It's one thing to have hits. It's another to keep them consistent over the course of several decades. And when one considers how fickle the music biz is, it's all the more impressive indeed.
Give Kenny Loggins credit for his ability to bridge the gap and adapt accordingly. Some may call him calculated - and indeed, his ability to write for film certainly helped him sustain success - but there's no denying the fact that Loggins has been able to tap into the public's taste and pop culture. Granted, Loggins has never been the edgiest artist, but he's certainly accomplished. And the fact that he's managed produce hits for most of his career makes him a musical force to be reckoned with.
Loggins took the typical Southern California singer/songwriter route in the late '60s, playing in a pair of country rock outfits -- Second Helping and Gator Creek. He even took a brief role in the psychedelic combo the Electric Prunes before becoming a staff songwriter and penning songs for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He eventually came to the attention of producer Jim Messina, whose own impressive pedigree included stints in Buffalo Springfield and Poco. Thanks to Messina's involvement, what was originally intended as a Loggins solo album created a partnership that would eventually become one of the most successful duos of the '70s. The '60s sensibilities were still evident, but once they started building a bigger imprint on the radio -- courtesy of songs like "House at Pooh Corner," "Danny's Song," "A Love Song," and their most crassly commercial hit of all, "Your Mama Don't Dance" -- it soon became clear, they were ready to expand their sound as well.
Their run on the charts resulted in sales of over 16 million records, and while Messina more or less faded from the spotlight when the two went their own ways in 1976, Loggins managed to keep his winning streak intact. His first solo albums sold millions and reaped several hits - among them "Whenever I Call You Friend" (which paired him with Stevie Nicks), "This Is It," and "Don't Fight It" (a duet with Journey's Steve Perry). Equally impressively, he also turned out hits for other superstars, among them, Barbara Streisand ("I Believe in Love") and the Doobie Brothers, courtesy of a pair of tunes written with Michael McDonald ("What a Fool Believes" and "This Is It"). Never mind the fact that his fan base had shifted from a rock crowd to more of an adult contemporary crew, Loggins was still at the height of his prowess.
In the '80s, Loggins career actually hit new heights, courtesy of the hits spawned from those aforementioned soundtracks. "I'm Alright," (from Caddyshack), "Footloose" (from Footloose), "Danger Zone" (from Top Gun) and, to a lesser extent, "Nobody's Fool" (from Caddyshack II) assured his success with a newer crop of radio listeners while further elevating his status in the mainstream.
As the '80s faded into the '90s, his fan base shifted once again, although it also narrowed. Loggins embraced more spiritual realms with a series of albums that found him treading through more personal terrain - Back to Avalon (1988), Leap of Faith (1997), The Unimaginable Life (1997) and It's About Time (2003). He also delved into the lucrative children's market, repositioning his whimsical early hit "House of Pooh Corner" as a pair of namesake albums for the younger set.
With the exception of two tours that reunited Loggins with Messina in 2005 and 2009, Loggins has maintained a low profile lately, content to keep touring and sharing his hits. His current project is a country outfit dubbed the Blue Sky Riders, whose EP Live At The Rutledge recalls Loggins' earlier Americana origins.
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Which all goes to show -- five decades on, Loggins' longevity is assured.
Kenny Loggins performs at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 at Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Visit ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost between $58 and $78.50.