Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

Paul Fitzpatrick: December 2022

In 1974 Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was at the Knebworth Festival playing with the Doobie Brothers, on a bill that featured the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Van Morrison and The Allman Bothers.

A founding member of Steely Dan, Baxter loved being on stage but due to Steely Dan’s reluctance to tour he found himself with enough free time to tour and record with the Doobies as well as Linda Ronstadt that year.

When he informed the Doobies at Knebworth that he was about to quit Steely Dan as they wanted to inhabit the studio rather than play live, they said “great you’re a Doobie now“.
Baxter accepted their offer and promptly introduced his mate Michael McDonald to the band to create Doobies 2.0.

Baxter’s playing on the first three Steely Dan albums is pretty special and there are multiple highlights, with his solos on the track “My Old School” being a big favourite of the ‘Dan Loyal’

Baxter would go on to play on six Doobie Brothers albums as well as various sessions for Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Todd Rundgren.

A keen collaborator, Baxter has also toured and played live with Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Elton John and is renowned for his virtuoso plating as well as his pedal steel guitar, skills.

Baxter was a ‘studio rat’ for much of the 80s playing on numerous sessions including the guitar solo on Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” before forming a short lived super-group called The Best, with Joe Walsh, John Entwhistle and Keith Emmerson.

The Best play “Reeling in The Years”

The talented Mr Baxter also carved out a second career as a military advisor working with the US Government’s Missile Defense Agency and in 2005 was invited to join NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

After dabbling with politics, Skunk has rediscovered his love for music and has released a new album supported by a US tour.

Some Skunk highlights on the playlist below…..

3 thoughts on “Jeff “Skunk” Baxter”

  1. a great talent for sure and one of the surprising bridges between Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. Glad he is back to music, I didn’t know that. I’ve written about him before and it blew me away that he’d gone into being a defense consultant or something like that, as you said, for the military. Talk about a weird career turn!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Total education for me! Never heard of the geezer – though aware of the music he played on obviously. And I must have been on holiday when The Best were around! I really must pay more attention! 😉

    Some CV though – well impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

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