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Skunk Baxter Expands Musical Horizons with Debut Solo Album ‘Speed of Heat’

Guitarist Jeff Baxter performs on stage during the 31st Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards at the Anaheim Hilton on January 23, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
(Image credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is perhaps best known as a founding member of Steely Dan, featuring on the band’s first three albums – Can't Buy a Thrill (opens in new tab), Countdown to Ecstasy (opens in new tab)and Pretzel Logic (opens in new tab), released in 1972, ’73 and ’74, respectively.

A session player of notable merit, Baxter also appeared on various Doobie Brothers recordings during the early ‘70s, eventually becoming a full-time member of the group when he parted ways with Steely Dan in ’74.  He remained with the Doobie Brothers until the late ‘70s.

Baxter’s enviable list of session credits includes Eric Clapton, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart and many more besides. One of the most in-demand guitarists of his generation, he appeared on some truly iconic songs of the era such as Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.”

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter 'Speed of Heat' album artwork

(Image credit: BMG/Renew Records)

Considering Baxter’s expansive studio career thus far, you may be surprised to hear that the guitarist is finally releasing an album of his own. Scheduled to arrive on June 17, Speed of Heat (BMG/Renew Records) comprises 12 tracks including originals co-written by Baxter and his musical partner, CJ Vanston.

The album’s second single – “Bad Move” – features country superstar Clint Black on vocals. Co-written by Baxter, Vanston and Black the track includes a stonking electric guitar and organ duke-out while Black’s vocal performance is praiseworthy.

“Clint really outdid himself on this song,” commented Baxter. “I played it for his wife [singer-actress Lisa Hartman Black], and when she heard it, she jokingly asked me, ‘Who is that?’ I said, ‘That’s your husband. He is a really amazing and multi-faceted musician.’”

Take a listen here…

Order Speed of Heat here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.