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Technically, the country rock band Poco qualifies as one of the genre's most enduring outfits, forming in 1968 and not disbanding till 16 years later (later reunions notwithstanding). But the revolving personnel door was always in full swing, and while never abandoning the original vision, the band essentially featured numerous ongoing incarnations.

Poco had its roots in the dying embers of the Buffalo Springfield. With Stephen Stills and Neil Young off with David Crosby and Graham Nash, remaining guitarist/singer-songwriter Richie Furay (who played in Au Go Go Singers with Stills) and Jim Messina formed the new band with Rusty Young and George Grantham (from the Colorado band Boenzee Cryque). The band's original name, Pogo, came from the popular comic strip character created by Walt Kelly. Kelly's copyright lawsuit over the moniker led to the one letter change.  

Future Eagle Randy Meisner played bass on Poco's 1969 debut Pickin' Up The Pieces, but soon left for Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band. He was replaced in Poco by Timothy B. Schmit, another future Eagle, a member of Sacramento band, Glad. The follow up album, Poco, featured an entire side consisting of a Latin-styled, mainly instrumental suite, "El Tonto De Nadie Regresa". On this track, Rusty Young pushed the capabilities of pedal steel to its limit with an outstanding performance, and justifiably became one of America's top players.

In 1970, Messina left after three albums, to form Loggins and Messina with Kenny Loggins. He was replaced by Paul Cotton, who had played with Illinois Speed Press, The Rovin' Kind and The Mus-Twang. Another strong collection, Crazy Eyes, included another Furay classic, the 10-minute title track. Richie was finally lured away by a lucrative offer to join a planned supergroup, Souther-Hillman-Furay, with Chris Hillman and J.D. Souther.

Poco persevered, still producing fine albums but with moderate sales. During the mid-70s the stable line-up of Cotton, Schmit, Grantham and Young released three popular albums, Head Over Heels, Rose Of Cimarron, Indian Summer and the lesser-known, but nonetheless strong Cantamos. Unfortunately, however, the band had a hard time reaching the U.S. Top 40, and Schmit jumped ship to join the Eagles after the sudden departure of Randy Meisner in 1978.

Grantham's departure shortly thereafter led to the addition of new members, bassist Charlie Harrison, drummer Steve Chapman and keyboardist Kim Bullard, and the band scored its first Top 20 album with the platinum selling Legend in 1978.  

This new line-up made four more albums in the early 80s, but these met with less success. Furay, Grantham and Schmit gathered to record contract-fulfilling Inamorata in 1984, but despite fan interest in the reunion, the album sold poorly. Poco officially disbanded that year, but five years later, rumors began circulating and Furay, Messina, Meisner, Grantham and Young returned with Legacy, one of their biggest albums ever, featuring the hit "Call It Love," penned by former Burrito Gib Gilbeau's son, Ronnie Gilbeau.

In 2000, another tour was arranged, with a line up comprising Cotton, Young, Grantham and Jack Sundrad.  In 2002, the band released a new, strong album, Running Horse, available through their website, and continues to tour.

© 2004