Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter Says The Rolling Stones And Yardbirds Did American Musicians A Huge Favor


During a recent interview with Guitar World, former Steely Dan guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter stated that bands like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds have immensely helped American music return to its roots.

Both the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds greatly contributed to British bands’ massive influence on United States’ rock scene during the mid-1960s, a period also known as The British Invasion. While the Beatles led the way, several British invasion acts refreshed American music with their signature sound and helped rock and roll develop the look and sound as we know it today.

While discussing his views on British music during a recent conversation, Jeff Baxter said he finds it very interesting since it is open to interaction with many other music forms. Then, by referring to some notable British artists like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Hank Marvin, the guitarist expressed that they all listened to American music, from which they took some elements and incorporated them into their own sound.

Moreover, Baxter recalled an old conversation with the famous American singer Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis criticized the period of American music when names like Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton, and Bobby Vee, along with many others, led the scene as teen idols during the early 1960s. The ‘Great Balls of Fire’ singer thought those names were not much interested in the quality of music. According to Jeff Baxter, the appearance of the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds on the scene revived American music by making it remember its rhythm and blues roots, which he finds really valuable.

Jeff Baxter’s thoughts on the impact of British sound on the American music scene:

“I think British music is interesting. As they say, the child is the father to the man. Those guys – Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton and even Hank Marvin, who I have tremendous respect for – were students. They were listening to American music in many varied forms and synthesizing that into their own playing.

I remember Jerry Lee Lewis telling me this one time, ‘Y’know, there was this terrible time in American music.’ He called it ‘The Bobbys’ – with Bobby Rydell, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. He said, ‘It was all going to hell.’ I understood what he was talking about; he meant that pop music was getting a little too pop and a little less music.

And the Brits turned around and said, ‘Hold on, have you ever heard of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Muddy Waters?’ The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and all these bands said, ‘Hey, let us reintroduce you to your roots.’ I think they did American musicians a huge favor.”

Early rock and roll artists, blues, R&B, country, and even folk were also influential on the British Invasion acts to form their own sound. Nearly every band from the Invasion paid homage to American music by including many songs from it in their live performances.