Best of 2022: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s Coda: A Doobie Brother Focuses on Counter Terrorism


At the beginning of each year, we at Second Act Stories like to take a look back at the incredible interviews we shared and pick one episode that truly exemplifies the surprising, inspiring and eye-opening nature of a fascinating career change.

This “Best of” show gives us an opportunity to re-share a remarkable story, and it welcomes new listeners by giving them a good taste of what we do here: profile people who have made major life and career changes to pursue a more rewarding life in a second act career.

The numbers spoke for themselves this year. Without question, the episode our listeners downloaded the most was our interview with rock and roll legend Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

Skunk was the founding lead guitarist in Steely Dan, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Doobie Brothers. As a hired gun, he’s played with a who’s who of music royalty, including Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon… the list goes on and on.

From the time he was a child, the mechanically inclined Baxter loved taking things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together. He became an expert guitar repair technician and built custom guitars. He traded a custom white Fender Stratocaster he built in the 1960s to Jimi James, who would later re-emerge as the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

In the 1980s, Skunk parlayed his more-than-casual interest in all things technical into a career as a missile defense consultant. After writing a paper that was quickly classified, he received the necessary clearances and now regularly consults with the U.S. government, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs on topics including counterterrorism and wargaming.

Skunk recently released a new solo album, his first, called Speed of Heat.

We hope you enjoy this encore presentation – the Best of 2022 episode of Second Act Stories – our exciting deep dive into the second act of one of rock’s greatest guitarists.

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