Born in Maywood, California, James Melvin Messina was a member of Buffalo Springfield, then the country rock band Poco, before he joined with Kenny Loggins to form the soft rock duo, Loggins and Messina.
While with Buffalo Springfield, he served as a recording engineer, producer, and eventually as a bass player - replacing Bruce Palmer - on their last album.
Messina and Richie Furay, another Buffalo Springfield member, formed Poco after Buffalo Springfield broke up. Messina played lead guitar and supplied vocals and some songwriting to the band. After recording two studio albums and one live album, he left Poco.
After Poco, Messina signed a contract with Columbia Records, as an independent producer. Messina was first introduced to the idea of producing Kenny Loggins in the summer of 1970 while still performing on the road with Poco.
Loggins first met with Messina in December 1970 at Messina's home, where the two recorded a number of Loggins' compositions in Messina's living room. Loggins, at the time, was a songwriter for ABC Dunhill and not a performing artist. The songs he presented for his album leaned more toward folk music, a style Messina felt might hinder his appeal.
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In the course of deciding how to produce Loggins' first solo album, Messina met with Clive Davis, then president of Columbia Records. Messina felt Loggins needed some kind of an edge. Messina suggested Davis consider letting Messina sit in on Loggins' first solo album in the same way that jazz artists had done in the past. Loggins also needed more upbeat and diverse material to help him gain appeal as a pop music artist. Clive reluctantly agreed, and supported Messina's "Sitting In" concept, to the end.
Messina presented a number of songs to Loggins that spilled over from his days with Poco and Buffalo Springfield that leaned towards country rock and R&B. Messina felt Loggins could do both styles extremely well, especially after hearing Kenny perform "Danny's Song." Given Messina's songs' appeal to audiences, Messina felt they were a natural for the Loggins project.
Messina contributed compositions to the album such as "Listen to a Country Song" "Nobody But You" "Same Old Wine" and "The Trilogy" which included "Peace of Mind." Messina worked long hours with Loggins and encouraged him to purchase an electric guitar and play it on his solo debut album.
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Messina assembled the "The Kenny Loggins Band" by summoning old friends like drummer Merel Bregante and bassist/singer Larry Sims, both formally of the Sunshine Company, horn and viola player Al Garth.
Kenny Loggins' first solo Album entitled, Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin' In was completed and made its debut in November 1971. Together with the band Messina had assembled they toured and sold over 20 million albums by the end of 1976.
After the album's release Messina wrote, performed and produced seven more albums with Loggins.
In 1976, the duo split: Loggins wanted to strike out on his own. Both went on to do solo careers. While Messina made a number of albums that did not make much of a splash, Loggins' solo career took off.
In 1989 Messina joined with the Poco's original lineup, consisting of Jim Messina, Richie Furay, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner for a successful reunion tour.
In 2005, Messina joined Loggins and together they hit the road as a duo again. The result was a successful nationwide tour that produced a CD and DVD entitled Loggins and Messina" Live - Sittin' in Again at Santa Barbara Bowl. The duo reformed again in 2009 for an extensive tour.
Jim Messina released a CD entitled Under a Mojito Moon, containing works recorded on his Flamenco guitar with sounds reminiscent of Spain and Cuba.
Messina still performs and continues to make records as a solo artist.