Kenneth Clark Loggins on January 7, 1948 in Everett, Washington
Despite his more recent reputation as an adult contemporary and soft rock artist, singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins has put together a remarkably prolific and eclectic career both as a solo artist mainly in the '80s and as half of the duo Loggins & Messina during the '70s. Though not blessed with a surplus of critical respect once he ranged into highly accessible pop/rock and became an '80s film soundtrack staple, Loggins has consistently demonstrated songwriting savvy and integrity in a business that doesn't always reward those attributes. It may never be cool to like Kenny Loggins, but it's understandable.
As Loggins came of age as a teen in southern California, he found music to be a tool with which he could stave off his long-time shyness. Finding some aptitude as a singer and guitarist, the young Loggins spent some time as a member of a couple of mildly successful but long-forgotten bands before finding a bit of a niche as a songwriter for hire. In fact, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's recordings of a few of his songs helped expose Loggins' work to former Buffalo Springfield and Poco member Jim Messina, who as a veteran of the California music scene, hoped to produce the debut album for his artist discovery.
Loggins & Messina, Unexpectedly Successful Duo:
Instead of merely producing, Messina found himself collaborating with Loggins, and the pair developed a partnership that would dominate the folk and country rock sound of the first half of the '70s, starting with 1972's Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin' In. The duo remained a pop music force up until 1976, when both members decided to embark upon solo careers. Loggins' efforts found far more pronounced success, as the singer-songwriter tempered his previously folk and country leanings to forge the highly accessible sound of 1978's "Whenever I Call You Friend," a duet with Fleetwood Mac chanteuse Stevie Nicks.
'80s Solo Career - Right Place, Right Time:
To get a jump start on this next phase of his career, Loggins hooked up with pop-focused Doobie Brother Michael McDonald to write two major hit songs, "What a Fool Believes," a smash for the Doobies, and "This Is It," a catchy number from Loggins' 1979 release, Keep the Fire. These tunes put the singer on the decade's changing pop radar in a big way, and the pleasant, uplifting style favored by Loggins found a perfect match in the anthemic film soundtrack music that would dominate the decade. "I'm Alright" and "Footloose" became huge hits on musical merit but also served to maximize Loggins' exposure.
Loggins Deals Deftly With a Dwindling Audience:
Despite maximum airplay of "Danger Zone" from Top Gun as well as "Meet Me Half Way" and "Nobody's Fool" from films that took a flying leap into silliness, Loggins lost some steam as a viable album artist during the latter half of the '80s. He still managed to produce some chart action during this period but was largely relegated to adult contemporary success, a trend that continued into the '90s. A quieter, less hit-centered career allowed Loggins to focus on starting a family and perform music as time allowed. Through that lull, his '80s efforts continued to hold up even if they never attracted great critical praise.
Looking Back & Forging Ahead:
Having discovered a place for himself releasing children's music during the '90s, Loggins has remained active in the new millennium, releasing some albums here and there but also finding his vintage work to be quite valued by younger generations. More than 30 years into a solo career and with a solid four decades under his belt in the music business, Loggins found 2005 to be the right time to reconnect with his old songwriting and performing partner Messina. The duo embarked upon a successful national tour that reminded audiences of Loggins' durability and versatility as a pop/rock icon.