My first memory of Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane actually came when they were Jefferson Starship and I bought the album Earth. Count on me got me addicted and I quickly purchased Surrealistic Pillow and Woodstock.
The vocals of Grace and the San Francisco sound had me listening day and night. Although I never got to see them live their music influenced me and introduced me to Woodstock and the great bands from that concert.
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band based in San Francisco, California, that became one of the pioneering bands of psychedelic rock. Formed in 1965, the group defined the San Francisco Sound and was the first from the Bay Area to achieve international commercial success. They headlined the Monterey Pop Festival (1967), Woodstock (1969), Altamont Free Concert (1969), and the first Isle of Wight Festival (1968) in England. Their 1967 breakout album Surrealistic Pillow was one of the most significant recordings of the Summer of Love. Two songs from that album, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”, are among Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
live day after Woodstock
White rabbit from smother bros.
Woodstock somebody to love/white rabbit
The October 1966 to February 1970 lineup of Jefferson Airplane, consisting of
Marty Balin (vocals),
Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals),
Grace Slick (vocals),
Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar, vocals),
Jack Casady (bass),
and Spencer Dryden (drums), was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Balin left the band in 1971. After 1972, Jefferson Airplane effectively split into two groups. Kaukonen and Casady moved on full-time to their own band, Hot Tuna. Slick, Kantner, and the remaining members of Jefferson Airplane recruited new members and regrouped as Jefferson Starship in 1974, with Balin eventually joining them. Jefferson Airplane received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
Jefferson Starship is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1974 by a group of musicians including former members of Jefferson Airplane. Between 1974 and 1984, they released eight gold or platinum-selling studio albums, and one gold-selling compilation. The album Red Octopus went double-platinum, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1975. The band went through several major changes in personnel and genres through the years while retaining the Jefferson Starship name. The band name was retired in 1984, but it was picked up again in 1992 by a revival of the group led by Paul Kantner, which has continued since his death in 2016.
Find your way back
The group was formed by former Jefferson Airplane members Kantner and Grace Slick, and evolved from several solo albums they had recorded. They were joined by David Freiberg, Craig Chaquico, John Barbata, Pete Sears, and Papa John Creach. Former Airplane front man Marty Balin subsequently joined the group in 1975, and the following year’s album Spitfire was a top five hit. Slick and Balin both left the group in 1978, leaving the remaining members to recruit Mickey Thomas as their replacement. In 1981 Slick rejoined the group, which continued with minor chart success. Kantner quit in 1984 and took legal action towards using the name; the remaining members became Starship. Kantner reformed the group as Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation in 1992, which toured regularly throughout that decade and into the 21st century. After Kantner’s death, the group continued with new members. Craig Chaquico filed a lawsuit against them in 2016 for continuing to use the name, and the suit was consequently settled.
we built this city
nothin’s gonna stop us now
After the acrimonious events that resulted in Jefferson Starship’s 1984 evolution into Starship, Kantner reunited with Balin (who joined Jefferson Starship in January 1975 following a guest appearance on Dragon Fly before leaving once more in 1978) and Casady in 1985 to form the KBC Band. They released their only album, KBC Band, in 1986 on Arista Records. On March 4, 1988, Slick made a cameo appearance during a Hot Tuna San Francisco performance at the Fillmore (with Kantner and Creach joining in), facilitating a potential reunion of Jefferson Airplane.
In 1989, the classic 1966–70 lineup of Jefferson Airplane reunited (with the exception of Dryden) for a tour and album. The self-titled album was released by Epic to modest sales but the accompanying tour was considered a success.
In 1996, the 1966–70 lineup of Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Balin, Casady, Dryden, Kantner and Kaukonen attending and performing. Slick was absent.
1998 saw the production and broadcast of a very popular episode of the hit VH1 documentary television series Behind The Music about Jefferson Airplane, directed by Bob Sarles. Band members Slick, Balin, Kantner, Kaukonen, Casady and Dryden were all interviewed for the episode, along with David Crosby, longtime Airplane manager Bill Thompson and China Kantner, daughter of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick.
In 2016, Jefferson Airplane was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2022, Jefferson Airplane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Several members have since died – Papa John Creach on February 22, 1994, Skip Spence on April 16, 1999, Spencer Dryden on January 11, 2005, Joey Covington on June 4, 2013, Signe Toly Anderson and Paul Kantner on January 28, 2016, and Marty Balin on September 27, 2018.