Jefferson Airplane Founder Paul Kantner Dead at 74

He was a Godfather of the San Francisco sound with the Jefferson airplane in the 60’s. Paul Kantner died yesterday (Thursday, January 28). He was 74.

Kantner was born in San Francisco on March 17, 1941.

It was in 1965, after a meeting with singer Marty Balin, when Kantner got the idea to form a folk/rock band with something to say.

It was their sophomore album that would solidify the band as a true voice of the psychedelic movement. Featuring new lead singer Grace Slick, who replaced Signe Anderson, “Surrealistic Pillow” along with The Doors self titled debut and “Sgt Pepper’s” by the Beatles became three of the most influential albums of the summer of love in 1967.

The LP had two top 10 hits sung by Slick, the Lewis Carroll “Alice In Wonderland” inspired “White Rabbit”(some say her other muse for the tune was listening to Miles Davis while on LSD) and “Somebody to Love” that champions monogamy in San Francisco. It was almost a protest song against free-love.

When concert promoter Bill Graham opened the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1968 The Jefferson Airplane became the first headliner along with the Grateful Dead.

Kantner would often say that the bay area was so rich with new culture that it was sometimes difficult to go outside the west-coast to tour.

In 1969 Kantner and Jefferson Airplane were at Woodstock. Their performance is considered one of the best that weekend.

In the mid-seventies Kantner, Slick and Balin formed Jefferson Starship, and like the Airplane, their sophomore album “Red Octopus” was their biggie. They got their first #1 album on Billboard and the tune “Miracles” made it to #1 in the summer of 1975.

Kantner was sued a few times for using the bands trademark name which he gave up in a legal settlement. He was known as one of those “honest interviews” – telling it like it is.

In 1996 Kantner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane.

“If you want to go crazy go to San Francisco, Nobody will notice,” he once said.

He died of multiple organ failure and septic shock. Kantner had a string of health problems in recent years. – By John Beaudin