, and two live albums. In the early 1970s, they became the most successful duo and they manage to sell over 16 million records. Loggins and Messina managed to release a greatest-hits album entitled “The Best of Friends” a year before they disbanded. 

In 1977, Kenny Loggins decided to pursue a solo career and released his first solo album entitled “Celebrate Me Home” which featured the successful song, “I Believe in Love” which was originally performed by Barbara Streisand in the film “A Star is Born.” The following year, Loggins released his second solo album called “Nightwatch” and it featured the international hit single “Whenever I Call You Friend.” In 1979, he released his third album “Keep the Fire” that was followed by his fourth album “Don’t Fight It” in 1982.

Loggins collaborated with Michael McDonald and co-wrote the song “What a Fool Believes” which reached the number one spot on the pop chart and earned him and McDonald’s the 1980 Song of the Year award at the Grammy’s.

Loggins and McDonald teamed up again and wrote the song “This Is It” for Loggin’s ailing father. The song proved to be a huge success and earned Loggins another Grammy award for the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. 

Soundtrack King

Kenny Loggins recorded several successful songs for different film soundtracks that be became known as the Soundtrack King. This began when he wrote the song “I’m Alright” from the movie Caddyshack. It was followed by the song “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)” and “Footloose” from the movie Footloose. He also wrote the song “Playing with the Boys” from the hit movie “Top Gun.” In 1998, Kenny Loggins recorded a version of the popular Sesame Street song entitled “One Small Voice” for the television special Elmopalooza. 

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