James Melvin Messina is an American musician, songwriter, singer, guitarist, recording engineer and record producer. He was a member of the folk rock group Buffalo Springfield, a founding member of the country rock pioneer Poco, and half of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina with Kenny Loggins.
When he was 16 years old, he recorded an LP with "His Jesters" titled The Dragsters, which was released in November 1964. One notable track was "The Jester", on which he played lead guitar; it was included on the 2003 CD Lost Legends of Surf Guitar Volume 1.
After Buffalo Springfield disbanded, Messina and Richie Furay, a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, formed Poco in 1968. Switching back from bass to guitar, 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 due to exhaustion from touring and to focus on becoming a record producer.
In 1979, Messina met with Don Ellis of Columbia Records subsidiary A&R to plan his first solo album. He learned that Ellis did not like Messina's new musical direction, towards latin jazz with a rock edge, because it did not sound like a Loggins and Messina album. Messina toured to support the debut LP, which sold 150,000 copies, about the same sales as Sittin' In had had. However, without the support of the record company, the album stalled, peaking at #58 on the Billboard 200, and Messina asked Columbia Records president Bruce Lundvall for a release from the label. Its single, New And Different Way, slightly missed the Top 40 on the AC chart, peaking at #43.
In 1981, Messina signed with Warner Bros. Records and recorded and released his second solo effort, Messina, which included folk, rock, latin and light jazz elements. The album featured singer Pauline Wilson, who sang a duet with Messina on "Stay the Night".
In 1983, Messina released his third solo album with Warner Bros., One More Mile. The album leaned more toward rock, and Messina used a number of young and upcoming studio musicians as his rhythm section. The album also featured Edie Laymen and Pauline Wilson singing background and harmony parts. On the song "The Island", he shows his influence of slack key, a Hawaiian style of playing the guitar.
In 1989, Poco's original lineup (consisting of Messina, Richie Furay, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner) regrouped for a successful reunion tour. That same year, they released the album Legacy. Messina played guitar and mandolin on the album. He wrote and sang on three of the songs: "Follow Your Dreams", "Look Within" and "Lovin' You Every Minute." He also co-wrote the song "Call It Love", which was sung by Rusty Young.
In 2005, Messina and Loggins hit the road as a duo again. They had a successful nationwide tour that produced a CD and DVD entitled Live: Sittin' In Again at the Santa Barbara Bowl Messina also pulled from the vaults the original master analog recordings that he had produced and mixed for Loggins and Messina at Columbia Records, which were released as the 2005 digitally mastered compilation album The Best: Sittin' in Again.
The duo reformed again in 2009 for an extensive tour.
In 2009, Messina released the CD Under a Mojito Moon-Part 1, on which the only guitar he played was his flamenco guitar. The Latin-based arrangements feature trumpet, percussion, drums, piano and nylon acoustic guitar in melodies reminiscent of the music of Cuba and Spain.
In 2012, Messina released the CD and DVD Jim Messina LIVE at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts containing songs by The Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins & Messina as well as his solo material.
He continues to work in the field of publishing, production and electronics as a recording and mixing engineer and as a recording studio owner.
He is both the creator and facilitator of "The Songwriters' Performance Workshop", wherein he leads 6-day intensive workshops for songwriters and singers at retreats, resorts and hotels around the country.
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