Kenny Loggins says he’s gone into the final tour he’s calling This Is It with mixed emotions.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 21,” he says. “A lot of my adult identity is tied up in being a performer. At the same time, I’ve been doing this since I was 21. And I’m sick and tired of it.”
“It’s time to come in off the road,” he says. “There are so many logical reasons why. But I think what it finally boiled down to is ‘It’s time.’ I’ve been on the road for a long time, been a traveling salesman, so to speak.”
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‘It’s like the Ancient Mariner. I need to go inland and bury the anchor’
Loggins has three grandkids and another on the way.
“It’s just time to be home and to travel for pleasure when I travel. It’s like the Ancient Mariner. I need to go inland and bury the anchor.”
A lot of that comes down to age. He did just turn 75, as did his vocal cords.
“As we get older,” Loggins says, “our voices change.”
When COVID-19 took him off the road in 2020, Loggins got a crash course in how much our voices change.
“I wasn’t continually using the muscle,” he says. “And I saw that my voice was beginning to atrophy really quickly. So I hired a vocal coach out of LA named Ken Stacey, and Ken and I have been working together as much as five days a week to rebuild and reconstruct what’s naturally there.”
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‘I’m just trying to hit on all the emotions’
He learned a singing technique that’s helped him get the notes back, allowing him to feel more confident as he heads out to say goodbye to the fans whose continued support has allowed him to live out his dreams for more than 50 years.
“I think the other side of the mixed emotion is gratitude,” Loggins says. “I’m excited to get out there and express my gratitude to the audience.”
Loggins brings his final tour to Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek on Sunday, March 26, as part of the Shea Homes Good Life Festival Presented by Subaru.
The setlist was designed to make a strong connection with the audience, including “emotional messages to myself that become universal, like recovery from a painful time in one’s life,” while still allowing for “fun party songs” like “Danger Zone” and “Footloose” to get everybody smiling.
“I’m just trying to hit on all the emotions,” he says.
He has about 10 songs worked up and ready to go if he decides that’s what he’s feeling in the moment.
“I really have to allow myself to be in touch with whatever emotions are coming through me,” Loggins says.
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Kenny Loggins looks back on the early days with Jim Messina
He also plans to do some reminiscing.
“‘Danny’s Song’ goes back to when I was a senior in high school,” he says.
That song was featured on the album that launched his career, 1971’s “Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In.”
As the title of that album suggests, they didn’t initially plan on becoming a duo. Messina had been brought in to produce the album and ended up becoming much more heavily involved — singing, playing, bringing songs into the sessions.
Once Messina started singing lead on those songs, Loggins says, “we knew it was a duo.”
They ended up making six albums together, charting big hits with “Your Mama Don’t Dance” (later covered by Poison), “Thinking of You” and “My Music.”
“The blend was like an Everly Brothers kind of blend,” Loggins says. “It really felt familiar and fun and comfortable.”
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Incorporating ‘chords I’d never played before’ on ‘Celebrate Me Home’
Still, Loggins was excited to go solo with 1977’s “Celebrate Me Home.”
“By that time, we had been together six years, which is what we’d promised Clive Davis,” Loggins says. “And my writing was changing dramatically. I was writing with chords I’d never played before, tonal things I’d never done before.”
He found himself collaborating on the title track to “Celebrate Me Home” with Bob James, a jazz legend brought in to serve as Loggins’ musical director for the album by producer Phil Ramone.
“That whole melody was in my head,” Loggins says. “But I didn’t know how to play it. So I would work with keyboard players because they could make chords that I couldn’t do on guitar. And it would trigger my imagination.”
Loggins had grown up with two older brothers. One was into folk and country. The other turned him on to early R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, from Dion and the Belmonts to Fats Domino and Little Richard.
“So when I evolved through the folk or country-rock that was Loggins and Messina, I naturally evolved into my R&B roots and moved more into a Stevie Wonder kind of vibe,” Loggins says.
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How ‘some of us skinny white people’ arrived at yacht rock
He listened to Wonder’s “Music of My Mind” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” for inspiration.
“Those were like, ‘What the (expletive)? This is fantastic. And how do we do this?'” he says with a laugh.
“And that’s how some of us skinny white people came up with what they now call yacht rock, because we were leaning more into the R&B of that era with really great, exceptionally musical players that sort of leaned towards more of the smooth jazz era that was just beginning at that time. So it was a confluence of of different influences.”
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Initial reaction to the yacht-rock tag? ‘I’m not sure this is flattering’
By now, Loggins has embraced the yacht-rock mantle.
“It doesn’t scare me anymore,” he says. “It did at first. When my kids showed me the videos, I was like, ‘I’m not sure this is flattering.'”
“But what I have embraced is the fact that Mike McDonald and I and others who were leaning into that style, we just thought we were making music,” he says.
“It was like the next logical thing to do. But now thanks to yacht rock and the people who came up with that term, we now have a classification for the style of music we did. And it’s easier for people to say, ‘Oh, I like that. I want to hear more of whatever that is.'”
