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Chaquico in 2016
September 26, 1954 |
Sacramento, California, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, pop, blues, New Age, contemporary jazz|
|Labels||RCA, Sony, BMG, Capitol, Grunt, Higher Octave, Blind Pig|
|Associated acts||Jefferson Starship, Starship|
Craig Chaquico (// chə-KEE-soh; born September 26, 1954) is an American guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He is a founding member of the rock bands Jefferson Starship and Starship and the only member of both bands to play on every song, album, tour, and video. Since 1993, Chaquico has had a successful solo career as a contemporary acoustic jazz guitarist and composer.
Chaquico was born and raised in Sacramento, California, and attended La Sierra High School in the suburb of Carmichael. His mother, Muriel, was a state government employee, and his father, Bill, was an upholstery craftsman who owned his own business. He had an older brother named Howard. His household was a musical one, as his mother played piano and organ and his father played saxophone and accordion. As 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." He began playing the guitar as a young boy, when his parents bought him his first guitar at the age of ten.
When Chaquico was twelve, he and his father were traveling in their car when they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Chaquico sustained major injuries. Both of his arms were broken, as were his leg, ankle, foot, wrist, and thumb. 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. Although he could play only the high E string of his acoustic guitar due to his casts, he benefited from playing and his father kept his word about the Les Paul.
Chaquico started playing guitar in clubs when he was fourteen. Two years later, he was asked to join his English teacher, Jack Traylor's, new band, Steelwind, which performed in the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Areas.Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane saw him perform and invited him to a series of recording sessions and concerts. Chaquico's first recording with Kantner and Grace Slick was in 1971 on their album Sunfighter, followed by Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun. He played on Slick's solo album, Manhole, in 1974. During this period, members of the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash often appeared together in concerts and recordings, and he played alongside Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, David Freiberg, and Carlos Santana.
When he joined the newly formed Jefferson Starship touring band in 1974, Chaquico expected to go back to school after one tour. Instead, Slick and Kantner invited him to join the band permanently. Chaquico played a crucial role in launching Jefferson Starship into commercial success. The band eventually earned twenty platinum and gold albums including Red Octopus which was certified double-platinum in 1995. Chaquico was the only member to appear in every recording, album, tour, and music video. He wrote or co-wrote Jefferson Starship's songs Fast Buck Freddy," "Love Too Good," "Rock Music," "Jane," "Find Your Way Back," "Layin' It on the Line," and "Light the Sky on Fire". Jefferson Starship performed the song "Light the Sky on Fire" for the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978.
On April 22, 1974, San Francisco Chronicle music critic Joel Selvin wrote, "Guitars are the best thing about live rock bands and Chaquico is easily the best thing about Starship." Carvin Guitars began placing advertisements in Guitar Player magazine and Guitar for the Practicing Musician during the 1980s featuring Chaquico and his Carvin V220 and doubleneck electric guitars X100B amp stacks,  which became their best-selling products through the 1980s as a result.
The name Jefferson Starship was legally retired by all band members in March 1985 after Paul Kantner left the band and it renamed simply Starship. All other band members, including Chaquico, remained with the band at that time. Starship went on to significant commercial success with hits, "We Built this City," "Sara" and "Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now." Chaquico and Starship were featured in MTV videos on a regular basis and notably appeared in the first MTV Spring Break special in Daytona Beach in 1986.
Chaquico left Starship in 1991, and soon after, the band announced that it would quit. Having become disappointed with the musical direction Starship was going, Chaquico formed Big Bad Wolf, a hard rock band which recorded one album before disbanding.
He began a solo career that explored world music, New Age, 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, while his second album, Acoustic Planet (1994), reached number one on the same chart and received a GRAMMY Award nomination for Best New Age Album. The album borrowed from African and Native American music. The song "Just One World" was launched into space on a satellite that was part of NASA's Space Ark program. His most recent album, Fire Red Moon, was Chaquico's first blues album and it reached number fifteen on Billboard's National Blues Chart. Since then Chaquico has cemented his standing as one of the top-selling contemporary jazz/New Age artists, selling over a million copies of his solo material. Chaquico's unique sound is known for hard-driving, melodic, "killer" solos.
Chaquico was named Best Pop Instrumental Guitarist in Guitar Player magazine's 1997 Readers' Poll. He earned a spot on Jazziz magazine's list of Top 100 Most Influential Jazz Guitarists of All Time. He has collaborated with Ozzie Ahlers, Sammy Hagar, Tom Scott, Commander Cody, 3rd Force, Cusco, Russ Freeman, and Gregg Rolie, among others. He has worked with some of the world's biggest record producers such as Ron Nevison, Mike Clink, Kevin Beamish, Narada Michael Walden and Mutt Lange.
Chaquico became a believer in the healing power of music after recovering from a car crash when he was twelve. With the National Association of Music Therapy, Beamz, Remo, and Washburn Guitars, he provided instruments to patients in hospitals. He has become an Artist Advocate for organizations such as the American Music Therapy Association and Memory and Music which use music as a therapeutic, healing power for injured and traumatized people of all ages as well as those with various forms of dementia. With the support of these organizations, Craig has brought music into hospitals, prisons, schools and other places where music can provide healing. AMTA says this about Chaquico on their website's artist support page
He is a member of Bikers for Charity, a group run by Harley Davidson that supports the Muscular Dystrophy Association. When he negotiated a contract to make his Washburn signature guitar, the two parties pledged to plant a tree for every signature guitar manufactured. He supports Guitars in the Classroom, a group with the mission to train and equip teachers to transform learning into a creative, musical process.
- Acoustic Highway (Higher Octave, 1993)
- Acoustic Planet (Higher Octave, 1994)
- A Thousand Pictures (Higher Octave, 1996)
- Once in a Blue Universe (Higher Octave, 1997)
- 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
- Dragon Fly (1974)
- Red Octopus (1975)
- Spitfire (1976)
- Earth (1978)
- Freedom at Point Zero (1979)
- Modern Times (1981)
- Winds of Change (1982)
- Nuclear Furniture (1984)
- Sunfighter, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick (1971)
- Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg (1973)
- Manhole, Grace Slick (1974)
- Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, Paul Kantner (1983)
With Jack Traylor and Steelwind
- Child of Nature (1973)
With Big Bad Wolf
- Big Bad Wolf (1998)
With 3rd Force
- 3rd Force (1994)
- Force of Nature(1995)
- Vital Force (1997)
- Force Field (1999)
- Gentle Force (2002)
- Rock 'n Roll Again, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (1977)
- Alive Alone, Mickey Thomas (1981)
- Gregg Rolie, Gregg Rolie (1985)
- Only a Moment Away, Joan Burton (1993)
- Apurimac III: Nature Spirit Pride, Cusco (1997)
- From the Redwoods to the Rockies, Russ Freeman (guitarist) (1998)
- New Found Freedom, Tom Scott (2002)
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- "Jack Traylor and Steelwind, Child of Nature CD". www.jacktraylor.com. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
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- "Craig Chaquico". Blind Pig Records. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Brennan, Sandra. "Craig Chaquico". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
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- "The Carvin Museum - Other Vintage Ads". www.carvinmuseum.com. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
- "Carvin X-100B Review". www.justguitaramps.com. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
- Guitar player : the inside story of the first two decades of the most successful guitar magazine ever. Crockett, Jim., Crockett, Dara. Milwaukee, WI. ISBN 9781480397927. OCLC 886486254.
- "Starship - Biography | Billboard". www.billboard.com. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- Hart, Louise (2016-03-30). "MTV's First 'Spring Break' VJ Remembers What Spring Break Was Like Before Camera Phones". GQ. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
- "26 Years Ago: Starship Fight!". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
- "New Age Music: Top New Age Albums Chart". Billboard. 18 September 1993. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
- "Top Indie New Age Albums". Billboard Magazine: 94–100. March 26, 1994.
- "New Age Music: Top New Age Albums Chart". Billboard. 12 November 1994. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
- Heidt, John (2004-04-06). "Craig Chaquico – Shadow and Light". Vintage Guitar® magazine. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- "27th Annual Guitar Player Readers Poll". 1997-02-01.
- "SJEF Evening with the STARS - Craig Chaquico". sjefeveningwiththestars.com. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
- "Jefferson Starship Craig Chaquico American Music Therapy Association Advocate". Rock On Magazine. 1 (First issue). 2016.
- "Craig Chaquico | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 June 2017.