top of page
  • snitzoid

Kenny Loggins Was ‘Terrified’ the First Time He Was Asked to Perform

Kenny Loggins Was ‘Terrified’ the First Time He Was Asked to Perform

The singer-songwriter and memoirist on learning to become a rock star, convincing his dad that music was his passion and dropping out of college to join a band

By Marc Myers

June 14, 2022 11:30 am ET

Kenny Loggins, 74, is an Emmy- and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and the composer of songs for more than 10 films, including ”Caddyshack,” “Footloose” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” He is the author of “Still Alright” (Hachette), a memoir. He spoke with Marc Myers.

The first time I was asked to sing publicly, I passed. I was in seventh grade at Catholic school and the nuns had selected me to be the primary altar boy for their monthly Solemn High Mass.

Initially, I was excited. I was a good student and had avoided the whack of their ruler. But as soon as I heard that the position involved singing in front of the entire school, I froze. I wasn’t ready for that kind of exposure and was terrified. My aspirations to be a rock star were all still in my imagination.

Kenny Loggins at a Seattle department store at Christmastime 1954.


In Alhambra, Calif., my family first lived in a white stucco two-bedroom house with a gable roof. When I was 7, we moved to a brown ranch that wasn’t much bigger in another part of town.

Early on, my father, Robert, was a salesman for Sarah Coventry, a maker of costume jewelry. The company had relocated us from Seattle to Southern California with hopes of expanding there.

But the Los Angeles suburbs were too spread out to produce the sales they wanted. After the company let him go, my father began to suffer from anxiety and depression.

The prescription drugs he took resulted in insomnia, which eventually prevented him from working. My mother, Lina, stepped up and took a job at a local drugstore.

As our family’s financial pressures grew, so did my mother’s resentment. My fear of their impending battles heightened my sensitivity, and I became the peacemaker.

Music came early. My brother, Dan, who was four years older than me, was cool—and restless. I watched my two brothers try to write a rock ‘n’ roll song. Since Bob was 14, he stuck to it. Dan, who was 11, lost his patience.

Danny turned me on to a lot of rock and R&B, and I yearned to play an instrument and start a band. I borrowed his old Kay nylon-string acoustic guitar. In high school, I took lessons from the big brother of a friend who taught me to play folk. I also hung around guitar-playing friends. We’d sit on a lawn after school and trade tunes and chords.

In my senior year, I formed Second Helping, a folk-rock band. We were good enough that we recorded a single, “Let Me In.” This motivated us to become a working band, make money and become stars.

First, we needed original material. Writing lyrics was never a problem for me. I was drawn to poetry.

After graduation but before I started Pasadena City College, I went on a date with a girl and two other couples from high school. As we drove home, I realized I’d moved beyond this scene and wanted more, but I wasn’t sure what.

From aspirational residences to major commercial deals.

As we passed the Tower, a mellow folk-dance club in Pasadena, I asked the guy driving to pull over. I got out and said goodnight.

Inside the club, the owner was about to drive people up to San Francisco for a peace rally. Invited to join, I got into the car and off we went.

After that summer, I returned home and attended college, majoring in music. But I didn’t have the discipline to study formally, so I switched to telecommunications.

I also began going to concerts by great rock artists and groups. In the middle of my sophomore year at Pasadena, I was asked to join the Electric Prunes.

My father was concerned. I said to him, “Dad, I’m spending 90% of my time doing something I don’t want to do and only 10% doing what I love—music.” He said, “I get it.”

I dropped out of college and joined the band. In 1970, I was introduced to Jim Messina, who had been in Buffalo Springfield and Poco, and was a producer at Columbia Records.

The following year, when we finished working on my first album for the label, we called it “Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In.” Then we became Loggins & Messina.

Today, I live near Santa Barbara. I moved into my current house five years ago. It’s on an acre and a half, and I love that it’s quiet and surrounded by trees.

In 1979, my father needed an operation to clear arterial blockage. He said he was prepared to die. Upset that he wasn’t fighting, I went to singer-pianist Michael McDonald’s house and wrote lyrics to a song we called “This Is It.”

The next day, after Dad’s operation, I brought the tape to the hospital. When I played him the song, it included the line, “For once in your life / Here’s your miracle / Stand up and fight.” I feared he might be offended. Instead, we had a good cry.

Kenny’s Realm

House view? If you stand in the right spot, you can see the Pacific.

Coolest new thing? Rockit, my new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Words or music? I almost always write the music to songs first, then the lyrics.

King of yacht rock? Actually, Michael McDonald and I probably share that title.

Not offended? Not at all. King is a pretty good title.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page