Jefferson Airplane (1965-1984)
Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals) 1965-1984
Grace Slick (vocals, keyboards) 1966-1978; 1981-1984
Marty Balin (vocals) 1965-1971; 1975-1978
Jorma Kaukonen (guitar, vocals) 1965-1972
Signe Anderson (vocals) 1965-1966
Bob Harvey (bass) 1965
Jack Casady (bass) 1965-1972
Skip Spence (drums) 1965-1966
Spencer Dryden (drums) 1966-1970
Joey Covington (drums) 1970-1972
Papa John Creach (fiddle) 1971-1975
John Barbata (drums) 1972-1979
David Freiberg (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards) 1972-1984
Pete Sears (bass) 1974-1984
Craig Chaquico (guitar) 1974-1984
Aynsley Dunbar (drums) 1979-1982
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Jefferson Airplane formed in San Francisco during the summer of 1965. Balin and Kantner met at a club called the Drinking Gourd that year.
The Airplane's first gig was August 13, 1965 was at the Matrix Club, which later become a showcase for new San Francisco bands. They played the first-ever gig at the Fillmore West Auditorium.
Spence quit playing drums for this band to become the guitarist for Moby Grape. His replacement, Dryden was a former jazz drummer.
Slick was a former model, who had also sung in her (now ex) husband's band, the Great Society. Their LPs weren't released by Columbia until after Slick became a star. She replaced Anderson, who left to have a baby.
Tensions grew when Slick began stealing media attention away from founder Balin. He soon left and formed the unsuccessful Bodacious D.F.
Dryden left to replace Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart in New Riders of the Purple Sage.
The first time the Jefferson Starship name appeared was when the Airplane was forced to stop touring when Slick became pregnant with Kantner's child in 1970 (They named her China). The two recorded an album as Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Starship. The album featured guest appearances by Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, and Graham Nash, among others.
Kaukonen and Casady formed Hot S--t (later called Hot Tuna) when Kantner and Slick were recording. They would eventually leave the group to work on that band.
Barbata had been a member of the Turtles and Freiberg a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Creach began as a member of Hot Tuna, who played with the Airplane when Kaukonen and Casady did. He decided to keep playing with the Airplane instead.
China Kantner grew up to an acting career (best known as Willow on Home Improvement). She was also a VJ on MTV from 1986-1988.
In February 1974, the Jefferson Airplane was changed to the Jefferson Starship. The new group featured Chaquico, at the time 19 years old, who had played in Steelwind with his high school English teacher. Kaukonen's brother, Peter, played bass with them for four months before being replaced by Sears, who had played with Rod Stewart.
In November 1976, Slick married lighting director Skip Joohnson (13 years her junior).
Dunbar had been a member of Journey. He had also played with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, and Lou Reed.
After Kantner left in 1984, the group was simply known as Starship, but still enjoyed much commercial success.
Kaukonen, Casady, Slick, Balin, and Kantner reunited for one self-titled LP in 1989. It hit #85.
In 1977, the Airplane was stopped from playing in Golden Gate Park, because there was a ban on electric instruments. It was a free concert.
Some say they based their name (the first one) on Blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson. Others say they got it from the term for a match split apart to act as a clip for marijuana. They were the symbols of the Haight-Ashbury counterculture movement in the Sixties. What did you expect?
Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship's Blows Against the Empire was the first music ever nominated for science fiction's most prestigious award, the Hugo Award.
They personified Psychedelic Rock with their lyrics, wardrobes, stage sets and album cover art. Psychedelic Rock was often associated with drugs and probably peaked in the 1967 summer of love. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. (thanks, Elizabeth - Beverly Hills, CA)
A "jefferson airplane" was a slang term in the '60s for a roachclip made by splitting the paper of a paper match in half lengthwise. (thanks, Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada)
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