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Rock legend Jim Messina talks upcoming reunion shows with Kenny Loggins

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One of the most successful music duos of all time is about to come together. Fifty years after Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina first performed at the Hollywood Bowl, they’re about to do it again. Loggins and Messina are scheduled for two shows at the historic venue on July 15 and July 16.

During an interview with The Maine Edge, which aired on BIG 104 FM, Jim Messina admits that memories of the duo’s first Hollywood Bowl performance are a little hazy, but he makes a valid point when prompted for his recollections of that day.

Messina’s work with Loggins spanned just five years but they managed to record six albums including the platinum sellers “Sittin’ In” (1971), “Loggins and Messina” (1972) and “Full Sail” (1973). Hit singles included the rocker “Your Momma Don’t Dance,” and pop hits “Thinking of You,” and “My Music.”

Messina was well known in his own right before he met Kenny Loggins as a staff producer at Columbia Records. Four years earlier, at age 19, Messina was a recording engineer for Atlantic Records and was partially responsible for capturing the timeless music heard on the Buffalo Springfield albums “Again” (1967) and “Last Time Around” (1968). The latter album also featured Messina as producer and band member.

When Buffalo Springfield split in 1968, Messina joined founding member Richie Furay in the band Poco with Timothy B. Schmit, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner. After two studio albums and a live record, Messina departed to resume producing other artists.

Messina occasionally tours with his solo band and he recently released the excellent live album “In The Groove,” featuring the late Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar. It’s a beautifully recorded set featuring songs from every era of Messina’s career.

The Maine Edge: One of the fascinating things about the success of Loggins & Messina is that it was kind of a happy accident to have happened at all. Do you see it that way?

Jim Messina: Pretty much, yes. Don Ellis was working in artist development for Columbia Records under Clive Davis. He said he had a friend named Dan Loggins who had a little brother, and they’d like me to check him out. I told him to send me the tapes. This was in July 1971 when I was still working on Poco. So we got together and here this long, tall drink of water wearing braces and blue jeans walks in. I thought “Oh, we’re talking about making a rock and roll star here.” With Kenny’s talent, energy and effort we finally got it together and created a wonderful album with “Sittin’ In” and the rest is history.”

TME: Your reunion shows coming up at the Hollywood Bowl on July 15 & 16 will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first time you and Kenny played that prestigious venue. What do you recall about that 1972 show at the Hollywood Bowl?

Messina: You know, I don’t recall much about it although I do remember being there (laughs). I remember sound checking but I have to tell you, after you do so many shows in so many places, it’s not that they all become the same, but they just sort of run together. When I’m onstage, my total focus is “What am I doing? What’s the next lyric? What’s my part?” It’s hard to think of it in those terms. I’ve always wanted to ask a professional fighter “What was it like when you were in the ring? Do you remember every punch?” (laughs)

TME: Jim, do you think it’s possible that the Hollywood Bowl shows might be the start of a semi-regular get together for Loggins & Messina?

Messina: I don’t know that that is the case. We were talking about getting some shows together but there wasn’t time for Kenny’s schedule to really plan on doing something like that. He has a book he’s been working on and a movie coming out that he wanted to focus on. We’d thought about maybe doing five or six shows a year but to be honest, for the two of us to put three semi-trucks and a bus and the whole production together, it’s just too difficult. But we thought if we did the show at Jones Beach, Red Rocks or the Hollywood Bowl where they have everything there from the crews to the sound system, why not just have fun with this and go do a show and see how it works? If we’re enjoying it and can make it comfortable, then why not do more shows? We’re going to see how these two shows work out and I believe things are going to go very smoothly.

TME: As a producer, you rescued the final album from Buffalo Springfield, “Last Time Around.” They didn’t leave you with much material. Something I’ve always wondered is how much work did you put into it to get that record off the launchpad?

Messina: It was a lot of work. Somewhere around the halfway point, the group decided to go their separate ways. Fortunately, I had enough material there that Stephen (Stills) had done, including “Special Care” and a few other things. I took the group to New York and managed to get “Kind Woman” (a Richie Furay classic) recorded and a number of other things but it’s very difficult to make an album sound cohesive if things are recorded in different places. Fortunately, I had the tools at Sunset Sound (Los Angeles recording studio) to pull that together and get a consistency to where I felt there was camaraderie in the group and in the recordings. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun getting that finished for both the band and Atlantic Records.

TME: Buffalo Springfield only made three albums and I’ve read comments from a lot of fans who cite “Last Time Around” as their favorite which must make you feel good knowing what went into it.

Messina: It does and it makes me realize that if you put in the time, the work and the care into something, regardless of whether you have the right tools or not, if you do a good job, people usually appreciate it and I’m very grateful for that.

TME: As a producer, musician and songwriter, you’ve worked with a huge array of artists over the years. Is there an artist you would like to work with in some capacity if the opportunity arose?

Messina: That’s a really great question. I’m living in the greater Nashville area right now and I’m finding there is a lot of talent out here that is wonderful and there’s a lot of new talent coming along. I think now that I’m here and established home-wise, I am going to start looking for some groups that have the potential to withstand the test of time, meaning they’re great songwriters and great performers. That’s what I look for – new and energetic up and coming artists. If an established artist is there and they’ve got the right attitude and the right creativity, that’s always fun as well.

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 July 2022 05:05

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