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'Sittin' In' once again with Loggins & Messina

An interview with Jim Messina

An interview with Jim Messina

September 17, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa.-- By the time Jim Messina met an up-and-coming Kenny Loggins, Messina was already a music veteran.

He had played with the influential rock group the Buffalo Springfield and later formed the early country-rock band Poco with fellow Springfield alum Richie Furay. During each stint he had produced and engineered albums.

So when Messina met Loggins, the veteran was to be his producer as part of his own deal with CBS. But the two weren't meant to be solo acts - at least not yet.

Messina had been tired of playing country-rock and had returned to producing, something he had been doing since age 17, as a way to regroup.

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"There was a song I had written that went 'I managed to get to my desk and eat late and into the arms of my ultimate fate,'" he said. "I'm reminded of the fact that I was trying to get out of performing and doing all of that when I met Kenny Loggins. Lo and behold it was actually the beginning of all of that."

Messina, now 61, said he saw something in the man who would be his future musical partner.

"I liked his approach to his voice. He was not limited by wanting to sing one kind of music," Messina said during a telephone interview from the road. "He was a good listener and loved music, period, so he was open to doing something more rock or something more soulful or something more acoustic. And that has been his greatest asset, as far as I'm concerned. And in some ways, it's been his greatest curse, because he's so good at singing that he wants to sing everything."

What resulted from that first meeting became 1972's "Sitting In," which was actually billed as Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina. That same year the duo would put out their first official self-titled Loggins & Messina album featuring hits such as "Your Mama Don't Dance."

Until the duo disbanded in 1977, they produced eight albums, selling 16 million albums worldwide.

After '77, Loggins established himself as a successful solo act. Messina continued to do his own musical projects including returning to the producing chair.

Then in 2004, Messina was asked to be a part of a Christmas benefit concert in which Loggins was performing in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"In the process of singing, we both recognized the sound of our voices together is something we have never been able to accomplish with anybody else," Messina said.

After letting the agents and managers hash out the logistics, the duo reunited in 2005 for a reunion tour aptly titled "Sittin' In Again." The tour was so successful that they are doing it again in 2009, which includes a stop at Shippensburg University's H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center tonight.

In the beginning, Loggins has said in interviews, he looked up to Messina as a mentor because of his experience. Messina said today, that dynamic has changed.

"For me, it meant allowing me to take little bit more of a passive role to accept that he has done very well in his career. He's a great singer, " Messina said, "and what is it that he can bring to this that can make it more than just what it was?"

Messina said he's enjoying the more mellow approach.

"In fact, I was sitting here this morning thinking that in many ways I'm becoming more like he was in the beginning, because I don't need to worry about that. I can sit back and enjoy being just a musician and play," he said.

Q&A with Jim Messina

Jim Messina, 61, who is best known for the second half of Loggins and Messina, was on the road with the reunited duo when The Herald-Mail caught up with him. Later that evening he was scheduled to perform at a venue in Windsor, Ontario, before off to the next venue. Here's a conversation with Messina.

Herald-Mail: Most of your younger fans may not realize it, but you started out as a producer.

Messina: Before I left high school, I was 17 or something like that. I think (it was) the summer before, a man name of Bob Edwards, a DJ at a local station KCBY in the Disneyland Hotel, had found me through some source and had asked me to produce some records for him.

I said, "Well, I don't know what that means."

He said, "Well, I'll help you do that, if you're open to do that. And if your parents will let you. I'd like to have you do that for me."

He brought me into Hollywood and I met this engineer, Mike Durough, who's become this very famous and very rich engineer. At that time, we were both very young and poor. ... By the time I graduated high school I had become friends with Mike Durough. When that thing finished with IBS records, now I'm old enough to move to Hollywood. I started apprenticing under Mike's care, becoming a recording engineer.

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