Craig Chaquico

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Craig Chaquico
Chaquico in 2016
Chaquico in 2016
Background information
Born (1954-09-26) September 26, 1954 (age 68)[1]
Sacramento, California, U.S.
GenresRock, pop, blues, new age, smooth jazz
Years active1971–present
LabelsRCA, Sony, BMG, Capitol, Grunt, Higher Octave, Blind Pig

Craig Clinton Chaquico (or Chaquiço, /əˈks/ chə-KEE-soh; born September 26, 1954[1]) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and composer. From 1974 to 1990 he was lead guitarist for the rock bands Jefferson Starship and Starship. In 1993, he started a solo career as an acoustic jazz guitarist and composer.

Early life[edit]

Chaquico was born and raised in Sacramento, California and attended La Sierra High School in the suburb of Carmichael.[2][3] His mother, Muriel, was a state government employee, and his father, Bill, owned an upholstery business.[2] Both were of Portuguese descent.[2] He had an older brother named Howard.[2] The household was a musical one; Chaquico recalls, "My mom and dad were musicians and played around the house all the time. I thought everybody played the piano and organ like Mom and the sax and accordion like Dad together after dinner."[4] He began playing the guitar as a young boy, when his parents bought him his first guitar at the age of ten.[5]

When Chaquico was twelve, the car he and his father were traveling in was hit head-on by a drunk driver.[6] Both of his arms were broken, as were his leg, ankle, foot, wrist, and thumb.[7] During physical therapy, his father told him that guitarist Les Paul had been in a car accident and had played guitar to help himself heal. His father promised to buy him a Les Paul guitar when he got better.[8] Although he could play only the high E string of his acoustic guitar due to his casts,[6] he benefited from playing and his father kept his word about the Les Paul.[2]


Chaquico with Jefferson Starship at KSAN95's Free Concert in Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco - June 1, 1979

Chaquico began performing in clubs in his teens.[9] His English teacher Jack Traylor asked him to join the band Steelwind, which performed in Sacramento and San Francisco Bay, and Traylor introduced him to Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.[2][7] Kantner invited him to a series of recording sessions.[2] At 16 he recorded for the first time with Kantner and Grace Slick on their albums Sunfighter[2][10] and Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun. He played on Slick's solo album Manhole in 1973. He played alongside Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, David Freiberg, and Carlos Santana.[10][11]

After Jefferson Airplane broke up, its remaining members formed Jefferson Starship. Chaquico joined the band in 1974. Jefferson Starship released nine platinum and gold selling albums between 1974 and 1984, including Red Octopus, which was certified double-platinum in 1995. He wrote or co-wrote "Fast Buck Freddy", "Love Too Good", "Rock Music", "Jane", "Find Your Way Back", and "Layin' It on the Line".[12]

Chaquico in 1981

The name "Jefferson Starship" was retired in March 1985 after Kantner left the band and sued the remaining members, who reformed under the name "Starship".[13] All other band members, including Chaquico, remained with the band.[14] Starship recorded hits such as "We Built This City", "Starship", and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now". Chaquico and Starship appeared on MTV videos on a regular basis and performed at the first MTV Spring Break special in Daytona Beach in 1986.[15] Chaquico left Starship in 1990.[16]

Having become disappointed with the direction Starship was going, Chaquico formed Big Bad Wolf and recorded one album in that band.[17] He began a solo career that explored world music, new age,[12] and contemporary jazz. His first album, Acoustic Highway (1993), was the number one Independent New Age Album of the Year in Billboard Magazine and a number one on the Billboard New Age Albums chart,[18][19] while his second album, Acoustic Planet (1994), reached number one on the same chart[20] and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Age Album.[17] The album borrowed from African and Native American music.[12] The song "Just One World" was launched into space on a satellite that was part of NASA's Space Ark program.[6][17]

In 2017 Chaquico filed suit against the remaining members of Jefferson Starship, including David Freiberg and Baldwin, over the use of the band name on tour billings and merchandise, citing the 1985 agreement to retire the band name.[21] In 2018 the suit was dismissed after an undisclosed settlement was reached.[22]


Chaquico's first guitar was a Winston acoustic which his mother bought for him when he was 10 years old after he'd given up his parents' idea that he would play an accordion.[23] He played a '57 Les Paul Goldtop on the first two Jefferson Starship albums and tours, Dragon Fly (1974) and Red Octopus (1975), on such songs as "Miracles".[7][24][25] He also soon added a rare '59 Les Paul Sunburst to his collection which he played on the next two albums, Spitfire (1976) and Earth (1978) and can be heard on such songs as "With Your Love", "Count on Me", and "Runaway".[25][26][27] Both Les Paul Guitars and the Bassman amps, along with several other valuable guitars, were stolen and/or destroyed in a riot in Lorelei, Germany, in 1978, when Grace Slick was unable to perform and the show was cancelled.[28][29][30] Into the '80s, Chaquico was sponsored by Carvin Guitars and often appeared on tour, in the studio and in guitar magazine ads playing a Carvin V220 or a Carvin koa doubleneck played through Carvin amplifiers, his favorite being the Carvin X100B.[31]


Chaquico at Renown Children's Hospital in Reno, Nevada, 2016

Chaquico became a believer in the healing power of music after recovering from a car crash when he was twelve.[5] With the National Association of Music Therapy, Beamz, Remo, and Washburn Guitars, he provided instruments to patients in hospitals.[6] He has worked with organizations such as the American Music Therapy Association and Memory and Music which use music therapy with injured and traumatized people and those with various forms of dementia.[32]

Awards and honors[edit]

Jazziz Magazine [fr] named him one of the 100 most influential jazz guitarists of all time.[33] He was named Best Pop Instrumental Guitarist in Guitar Player magazine's 1997 Readers' Poll.[34]


  • Acoustic Highway (Higher Octave, 1993)
  • Acoustic Planet (Higher Octave, 1994)
  • A Thousand Pictures (Higher Octave, 1996)
  • Once in a Blue Universe (Higher Octave, 1997)
  • From the Redwoods to the Rockies with Russ Freeman (Windham Hill, 1998)
  • Four Corners (Higher Octave, 1999)
  • Shadow and Light (Higher Octave, 2002)
  • Midnight Noon (Higher Octave, 2004)
  • Holiday (Higher Octave, 2005)
  • Follow the Sun (Shanachie, 2009)
  • Fire Red Moon (Blind Pig, 2012)

With Jefferson Starship

With Starship

With Paul Kantner, Grace Slick

With Grace Slick

With Jack Traylor and Steelwind

  • Child of Nature (Grunt, 1973)

With Big Bad Wolf

  • Big Bad Wolf (1998)

As guest[edit]

With 3rd Force

  • 3rd Force (Higher Octave, 1994)
  • Force of Nature (Higher Octave, 1995)
  • Vital Force (Higher Octave, 1997)
  • Force Field (Higher Octave, 1999)
  • Gentle Force (Higher Octave, 2002)

With others

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Craig". Craig Chaquico. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Tamarkin, Jeff (2003). Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Simon and Schuster. pp. 267–. ISBN 978-0-671-03403-0.
  3. ^ "Evening with the STARS raises more than $95,000 for San Juan Unified schools". Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  4. ^ "Craig Chaquico". Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Jefferson Starship|Craig Chaquico|American Music Therapy Association Advocate". Rock On Magazine. September 25, 2016. Archived from the original on April 27, 2021. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Torre, Olivia (March 30, 1995). "Chaquico's New Trip". Houston Press. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c McClellan, Michael (April 2016). "Craig Chaquico – String Theory – Fifteen Minutes With…". Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  8. ^ Taylor, Chuck (August 31, 2002). "Craig Chaquico: Musical Lone Ranger". Billboard. p. 104. Archived from the original on April 27, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2012 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Craig Chaquico". AllMusic. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Slonimsky, Nicolas; Baker, Theodore (2001). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Vol. 3. Schirmer Books. pp. 1725–. ISBN 978-0-02-865528-4.
  11. ^ "Craig Chaquico". Blind Pig Records. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Brennan, Sandra. "Craig Chaquico". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "A band named Sue: A look at the legal saga surrounding Jefferson Airplane". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on April 22, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  14. ^ "Starship". Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  15. ^ Hart, Louise (March 30, 2016). "MTV's First 'Spring Break' VJ Remembers What Spring Break Was Like Before Camera Phones". GQ. Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  16. ^ "26 Years Ago: Starship Fight!". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on September 30, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c McCellan, Michael (April 1, 2016). "Craig Chaquico – String Theory". Fifteen Minutes With... Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "New Age Music: Top New Age Albums Chart". Billboard. September 18, 1993. Archived from the original on January 26, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "Top Indie New Age Albums". Billboard Magazine: 94–100. March 26, 1994. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  20. ^ "New Age Music: Top New Age Albums Chart". Billboard. November 12, 1994. Archived from the original on January 26, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  21. ^ Iovino, Nicholas (April 28, 2017). "Guitarist Sues to Stop Use of Jefferson Starship Name". Courthouse News Service. Archived from the original on April 29, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  22. ^ Stempel, Jonathan (December 4, 2018). "Jefferson Starship Members Settle Lawsuit Over Band Name". Archived from the original on December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  23. ^ "SmoothViews - An Interview with Craig Chaquico". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  24. ^ March 2017, Damian Fanelli 01 (March 2017). "Jefferson Starship's Craig Chaquico Reunited with His 1959 Les Paul After 39 Years". guitarworld. Archived from the original on November 25, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Paul Liberatore's Lib at Large: Jefferson Starship's Craig Chaquico's quest to get back beloved Les Paul". Marin Independent Journal. March 3, 2016. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  26. ^ "Jefferson Starship's Craig Chaquico's quest to get back beloved Les Paul". The Mercury News. March 7, 2016. Archived from the original on April 28, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  27. ^ "Craig Chaquico Reunited With Long Lost 1959 Les Paul Sunburst That Was Stolen During Famous Riot at Jefferson Starship Concert in Summer of 1978 | RockStar PR". Archived from the original on February 26, 2021. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  28. ^ Clarke, John (May 8, 2013). "Jefferson Starship's Pete Sears Reunited With Stolen Bass After 35 Years". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  29. ^ "Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship |". Archived from the original on November 29, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  30. ^ October 2017, Max Bell30 (October 30, 2017). "The epic true story of Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane". Classic Rock Magazine. Archived from the original on November 19, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  31. ^ "Craig Chaquico: Jefferson Starship, Craig Chaquico (solo)". July 17, 2017. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  32. ^ "Artist Support of Music Therapy - Artist Support of Music Therapy - American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)". Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  33. ^ "Guitarist Craig Chaquico performs at Vinyl". Mountain Democrat. March 4, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  34. ^ "27th Annual Guitar Player Readers Poll". February 1, 1997. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)