An undisputed expert in the fine art of making hit music, Jim Messina’s legacy of musical genius spans five decades, three super groups, a vibrant solo career and scores of producing and engineering credits.
Oh, the stories he’ll tell!
Jim Messina was an engineer and bass guitar player for Buffalo Springfield, a band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a founding member of the seminal band Poco, a group credited with creating country rock, and he was one-half of Loggins & Messina, one of the most successful duos of the 1970’s. Now, 50 years after stepping into the studio with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay as the recording engineer on Buffalo Springfield Again, Messina and his guitar will take the stage with the stories and songs that made Buffalo Springfield, Poco and Loggins & Messina such icons.
When Buffalo Springfield disbanded, Messina signed a contract with Epic Records as a producer and recording artist. With fellow Buffalo Springfield alumnus Richie Fury, he formed Poco, which was originally named “Pogo” after the comic strip. Their debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, is the only debut album to receive a perfect rating from Rolling Stone. The album set out a blue print for a new musical genre uniting country with rock and led the way for future artists like the Eagles.
Poco’s second album, called Poco, had Messina as producer and writer of the band’s first hit single, “You Better Think Twice,” one of the group’s signature songs. A copy of the album hangs in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. After three more albums with Poco, Messina left and signed on as an independent producer with Columbia Records.
Towards the end of 1970, Messina opened up his living room to record a number of compositions for a promising young songwriter named Kenny Loggins. Messina felt that Loggins’ music had more of a folk sound. He suggested to Columbia’s Clive Davis that he ‘sit in’ much as jazz artists had in the past and that Loggins try to add more upbeat material. The result was the album Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In. It included Messina songs like “Listen to a Country Song,” and “Nobody But You.” An accidental duo was born.
In the next few years Loggins and Messina would release a series of albums, from the eponymous Loggins and Messina to Full Sail to Mother Lode, So Fine, Native Sons and Finale. At the end of their time together, they had sold 16 million albums, become one of rock’s biggest live draws and cemented their legacy as one of the most successful recording duos ever.
Messina began a successful solo career and reunited with Poco for the 1989 album, Legacy. He established the Songwriters’ Performance Workshop and said its goal “was to empower the amateur to let go of the fear and embrace the joy of writing and performing their original music.”
Loggins and Messina reunited for a benefit in 2004 and it was as if they hadn’t been apart. “There was something there I had not been able to duplicate with anyone else,” Messina said. “There was a spark I’d completely forgotten about. It’s still there!”
Now Messina wants to share the stories and songs that have filled his life.
“The road most traveled in my innocence was with this band of poets and it is the same road that ‘Twists and Turns’ as I journey along my musical road of life,” he said. “For ‘I Ride with ‘Sinners’ and I sing with ‘Saints’ and I do what I do to avoid what I can’t. I’ll pass on the judgment, now you make the call. I’m a playin’ my hand. Oh…the way the cards fall.’”
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