Over the past four decades, Kenny Loggins has produced 12 platinum albums and won two Grammys. All well and good but frankly who cares, it’s his movie soundtrack work that makes him a cult hero. From “Caddyshack,” and “Footloose” to ”Top Gun” Kenny Loggins is the undisputed ‘Soundtrack King.
Kenny, now 66, started out when he was 21. As a fan of sixties hemp enthusiasts Buffalo Springfield he noticed the producer of the band was Jimmy Messina and started sending him demos. One thing led to another and Loggins and Messina went on to become one of the most successful singing-songwriting duos of the 1970s.
However Loggins had even bigger success in the ’80s as a solo act. It began with “I’m Alright” from anarchic Bill Murray vehicle Caddyshack. Hits followed with “Footloose” and “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)” from Footloose; “Meet Me Half Way” from bizarre Arm Wrestling Movie Over the Top; and “Danger Zone” and “Playing With the Boys” from Top Gun. Loggins also performed “Nobody’s Fool” from the film Caddyshack II but the less said about that movie the better.
While he knew “Top Gun” was going to be a breakout film for Tom Cruise when he recorded “Danger Zone,” Loggins says the popularity of “Footloose” was a complete surprise. “One of my best friends, Dean Pitchford, wrote a screenplay that he called ‘Footloose,’ and he asked me if I would write a couple of songs for the screenplay,” he recalls. “There was no way of predicting that ‘Footloose’ would be the biggest movie of the summer.”
The secret to his songwriting, Loggins says, is a personal connection. “I needed to write music that touched my heart, that had something to do with who I am and where I am in my life,” he says. “And the deeper I could go with that, the more likely it would touch other people.” He later performed as a member of USA for Africa on the famine-relief fundraising single “We Are the World”, which led to an appearance performing “Footloose” at the Philadelphia leg of the July 13, 1985 Live Aid famine relief dual-venue charity concert and global television broadcast.
During the 1990s, Loggins continued his album career, including the popular 1994 children’s album Return to Pooh Corner, which included the title single, a reworking of “House at Pooh Corner”, written for his new-born son Luke.
In 1991, Loggins recorded and produced Leap of Faith, which included the single “Conviction of the Heart”. Al Gore (US Vice President 1993–2001) billed this song as “the unofficial anthem of the environmental movement.” Unfortunately, in terms of being a pleasurable listen, the song is every bit as bad as the worst of environmental disasters.
So who are the heirs to Kenny Loggins throne? Who are the men and women gleaning hits from the movies? Will Smith has done his share, as has Elton John and there was a time in the late Nineties when you couldn’t have an end credits sequence without the grim spectre of Bono. Frankly none of them measure up. Perhaps we could all tempt Kenny to have one last stab at it…