During the 1960s, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was delivering amps to a session in New York City when one of the guitarists didn’t arrive. He grabbed a guitar and thus, at age 16, began a recording career ongoing today. After stints with Tim Buckley, The Holy Modal Rounders, and Ultimate Spinach, he became a founding member of Steely Dan in 1972, gaining notoriety on such legendary tracks as “Do It Again,” “My Old School,” and “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number.” He joined the Doobie Brothers in 1974, later bringing Michael McDonald to the band and performing on songs like “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “Take Me In Your Arms,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” and “What a Fool Believes.”
Throughout the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, Jeff toured with Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, The Stray Cats, and Elton John. At the same time, he continued high-level session work on projects with Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Freddie Hubbard, John Cougar Mellencamp, Cher, and numerous other greats. Jeff has also composed and performed numerous movie and TV soundtracks, and has produced albums for the likes of Carl Wilson, Billy & The Beaters, Nazareth, and the Stray Cats, earning numerous Gold and Platinum albums and two GRAMMYs in the process. Most recently, he contributed guitar work to That’s Why God Made the Radio by The Beach Boys. Jeff has been with Roland Corporation for over 40 years, involved with design work and consulting on guitar synthesizers and other guitar-related projects.
I go back to the beginning with the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amplifier. I met with Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi in 1975 and he presented the amp to me. Never before had I heard such clean tones at low and very high volumes. The JC-120 does an incredible job of reproducing whatever signal and sounds are plugged into it. I need an amp I can use for clean tones, fat tones, pedal steel guitar, and acoustic guitar. I have even bussed background vocals from a recording console through the JC-120 in the stereo chorus mode, with a mic on each speaker and back to the console—beautiful!
I have used the JC-120 on such songs at Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and Donna Summers’ “Hot Stuff,” and on recording projects with Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, and the TV series King of the Hill, to name just a few examples. I use it on virtually every live gig I do, from rock shows to classical guitar at the Kennedy Center with a choir and orchestra. Reliable, solid, sweet, and versatile, it is my go-to amp of choice. Very few guitar amplifiers are referred to as “iconic,” and the Roland JC-120 fits that description perfectly.
Congratulations to Roland as they celebrate 40 years of the JC-120 Jazz Chorus guitar amp. Here’s to another 40 years!
— Jeff “Skunk” Baxter