Born in Sacramento, California, and now living in the beautiful state of Oregon, Craig Chaquico grew up in a musical home. “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,” recalls the amiable guitarist. Craig’s parents purchased his first guitar around ten, but it was a life altering experience nearly two years later that gave the guitar new meaning in Chaquico’s life. The budding young musician and his father were involved in a serious automobile accident which left Craig with two broken arms, a broken rib, broken wrist, broken thumb, broken ankle and broken foot after being hit by a drunk driver. Craig recalls that the first thing he asked for was his little acoustic guitar. “Even though my fingers only stuck out about an inch from under the cast I could still reach one string on the guitar. My doctor encouraged me to play while I was in the hospital and later in the wheelchair and going through therapy. It was a great place for my spirit to go.” Craig’s challenging experience all those years ago and generous heart has led him to pay it forward. He has done a lot of work with the American Music Therapy Association and truly believes in the therapeutic and healing powers of music.
By the time Craig was fourteen, he was playing in his own band and working seriously at his craft. Primarily self-taught, Chaquico says “I was just this kid in my bedroom playing along with all these records. I would play until my fingers bled. All I did was play guitar from sunup to sundown.” During this time Craig was also gigging with his English teacher who was friendly with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, which led to Craig making his recording debut on their Sunfighter album at the tender age 16. Craig’s own band, Steel Wind, opened for Airplane on several occasions but after he played on their album Red Octopus, which was a multi-platinum seller, he became a regular with the band. Straight out of high school Chaquico joined the band and went on to pen such hits as “Jane”, “Find Your Way Back”, “Layin’ It on the Line” and “Rock and Roll is Good Time Music”. He also played lead guitar on every hit by the band including “Miracles”, “We Built This City”, “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.
Craig recalls the early days as great learning experiences. “I learned a lot from the guys in Steel Wind, and from doing sessions with Grace and Paul Kantner and that group of musicians,” he says. “There were a couple of songs where I was playing rhythm guitar and Jerry Garcia was going to come in and do the guitar solos later. I figured we could just erase it when Jerry came in but when Jerry came in the next day and he heard the track with the solo I did he said ‘That’s a great solo. Why don’t you let the kid have the solo?’ Being around all those musicians was like getting thrown into the deep end. There were so many different songwriters, musicians, and styles that I had to wear a lot of different hats.”
Venturing off as a solo artist in the early ‘90s, Chaquico quickly emerged as one of the most original and exciting artists on the contemporary jazz landscape. The combination of his rock, blues, contemporary jazz and new age roots allowed him a rare crossover success. He released his first solo album of contemporary instrumental music, Acoustic Highway (1993), which hit number one on the Billboard charts.
His next recording, the Grammy-nominated Acoustic Planet, (1994) also found a home at number one on the Billboard charts. Some of Chaquico’s other celebrated chart-topping titles include A Thousand Pictures (1996), Shadow and Light (2002) and Midnight Noon (2004).
Craig Chaquico has also participated in the successful Guitar, Saxes & More tour with Richard Elliot, Peter White, and Rick Braun. In addition to his recording and touring work, the Renaissance man has also designed his own guitars with the Washburn Guitar Company.
The collaboration resulted in the Craig Chaquico signature series guitar, a Washburn EA-20 model, with custom Chaquico features including wider frets, lower action, and steel strings. Chaquico, a die-hard environmentalist, negotiated with the Washburn company to “give something back” by planting a tree for every Chaquico guitar made.
Follow the Sun (2009) confirms the resilience of a true artist whose musical innovation is always in motion. Craig Chaquico is a consummate artist and we are lucky to witness the evolution of this giant musical force.
Craig Chaquico, platinum-selling guitarist with Jefferson Starship and chart-topping Smooth Jazz solo artist, takes a walk on the bluesier side of the street with the release of his Blind Pig Records debut, Fire Red Moon (2012). From the radio-friendly opening track, Lie to Me, (with vocal by Noah Hunt of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band) to the thunderous conclusion of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” Chaquico explores the thoroughfares and back alleys where blues and rock intersect.
There’s an instrumental version of Albert King’s signature tune, “Born Under A Bad Sign,” a rousing cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin and Tumblin’,” and sterling originals that echo the stylings of blues/rock forerunners such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, and Steely Dan. There’s even an instrumental tune entitled “Blue on Blue” that would appeal to Craig’s many smooth jazz fans.