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When Kenny Loggins worked with Stevie Nicks on ‘Whenever I Call You Friend’
Loggins’ first big solo hit was “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Stevie Nicks.
“When I went solo, the first major gig I got was as Fleetwood Mac’s opening act right at the beginning of ‘Rumours,'” Loggins says.
That led to hanging out after the shows and getting to be friends with Nicks.
“She was incredibly generous and said, ‘If you need a singer, give me a call,'” he recalls. “And I asked a couple times if she was serious about that, and she was.”
It wasn’t long after that that he co-wrote “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Melissa Manchester.
“Even though Melissa was a recording artist, I knew this was the opportunity to work with Stevie,” he says.
“And Stevie had become what looked to be the biggest female artist in the world. Cher was still being Cher, so I don’t know if that counts. But Stevie was the up-and-coming young, cool, hip thing.”
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How Kenny Loggins became the king of movie soundtracks
In 1980, Loggins had his second Top 10 solo hit with “I’m Alright” from “Caddyshack.” It was the first of several soundtrack hits, from the chart-topping “Footloose” to “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun” that earned him the nickname the King of Movie Soundtracks.
“I had done ‘A Star Is Born’ with Barbra, and her boyfriend was Jon Peters,” Loggins says.
“So I got to know Jon. Next thing I know, Jon and Barbra had broken up, he’s producing his first movie and it’s called ‘Caddyshack.’ Because I was a friend of his, he called me up and said, ‘Would you be interested in writing a song or two for the movie?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.'”
Peters showed him a rough cut, which did not include the famous gopher scene.
“He said, ‘This part here is where the gopher is gonna come out of the golf hole,'” Loggins says. “I said, ‘That’s really stupid. Never gonna work.’ I was wrong.”
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Talking ‘Danger Zone’ with ‘Top Gun’ star Tom Cruise
Loggins was thrilled to have his recording of “Danger Zone” used again in last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Two years before that, I’d gone through the renaissance of ‘Footloose’ with the Blake Shelton version,” he says. “And I got to perform that with Blake on the CMAs. Then around comes ‘Danger Zone.'”
Loggins met with Tom Cruise just as the actor was starting work on “Top Gun: Maverick,” which he also co-produced.
“I said to him, ‘Tell me the truth. Is “Danger Zone” part of this project or not?’ He said ‘It wouldn’t be “Top Gun” without “Danger Zone.”‘ And he stayed true to his word.”
Why ‘Footloose’ is Kenny Loggins’ favorite movie song
“Footloose” is his favorite use of something he recorded in a movie — in part because it shows people dancing to the actual recording.
“Hollywood rarely uses the actual song or tempo that they put in later,” Loggins says.
“So the dancers always look incredibly uncoordinated. With ‘Footloose,’ they danced to the actual music, or in some cases, I hadn’t finished the recording, so they took a Chuck Berry tune and sped it up to the tempo of ‘Footloose’ so they’d still be dancing to the right tempo. I think that’s why the music works so well.”
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Why reunions with Messina are like ‘putting on clothes that are too tight’
Loggins and Messina reunited last year for two shows at the Hollywood Bowl.
“The trick to doing Loggins and Messina is that it takes a lot of homework because I have to go back and relearn all those songs, which takes a bit of woodshedding,” he says.
It was a bittersweet experience.
“On one hand, I feel a lot of gratitude for all that Jimmy taught me during those early years,” he says.
“He had already been a pro with Buffalo Springfield, and then again on the road with Poco. I had never been on the road, so I had a lot of learning to do.”
At the same time, Loggins has moved a bit since going solo in the ’70s.
“That isn’t who I am anymore,” he says. “I stopped being that guy — that folk-rock, country-rock guy — in ’76. So to go back and do that, it just feels like I’m putting on clothes that are too tight. It’s not really who I am or the kind of music that I do or love to do.”
Asked if Messina is one of the friends he’s said he may bring out to join him on this final tour, Loggins seems a bit taken aback.
“It’s interesting that you bring that up,” he says. “I hadn’t really thought of that. I was thinking of David Foster and Mike McDonald and some of the cats that I worked with in the beginning of my solo career.”
Like Stevie Nicks?
“I’ve tried to rope her in for ‘Whenever I Call You Friend’ a couple times,” Loggins says. “She’s always on her own thing.”
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What’s next for Kenny Loggins?
Loggins doesn’t see this as the end of his professional career. He plans on working with young artists as a mentor and producer.
“I feel like that’s the season I’ve moved into,” Loggins says.
He may produce a show if he can make that happen.
“Creativity is the key to staying vital as we get older,” Loggins says. “So I want to keep my hands in projects that will express that and at the same time have the freedom to if my gal and I want to run away for a month I can do that.”
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Kenny Loggins at the Good Life Festival
When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 26.
Where: Schnepf Farms, 24810 S. Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek.
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.
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