Tell me how you came to meet Jimmy James, whom we all know as Jimi Hendrix. You actually played a gig with him, right?
A gentleman came in with a beat-up Fender Duo-Sonic. He wanted to upgrade the instrument or get a nicer guitar. I had already customized a Fender Stratocaster for a left-handed player who wanted to play righty; I made some changes to the vibrato arm and a few other small things.
He said, 'What the hell was that? One day after that, Jimmy James came back to the store and invited me to come down to a club to see him play. We became friends — not deep, deep friends, but friends enough. We had some interesting conversations from then on. He was very kind and complimented my playing. Of course I loved his playing. We had that in common. But when Chas Chandler came into the club to listen to him play, I did see the kind of audience Jimi had and response he got.
You knew there was something there. Randy California was in the band, and he was a friend as well. A few years later, you moved to California. Was it your idea to pursue the session scene? At the same time I found a job at Valley Sound, which was a place that repaired guitars and amplifiers.
They hired me right away because they were looking for a guitar repair guy. I met all the great players. Pretty soon we put Steely Dan together. I was doing sessions in New York and Boston at the time. I really like it. As we began to progress, and obviously as the band became more successful, Becker and Fagen wanted to take more and more creative control.
By that time I was already playing with the Doobie Brothers, as well. Did they direct you, or could you play what you wanted? As far as those two solos were concerned, it was pretty much that way because there was no real idea in their heads of what they wanted.
That was one instrument that I used. The other was a Stratocaster I had built myself out of curly maple. I just assembled it, wired it up, plugged it in, and there it was. And I use a special gauge of wire that works for me. The more you can stimulate the magnetic field, the more tonality and harmonic resonance you can get out of it.
When you joined the Doobie Brothers, you were paired with their guitarist, Patrick Simmons. Did you develop a good relationship as players? I think we had very complementary styles, and my style of guitar playing — having had a lot of experience in the studio and being sort of eclectic — complemented both his playing and his sense of composition.
Patrick and I worked well together. We became friends and loved playing together. The musical direction of the band changed radically once Michael McDonald joined in You were the one who actually brought Michael in, right? I had been in the band for about a year, maybe more. Tom Johnston, who was one of the lead singers, was having some severe health problems at the point.
You want to join the Doobie Brothers? We rehearsed eight hours a day for about eight days. Then we went out to play and got five encores. I thought, I made the right decision. Michael contributed keyboard playing, but he began to compose as well — and did a hell of a job. There was no real telling where the band was going. One thing I did want to create was the opportunity for the band to develop as players.
That guy is ferocious. I mean, talk about melodic. And Pat Simmons is a great guitar player — nobody does it better. Keith Knudsen is a great drummer and a tremendous human being.
For my part, I wanted people to get in a particular head space, to move into an area where the approach to music was a little tighter, a little bit more in the Steely Dan genre. Not the Steely Dan mindset, but the mindset of looking at your playing from a little more of a disciplined perspective.
With success comes different perspectives from different members of the band. I kind of could see where this was going, and I felt that it was the right time. I talked to a couple of friends whose advice I trusted. I was already a session player. Steve Lukather and I both joked that we were the only first-call session guitar players who were in famous bands. I consider myself a change agent. Between sessions and production work, you carved out a career for yourself as a national security consultant.
Paul came to me some years ago and said, 'I have an idea for an underwater acoustic detection system. Let me show it to you. He also played with singer-songwriters Tim Buckley and Linda Hoover. In , he left Steely Dan and joined the Doobie Brothers, remaining in the band until The predominantly instrumental album, which confirms Baxter has kept his six-string chops well honed, features such high-profile guest singers as Clint Black, Jonny Lang and former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald.
That Baxter only recently completed the solo album he started making 33 years ago reflects how busy he continues to be in his entirely unplanned day job working for the U.
While helping a Los Angeles neighbor dig out from a mudslide in the late s, Baxter learned the neighbor, George Webb, was a retired engineer who had helped design the Sidewinder missile for the U.
A self-described autodidact, Baxter read both publications avidly and took a deep, years-long dive into almost all things defense-related. As the music industry began to transition from analog to digital recording technologies, he realized the data-compression algorithms and large-capacity storage devices the military was using in its hardware and software had practical applications for recording music. This led him, intriguingly, to write a paper in which he posited that the U.
He passed his missile-defense paper on to a friend, now-retired Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who in turn gave the paper to fellow Republican Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania. Various military consulting contracts followed. The Pentagon then asked Baxter to lead enemy forces in war games. Navy from the key oil-shipping routes through the Persian Gulf. But he parsed his words carefully when asked if he had been a hippie or part of the counterculture in the late s and early s.
Certainly, Boston was a college town full of youthful exuberance and hopeful, open-minded folks who — for whatever reason — felt that the culture they had grow up in was perhaps flawed in certain ways. He brought me up with a sense of patriotism, so I was not anti-military, which probably separated me a bit from some of my contemporaries.
Baxter still has fun playing music. But he readily acknowledges his worldview is informed by his day job, which he stressed is decidedly apolitical. I do it because I took an oath and believe in my country, the principles of democracy and the system we have, flawed as it is. I found him to be very quiet and polite.
He cared about his country and he was a wonderful guitar player. He changed all of us. Musicians that really work together, travel together and basically exist together have a certain magical something that supersedes just two musicians, or a group of musicians, playing together.
Rehearsals were weeks-long, intense and focused on achieving at the highest level. It was like the U. Army, being the best that you could be. There was no casualness about it; there was a real dedication.
Online: bellyup. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Lea Slusher and her beau. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which returns April and April , is the first edition headlined entirely by nonwhite artists. Inflation, supply chain backups and the pandemic were factors. Drum great McCurdy, 86, is still playing up a storm. King and many more. Yvette Freeman Hartley directs this s blues music revue, which takes place at a rundown hotel in Chicago in the late s and early s.
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|Humane society kitten||Baxter first reached a wide rock audience in as a member of the psychedelic rock band Ultimate Spinach. He wanted to upgrade the instrument or get a nicer guitar. The Coachella Valley Music and Politcs Festival, which returns April and Aprilis the first edition headlined entirely by continue reading artists. In earlyBaxter and co-founding drummer John Hartman left the band. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.|
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