Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter on recutting his classics, mad-scientist modding and hustling Guitar Center for parts in the ‘70s

Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter
(Image credit: Jimmy Steinfelt)

Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter had a good 70s. Part rockstar, mustachioed and toting a self-modded Fender, his extraordinary playing helped two formidable yet contrasting bands, Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, to their best work in that halcyon decade.

But Baxter’s obituary, when it is eventually written, will reference more than the effortless solo on Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. At 73, his session résumé is Lukather-long, spanning from Ringo Starr to Donna Summer, while his 360-degree curiosity has sparked sidelines both apt and unlikely: you’re as liable to find him co-designing a guitar synthesizer as advising the US Congress on missile defence.

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Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a talking head on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl and many more. As a guitarist with three decades' experience, he mostly plays a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul.