RIP Paul Kantner - Jefferson Airplane

Paul Kantner: Founding Member and Guitarist of Jefferson Airplane Dies at Age 74, Publicist Says
Kanter’s publicist, Cynthia Bowman, said he died Thursday from multiple organ failure and septic shock. He was a member of Jefferson Airplane for the band’s entire run.

Man, I never thought old age could be so deadly.


First one of late to make it into the 70’s?

OK Noonan, you’ve proved your power; you can stop now.

If Mick, Keef, Ronnie and Charlie aren't nervous, they should be.

Paul Kantner co-founder, singer, song writer and guitarist has died aged, 74. He once described San Francisco as 49 square miles surrounded by reality. Airplane later morphed into Jefferson Starship and gained more commercial success, but probably lost some of the their creative spark along the way. i quite liked an album they made that halfway between the Airplane and Starship, with the wonderfully evocative title, "Baron Von Tollbooth (Kantner) and the Chrome Nun (Grace Slick), if only for the superb tracks “Flowers In The Night.”

The guitarist and songwriter of the San Francisco psychedelicists fell ill earlier this week and died of organ failure and septic shock.

Paul Kantner, a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane who stayed with the seminal San Francisco psychedelic band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hit makers under the name Jefferson Starship, has died, aged 74.

Kantner, who drew upon his passion for politics and science fiction to help write such classics as Wooden Ships and Volunteers, died on Thursday of organ failure and septic shock. He had been admitted to a San Francisco hospital after falling ill earlier in the week, his former girlfriend and publicist Cynthia Bowman, the mother of one of his three children, said.

The guitarist and songwriter had survived close brushes with death as a younger man, including a motorcycle accident during the early 60s and a 1980 cerebral haemorrhage, and he recovered from a heart attack last year.

Few bands were so identified with San Francisco or so well-embodied the idealism and hedonism of the late 60s as Jefferson Airplane, its message boldly stated on buttons and bumper stickers that read “THE JEFFERSON AIRPLANE LOVES YOU.”

The Airplane advocated sex, psychedelic drugs, rebellion and a communal lifestyle, operating out of an eccentric, colonial revival house near Haight-Ashbury. Its members supported various political and social causes, tossed out LSD at concerts and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals.

Formed by veterans of the folk circuit in the mid 60s, the Airplane combined folk, rock, blues and jazz and were the first group from a Bay Area scene that also featured Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead to achieve mainstream success, thanks to the classics Somebody to Love and White Rabbit.

Besides Kantner, who played rhythm guitar and added backing vocals, the Airplane’s best-known lineup included singers Grace Slick and Marty Balin; lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen; bassist Jack Casady; and drummer Spencer Dryden, who died in 2005. Jefferson Airplane, named in part after blues artist Blind Lemon Jefferson, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and is scheduled to receive the Recording Academy’s lifetime achievement award this year.

“He was the first guy I picked for the band and he was the first guy who taught me how to roll a joint,” Balin wrote of Kantner on his Facebook page. “And although I know he liked to play the devil’s advocate, I am sure he has earned his wings now”

Kantner, who looked as much like a college student as a rock star with his glasses and shaggy blond hair, did not have the vocal or stage presence of Balin and Slick, or the instrumental power of Kaukonen or Casady. But he became the conscience of the band and by the end of the 60s was shaping its increasingly radical direction, whether co-writing the militant Volunteers with Balin or inserting a profane taunt into his own incendiary We Can Be Together, leading to an extended fight with their record company, RCA.

Meanwhile, Kantner and Slick reigned as one of rock’s most prominent couples. Rolling Stone would note their contrasting styles, labeling Slick “the Acid Queen of outrageousness” and Kantner her “calm, dry, sardonic flip side.” In 1971, Slick gave birth to their daughter, whom the couple originally wanted to call God, but decided to name China. (China Kantner became an actress and MTV VJ.)

Slick and Kantner broke up in the late 1970s and Kantner had a son, Alexander, with Bowman, and another son, Gareth. Kantner was the Airplane’s only native San Franciscan and its most political and experimental thinker. He had been a science fiction reader since childhood and with friends David Crosby and Jerry Garcia among others recorded a 1970 concept album about space travel, Blows Against the Empire, credited to Kantner and Jefferson Starship.

Kantner, Crosby and Stephen Stills would collaborate on the escapist, post-apocalypse fantasy Wooden Ships, which Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills and Nash each recorded and performed at Woodstock.

With perfect timing for a 60s band, the Airplane began splitting apart at the end of the decade. Kaukonen and Casady founded the blues group Hot Tuna, and Balin, the band’s estranged original leader, also left. In 1974, Kantner and Slick brought in new musicians and renamed the group Jefferson Starship. Their sound softened and, with Balin back, they had hit singles with Miracles and Count On Me among others and a No1 album, Red Octopus.

But by the mid-1980s, when Slick and Mickey Thomas were lead vocalists, Kantner thought the music so “mundane” that he left the Jefferson Starship and successfully forced the remaining members not to use the name “Jefferson”. (His former bandmates called themselves Starship and had three No1 songs, including Sara and We Built This City).

Over the past 30 years, Kantner, Balin and Casady occasionally performed as the KBC Band and a reunited Airplane briefly toured and recorded. Kantner made a handful of solo and Jefferson Starships albums and used various musicians in the studio and on the road, including daughter China on vocals and son Alexander on bass.

Kantner was born in 1941, the musical and nonconforming son of a traveling salesman. He dropped out of college to pursue a career in folk music and became friendly with Crosby and future Starship member David Freiberg, spending days and nights on the beach, strumming guitars and indulging in Crosby’s premium stash of marijuana.

He spent much of his life in his native city, and would look back years later and remember a golden age of art, free love and joyous possibility. He joked that San Francisco was a privileged haven, “49 square miles surrounded by reality”. He believed deeply in the 60s dream, often citing an anecdote that for a few days in 1966 the stars were so aligned that you could expect any wish to be granted.

“Which, needless to say, it was,” he liked to add.

If Mick, Keef, Ronnie and Charlie aren't nervous, they should be.
Pretty sure keef karked it a long time but performs as a hologram

Someone playing The Dead Pool?


If Mick, Keef, Ronnie and Charlie aren't nervous, they should be.
Pretty sure keef karked it a long time but performs as a hologram

Pretty sure Keef has carefully trained his body through sheer quantity and variety of , err, products to reach a point where he now has immunity from death.

I think it’s time we had a serious conversation about what sort of world we’re going to leave for Keith Richards.

If Mick, Keef, Ronnie and Charlie aren't nervous, they should be.
Pretty sure keef karked it a long time but performs as a hologram

Pretty sure Keef has carefully trained his body through sheer quantity and variety of , err, products to reach a point where he now has immunity from death.

Worked for me!



Is Diana Ross still alive?

Did anyone see this ???

Signe Anderson, Jefferson Airplane’s original female vocalist who sang on the band’s 1966 debut LP Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, passed away January 28th. Anderson was 74. No cause of death was provided, but Psychedelic Sight reports that Anderson had suffered health issues in recent years, while her former band mate Jack Casady said she recently entered a hospice facility. Anderson’s death came the same day as her former band mate Paul Kantner, who passed away January 28th from multiple organ failure and septic shock.

Following news of Anderson’s death, the surviving founding members of Jefferson Airplane paid tribute to their one-time singer. “One sweet lady has passed on. I imagine that she and Paul woke up in heaven and said ‘Hey what are you doing here? Let’s start a band’ and no sooner then said Spencer was there joining in!,” Marty Balin wrote on Facebook, referring to the band’s late drummer Spencer Dryden. “Heartfelt thoughts to all their family and loved ones.”

Born in Seattle and raised in Portland, folk singer Signe Toly boarded Jefferson Airplane in the summer of 1965 after being asked to join the band by Balin following a San Francisco performance; soon after she would marry Merry Prankster Jerry Anderson.

Anderson would appear on the band’s debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, singing lead on that LP’s “Chauffeur Blues” and featuring prominently on their version of “Let’s Get Together,” the Chet Powers-penned track that would become a hit for the Youngbloods the next year.

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook