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Kenny Loggins Makes 75 Look Cooler Than Ever: Here’s Why

As he heads into his farewell tour this summer, the singer-songwriter gets real with AARP about new love, life on the road and being a yacht-rock icon

spinner image kenny loggins performing on stage at the namm show twenty twenty at the anaheim convention center january seventeenth twenty twenty
Musician Kenny Loggins performs on stage.
Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

Just as Top Gun: Maverick pushed his soundtrack tune “Danger Zone” back into red-line overload, Kenny Loggins decided to cool his jets.​

The blockbuster sequel thrilled Loggins but didn’t deter him from plotting a farewell tour, appropriately titled “This Is It,” which kicks off this month. Loggins will be on the road most of the year with a show that’s roughly 60 minutes of hits and 45 minutes of deep cuts. It caps 51 years since he first found fame with harmony-driven duo Loggins and Messina, before going solo in 1977 and striking gold with such hits as “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ ” and “This Is It.” ​

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He was crowned the soundtrack king after “Footloose,” “Danger Zone,” “I’m Alright” (Caddyshack) and “Nobody’s Fool” (Caddyshack II). His legacy secure, the twice-divorced Loggins tells AARP about his happy home life, yacht-rock past, semiretirement plans and the secret to singing better at 75 than he did in his 30s.

Was getting off the road a tough decision?

​It’s a good time to call it quits. Lisa [Hawkins, his girlfriend] and I have been together five years. I want to put more time into that — and not lose that. And spend more time with my grandchildren. The road gets more difficult every year. I decided, let’s go out on top rather than wait until someone says, “Kenny, you should get out of the way.”

What was your reaction to the resurrection of “Danger Zone” in Top Gun: Maverick?

​Here we go again! It’s fun to have another shot at the brass ring. The staying power is interesting. When I finally met Tom Cruise in 2017, I said, “What do you think? Is ‘Danger Zone’ going to be part of the next Top Gun?” He said, “It wouldn’t be Top Gun without ‘Danger Zone.’ ’’ I’d be shocked to see a Top Gun III without “Danger Zone.”

You recorded an updated version. Why did Cruise reject it?

​He just felt that the original conjures all the magic of the first movie and that the right way to start the movie was to bring that vibe back so you feel you’re where you left off. The new recording is basically the same song, just a little more cinematic, with 5.1 surround sound. He wanted to stick to the original stereo.

spinner image kenny loggins of loggins and messina in concert march twenty second nineteen seventy four
Kenny Loggins performs in a concert.
ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

How’d you end up with so much music in the Caddyshack movies? 

In 1976, my first solo single, “I Believe in Love,” was used in A Star is Born, starring Barbra Streisand. The producer, Jon Peters, was Barbra’s boyfriend. After they broke up, he called me for Caddyshack. I thought the movie was hilarious. I ended up having four pieces in it.

Is it more confining to write a song for a movie?​

In a way, yes, but it also creates freedom. I can go in different directions, and it opens up lyrical possibilities because I’m not stuck writing about my own life. I can imagine myself as that character. “Footloose” was a dramatically different direction. When I was a kid, my big brother would play these soundtrack albums, like A Patch of Blue and King of Kings, and I was fascinated by the different characters’ theme songs.

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Since your heyday, CD sales have imploded and artists now rely on touring to stay afloat.​

It’s more difficult for a writer to make a living. The royalties aren’t there. Streaming has cut it down. The record companies made deals with the streamers to feather the nests of the labels, but the artists got left behind. We’re trying to get a bigger piece of the pie for songwriters. You have to be a worldwide artist to make a living from streaming.

Like Steely Dan, Hall & Oates and Seals & Crofts, you are considered the vanguard of the genre “yacht rock,” commercially successful, laid-back rock of the ’70s and ’80s. What’s your take?​

We just thought of it as pop or rock ’n’ roll. From Steely Dan on through, that sound was influenced by R&B and smooth jazz. I made my first solo record with some of the big New York jazz studio guys: Bob James, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd. It’s an interesting turn of events to have the music we were doing become a genre.

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Kenny Loggins is performing at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California in 1974.
Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Did you have reservations about revealing your personal life in your 2022 memoir, Still Alright?

​I wasn’t worried about opening up because my music is very autobiographical. I did have reservations because I wasn’t sure I could remember enough. My cowriter interviewed a lot of people from my past, and that helped my memories come back. What sets me apart from a lot of acts from my era is my willingness to be vulnerable and write about stuff that matters. The ups and downs of my life are not much different than anybody else. Marriages, divorces, kids. Love gained and lost.

What did you learn from raising five kids?

​Patience and humility. They will, whether on purpose or not, remind you that you’re not the king of the world. After all is said and done, fame is an empty bucket. It only lasts as long as you can capture the imagination of the populace. And then you’re gone. Unless maybe you’re Michael Jackson, and it didn’t serve him all that well either.

You did two well-received Hollywood Bowl shows last summer with Jim Messina. Will that lead to more?

​No. It feels like been there, done that. I don’t think either of us needs it. A one-time reminiscence is exactly what it was meant to be. A thank you to fans and to each other. I’m proud of what we did together.

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You can still reach high notes — how have you maintained your voice?

​When 2020 came and I wasn’t working all the time, which is the way to keep your voice strong, I noticed I was losing high notes. I realized I had a coach for pickleball and working out but not one for my voice. We started working together five days a week. I had to learn a new vocal technique. It took about six months to get my high notes back, and I have higher notes now than I had in my 30s. 

With work on hold, how did you spend time during the lockdown?

​I considered 2020 a rehearsal for retirement. Lisa and I were a fairly new couple. We bought ebikes and started tooling around town. I enjoyed not having to be anywhere at a certain time. For those of us who live with the clock as the dictator, it was nice to get off the clock, to be in love and be playful. She travels with me on the road. It’s much more relaxed than it used to be. I love it. I’m at a point where I’m not striving for a hit record. I’m just cruising.

Does the end of your farewell tour mark the beginning of semiretirement?

​Yes. I’m moving into mentorship, working with a company called Santa Barbara Records, helping talented artists write their songs and produce their records. It’s really fun. The refreshing thing about mentoring those teenagers is they actually listen to me and think I might have something to add.

What’s your philosophy about aging?

​Accept it. We have no choice. Fighting it is a hopeless case. As we get older, that need to climb the mountain subsides. At that point, you have to change your goals. Being present and staying creative is important.

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