Jefferson Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene to achieve mainstream commercial and critical success. The band performed at the three most famous American rock festivals of the 1960s; Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and Altamont (1969) as well as headlining the first Isle of Wight Festival. Their recordings were internationally successful, and they scored two US Top 10 hit singles and a string of Top 20 albums. Successor bands to Jefferson Airplane include Jefferson Starship and Starship.
Marty Balin and Paul Kantner founded Jefferson Airplane in 1965 to perform at The Matrix, a music club on Fillmore Street that Balin and a group of investors had opened in a former pizza parlor. Their first performance featured Marty Balin on vocals, Paul Kantner on vocals/rhythm guitar, and Jorma Kaukonen on lead guitar. Signe Anderson, (who sang on Jefferson Airplane’s first recording “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off”) also performed. The bass player, Jack Casady and drummer Skip Spence, (who was later one of the original members of Moby Grape) joined the band two months later
In November 1965, Jefferson Airplane signed a recording contract with RCA Victor, which included an unheard-of advance of US$25,000. Spencer Dryden became the drummer in June of 1966 and Grace Slick (from local group The Great Society) joined as vocalist in October of 1966. The group’s second LP, “Surrealistic Pillow”, recorded in Los Angeles in only thirteen days at a cost of $8000, launched the Airplane to international fame. The LP entered the Billboard album chart on March 25 and remained there for over a year, peaking at #3 and selling over one million copies. “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit” became major US hits. Although Jefferson Airplane never again achieved top ten singles, their music became a staple on the emerging FM rock radio stations and their albums sold well.
In 1974 Kantner founded Jefferson Starship, with Balin, formally launching the release of the album ”Dragon Fly” and its single “Ride The Tiger”. Balin in addition to Kantner and Slick the original band consisted of David Freiberg (keyboards, bass), Craig Chaquico (lead guitar), Pete Sears (bass, keyboards), John Barbata (drums) and Papa John Creach (electric violin).Jefferson Starship hits included “Miracles” (1975), “With Your Love” (1976), and ”Jane” (1979)
Starship was the remaining sextet of musicians that, with Paul Kantner, had made up Jefferson Starship until his exit from that band in June 1984. Grace Slick was the only former Jefferson Airplane member to be in Starship. “We Built This City” hit number one in November 1985 and it went gold. The first Starship album,” Knee Deep in the Hoopla”, reached the top ten and went platinum. Starship followed with a second number one single, “Sara,” also featured on the album. A third single, “Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight,” made the Top 40. in January 1987, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,”, became Starship’s third number one hit in April and eventually was certified as their second gold 45. The second album, “No Protection”, released in July 1987, was preceded by the single “It’s Not Over (‘Til It’s Over),” which reached the top ten as the album went gold. In 1988 Slick left the group. Their third album, Love Among the Cannibals, included the Top 20 hit “It’s Not Enough”
The Jefferson Airplane was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996,
Kantner,and Balin continue Jefferson Starship with David Freiberg, Mark “Slick” Aguilar, Donny Baldwin, Chris Smith and with Cathy Richardson taking the role made famous by Grace Slick.
View the official Jefferson Airplane website here (www.jeffersonairplane.com)
View the official Jefferson Starship website here (www.jeffersonstarshipsf.com)