By Chris M. Junior
Jefferson Starship (and later Starship) had a lot of chart success with ballads and mellow material, such as “Miracles” and “Count on Me” in the 1970s and “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in the 1980s.
The band did have its rocking moments, too — most notably “Jane,” which hit the Top 15 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1980. Guitarist Craig Chaquico, a mainstay of the group through its lineup and name changes, recently checked in from his home in Oregon to share his memories of the song.
Craig Chaquico: “I still do that song in my set. I remember being at an awards show, and the guys in Metallica came up to me and said, ‘Man, we really like that song “Jane” because when we were in high school, that was the only song on the radio that had a guitar solo.’ So at one point, I thought, ‘Damn, I’m old’ (laughs). But then I felt really glad that these guys would be aware of my guitar solo.
“When we were recording the song, I helped write it, and I arranged the solo. I just had this conversation with a band that learned [the song]. They said to me, ‘You know, when the guitar solo comes in, nobody else is really playing.’ (Laughs) I kind of planned it that way — that way you really had to listen to me play.
“It’s just me and [drummer] Aynsley Dunbar, pretty much, with this big, wide-open space for phrasing on the guitar. The solo is arranged so it’s really in-your-face guitar. It’s kind of a long solo — about 27 or 28 seconds. We argued over every second of it at one point.
“[The other members of Jefferson Starship were] totally supportive of me throwing my two cents into this song and rockin’ it up with guitar. Our manager came in and heard the rough mix and said, ‘Man, that guitar solo is way too long. Nobody plays solos like that on the radio anymore.’ He added, ‘If you don’t take that solo out or [cut it down], this song is never gonna get played on the radio.’ I remember me and Aynsley standing in front of the 24-track machine, with our arms crossed, [as if to say], ‘You are not getting near this machine with a razor blade.’ As the only guys playing during the solo, we were very defensive about our parts.
“The band backed me up, we left the solo in and our manager left shaking his head, saying, ‘It’ll never get played on the radio.’ And now every time I hear it on the radio, I love it. And to this day, it’s one of my favorite solos.”
“Fire Red Moon,” Craig Chaquico’s latest solo album, is out now on Blind Pig Records. The 10-song blues-rock collection contains original material (such as “Lie to Me,” featuring Noah Hunt of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band on lead vocals) as well as covers of blues standards that go back to Albert King, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.