Simple Stuff: Skunk and Joe

July 6, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

This post started out as a quest to find out who played the solo on Donna Summer’s disco hit “Hot Stuff,” and what the gear was. Turns out it was Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan, the Doobie Bros, must sit on a chair live and – as it applies to “Hot Stuff” – studio fame.

Much searching later, all I got was that Jeff used a $20 Burns Bison on the track – or a ’50s Danelectro. The Burns had more cites and Jeff says it’s one of his favorite guitars, but couldn’t tell if that was an “internet fact” or a real one.

No word on the amp used, but he did say in one interview that he preferred to plug straight into the board – that was his favorite tone (!).

He also said this in an interview about “Hot Stuff:”

I liked coming home [after touring] because I had zillions of chops, and I would start booking sessions a month before I got off the road. I’d be burnt, but boy, could I play and immediately make the transition into doing dates. “Hot Stuff” on Donna Summer’s Bad Girls album was one of those. When I did that I was burning, just came off the road. I did four guitar solos, eight rhythm parts, and two synthesizer parts in four hours. I had never heard the stuff before we did it. I loved every minute of it.

Here’s the tune. Solo starts at about 2:22. Suppose we should all remember how unusual it was at the time for a “rock”-like solo to be in a disco tune – or at least a Donna Summer disco tune.

On to Joe

Couldn’t find Jeff jamming it out with Donna anywhere on YouTube, but did see Jeff playing with Joe Walsh [not worth seeing]…which led me to this 1973 footage of Joe playing Rocky Mountain Way. Done for TV, maybe that’s why it sounds like a low-volume version, which makes it interesting.

Call me crazy, but it looks like he’s playing that Les Paul Custom straight into that Fender amp – anyone know or have any guesses which amp that is? Can’t tell. Regardless, in a fairly tame setting he still makes it sound Woody!

I like this version way better (can’t be embedded) – nastier, faster, longer. The concert with Joe playing through an Echoplex, a Sunn head, a talk box and who knows what else….

Category: Burns guitars, Fender, Jeff Skunk Baxter, Joe Walsh

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  1. Ian says:

    It was worth it suffering through a crap disco tune and hearing a so-so Baxter solo to see Richard Pryor introduce Joe and hearing a decent version RMW.

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