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New era for Loggins

Hitmaker from the '70s and '80s finds new fans

Oct. 9, 2008

Jackson Citizen Patriot

By Bill Chapin

Don't nobody worry about Kenny Loggins. He's doing all right.

The singer-songwriter's tunes may no longer get the radio airplay they did back in the '80s -- when he was the undisputed king of soundtracks thanks to hits from such movies as “Caddyshack,” “Top Gun” and “Footloose” -- but he's still recording and touring.

If fact, Loggins said, he's noticed his audiences have been growing on this most recent tour, which includes a stop at Jackson Community College's Potter Center on Saturday, and they've been skewering a bit younger.

“My audience is usually 35 and up, and now I'm seeing more like 25 and up,” he said. “I'm not sure why.”

His best guess is a resurgence in interest in “Footloose.” The 1984 movie was made into a successful Broadway musical -- one that Loggins' youngest daughter loves and wants to appear in someday -- and there are talks about a remake starring “High School Musical” heartthrob Zac Efron.

Of course, there's the “Yacht Rock” factor, too. A lower-than-low-budget series of online videos with a cult following, “Yacht Rock” fictionalizes the lives of 1970s soft rock stars. The first episode told the not-quite-true story of how Loggins and Michael McDonald teamed up to write “What a Fool Believes.”

“My kids think it's hilarious,” said Loggins, who has five children ranging from age 10 to 27.

His eldest son, Crosby -- who is following in his dad's musical footsteps and was the winner of MTV's “Rock the Cradle” reality show -- is trying to convince him and McDonald to shoot their own video and send it to the “Yacht Rock” creators.

The young singer thinks the online phenomenon has renewed interest in his father's '70s hits.

Loggins is skeptical, but whatever the reason, he is happy that fans are still interested in his old material and responding well to his new material.

“I'm very pleasantly surprised,” he said. “I've had (tours) where I've played new material and people go to the bathroom.”

His latest album, “How About Now,” was given a wide release last month after being available only at Target stores since last year. He recently signed a deal with Disney to record his third album of children's songs.

Loggins lived briefly in Detroit as an infant before his family settled in Alhambra, Calif.

“I was raised by two big brothers,” he said. “One was deep into R&B and one was deep into rockabilly” -- both of which have influenced his own musical style.

He wrote his first song in junior high school after a friend showed him how to play Bob Dylan's “Blowing in the Wind” on guitar.

“I'd never heard it. I was so impressed I went back to my house that night ... and wrote my first song,” he said, calling the result “very folky, very Dylan-ish.”

He was still in high school when he wrote “House on Pooh Corner,” which the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded in 1970 along with three more of his songs. That got his foot in the door and led to a meeting with former Poco and Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina.

Messina originally was going to produce Loggins' debut. Instead, they released six albums as a duo before Loggins set out as a solo artist.

They reunited for a 2005 tour. Loggins said the songs on his new album were directly inspired by the experience.

“When people ask me to describe the new album, I say, `It's a Loggins & Messina record,' “ he said. “I went back to the kind of songwriting I did as a kid, which was acoustic guitar-based,” and the result was a more folk- and country-tinged sound.

Loggins said he and his management entertained the notion of trying to break into the country market a la The Eagles and Bon Jovi but decided against it.

“To really cross over into country requires that you be embraced by country radio, and they don't go easily,” he said. “The level of dedication it would take from me would be superhuman, and I'm really not worried about that sort of thing.

“I have never been held down to one style of music, and that is also the primary criticism of my music: It's so schizophrenic. But I was raised in an era when Paul McCartney and John Lennon did whatever the hell they wanted.”

In other words, he's more apt to listen to his own heart beating.


If you go …

  • What: Kenny Loggins in concert
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Potter Center, Jackson Community College main campus, 2111 Emmons Road, Summit Township
  • Cost: $38, $43, $47
  • Details: 796-8600 or

Facts about Kenny Loggins

  • Born: Jan. 7, 1948, in Everett, Wash.
  • Style: Soft rock, adult contemporary, folk-pop
  • Influences: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Kingston Trio, Little Richard
  • Recordings: Six studio albums as a duo with Jim Messina and 14 as a solo artist, four of which have gone platinum, as has his greatest-hits collection, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” The most recent album, “How About Now,” was re-released last month.
  • Biggest hit: “Footloose” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified platinum for moving more than 1 million units.
  • Online:


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