Poco

  • Country rock band formed in 1968 from Los Angeles California. There were many members over the years – over twenty – but the members during their most successful years in the late 70s were Rusty Young (founding member, steel and rhythm guitar, banjo, dobro, vocals, songwriting), Paul Cotton (lead guitar, vocals, songwriting), Charlie Harrison (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Steve Chapman (drums). Young remained with the group until his death in 2021.
  • In 1968, the rock band Buffalo Springfield split up. Richie Furay was one of the lead singers (along with Stephen Stills and Neil Young), and he recorded a country ballad that year, with the help of steel guitarist Rusty Young and Buffalo Springfield bassist Jim Messina. They were pleased with the song, and they decided to form a band that had a country-rock sound. Messina moved to lead guitar, and they recruited Randy Meisner for bass guitar/vocals and George Grantham for drums/vocals. They originally named themselves Pogo, after the popular comic strip character, but they changed the name to Poco when Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, threatened to sue.
  • They were signed to a recording contract, and in 1969 they released their debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. Before the recording of the album was finished, Meisner left the group due to conflicts with Furay – Meisner went on to be a founding member of the Eagles. The album received high praise from the critics and it was lauded as a pioneering album in the country rock genre, but it only reached #63 on the Billboard album chart. Soon after the album’s release, Timothy B. Schmidt joined Poco on bass guitar and vocals.
  • In 1970, their second album, the self-titled Poco, also had low sales. Its only single, You Better Think Twice, peaked at #72 on the Hot 100 chart. Messina quit the group after the album was released, feeling that Furay had too much control (Messina went on to success with Kenny Loggins, producing many hits as Loggins & Messina). Paul Cotton replaced Messina and would remain with the band for many years.
  • Three albums were released with this line-up from 1971 to 1973, but none of them were successful. Furay was frustrated with the lack of success of Poco (especially since former bandmates from Buffalo Springfield and Poco were so successful), so Furay left Poco in 1973. Furay was not replaced, and Poco continued as a quartet.
  • Five studio albums released after Furay’s departure continued to underachieve. Only two singles managed to reach #50 on the Hot 100 – Keep On Tryin and Indian Summer – with both charting slightly higher on the Adult Contemporary chart. Schmidt quit the band in August 1977 to join the Eagles (replacing Meisner again). After Schmidt left, Young and Cotton continued as the Cotton-Young Band, recording an album with session musicians Steve Chapman on drums and Charlie Harrison on bass. The record company agreed to release it, but only if it was released as a Poco album. It was released in 1978 – their Legend album became their breakthrough. It included their two biggest hits. Crazy Love reached #17 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it remained for seven weeks. Heart of the Night peaked at #20 on the Hot 100 and at #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • Poco couldn’t maintain its success. Five albums released from 1980 to 1984 sold poorly. Only one single, Shoot For the Moon, had some chart success, reaching #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Line-up changes became prevalent by 1984, with Cotton and Young the only constants. For several years, Poco toured in small clubs as they attempted to land a recording contract. They were picked up by a label in 1989, and the five original members of Furay, Messina, Young, Meisner and Grantham released the Legacy album (Schmidt and Cotton declined to participate). Legacy was a moderate success – Call It Love and Nothin’ to Hide both cracked the top 40 of the Hot 100, with the former peaking at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • During the 90s, no albums were released and the band toured with various lineups on a limited basis, with Young leading the group and Cotton occasionally joining for shows. Albums were released in 2002 and 2013, and touring continued throughout these years. At the end of 2013, Young announced his retirement. Poco performed occasional dates with appearances by Young in the years following. When Young died of a heart attack in 2021, that was the end of Poco. Cotton died three months after his bandmate Young died.
  • Poco was a hard working band that just couldn’t put together a string of hits. Their legacy is with their early country rock sound – which became a 70s standard with the Eagles. Love country harmony? Listen to Crazy Love.

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