Jeff Baxter: A Look into the Life of a Guitar Legend

All of us striving blues guitar enthusiasts are lucky to have legends of music to inspire us into continuing to practice. No matter how deep you’ve gotten yourself into a rut, listening to a breathtaking solo performance by a legend of blues and hearing how that person creates such soul-hauntingly music with only a guitar and a few strings is always a nice restart. After recharging your batteries with such a fine example of what can be done with a guitar, your enthusiasm for learning to play may be renewed. This is the reason we’re also presenting to you today an extended piece on Jeff Baxter: a look into the life of a guitar legend may just do the trick if you feel you’re a bit stuck in your guitar practicing.


Jeff Baxter was born on December the 13th 1948 in Washington, D.C and his teens found him working at Manny’s Music Shop in Manhattan. It was there where he first met the also soon-to-be guitar legend Jimmy Hendrix, in 1966, and their collaboration began. Hendrix invited Jeff Baxter to play in the band he was leading at the time, called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, where the latter spent a little less than a year. The next few years were divided between working as a guitar tech and an amplifier repair man at another music shop and attending the School of Public Communication (Boston), in order to become a journalist. While training for a career as a journalist, Jeff Baxter never stopped playing in the various local bands he managed to get invited by. The lesson one can derive from this is that even though you don’t bet put all your eggs in one basket and even though it’s wise to pursue an alternative career path as well, one should never quit practicing and pursuing his or her passion with blues guitar playing.

Jeff Baxter then became more known for the first time two years from his initial encounter with Hendrix, in 1968, while playing as a member of the psychedelic rock band Ultimate Spinach, having joined them for their third and final album. After the band break-up, Jeff Baxter continued on his way to become a guitar legend by moving to Los Angeles and finding work as a session guitarist. It was there that he also founded his first band, Steely Dan, with which he later rose to fame. The collaboration lasted for three fortuitous albums, the third being Pretzel Logic, that still enjoys a cult status among guitar enthusiasts. After finishing the work on this album, it was time to move on again: Jeff Baxter joined the Doobie Brothers and continued to work his way to becoming a guitar legend.

With the Doobie Brothers, the now experienced guitarist improved his style, became more well-known and imprinted the band’s sound with a jazzier feel. The collaboration lasted until 1979, but his career didn’t end with it. While playing within all these bands mentioned, Jeff Baxter also continued to accept studio work and made a name for himself in that department as well. He continues to accept studio work and he has been a session guitarist for a variety of great artists over the years. We won’t see this guitar legend retiring any time soon, judging by his awesome skill and stamina.

Although it may not seem like it, the difference between what a guitar legend can accomplish and what you can do isn’t actually that great. It’s all a matter of patience and an incredible amount of practice (ok, maybe it’s also about a few well-timed opportunities). The point is: you too probably have what it takes to play like a blues guitar legend, if you give it enough dedication. Enjoy and good luck.

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