The Washington, D.C.-born Baxter worked his way up the East Coast in the 1960s, with a brief (possibly apocryphal) stint in New York in Jimi Hendrix’s Greenwich Village-circa ‘66 pre-Experience band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, and Boston working at Jack’s Drum Shop on Boylston Street. After enrolling at Boston University, Baxter fell in with the Bosstown Sound acts of the time, eventually joining Ultimate Spinach in 1968 for their third and final album, 1969’s III.
After a move to the sunnier climes of California, Baxter secured his musical legacy in the 1970s, spending the first half of the decade with Steely Dan (which he co-founded and played guitar on their first three records), and the latter half with the Doobie Brothers — propelling the latter band to its greatest chart successes when he brought singer Michael McDonald, a session singer for Steely Dan, into the fold.
Baxter left the Doobies in 1979, but has continued as an in-demand session and touring musician for a wide range of artists, including Eric Clapton, Gene Clark, Carly Simon, and Donna Summer; music producer (including albums for Nazareth, Nils Lofgren, Carl Wilson and Livingston Taylor); television/film composer; and design consultant for Gibson and Epiphone Guitars, Akai, Roland, and Audio Technica. In the unlikeliest part of his bio, he also found time to become a self-taught missile defense systems expert, and has subsequently served as a defense consultant to the United States government and defense-oriented manufacturers.
(by Stephen Haag and Dean Johnson)