by Brad Roberts
Paul Kantner and Jefferson Airplane came along at just that moment in my life when I was formulating a life identity (trying to figure out what the hell was going on, while the world was blowing apart), and it was this band that influenced me more than any other. Had I been a few years younger, and a few more years younger than that, the deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie during January might have affected me more. But I was 16 when I first heard Jefferson Airplane and they immediately exploded all my preconceptions about my own musical tastes and became my favorite band. Funny how ones placement in the space/time conundrum can so exactly dictate which rock and roll figures, which movies, which books one will identify with the most. With their combination of powerful vocals and heady, psychedelic experimentation plus a collection of musicians who were all expert in their respective fields, I was an instant fan and they opened all sorts of doors in my head.
Surrealistic Pillow was their current album, but I immediately tracked back to pick up their 1966 first album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off to hear their roots, becoming familiar with their first female lead singer Signe Anderson. Hearing her powerful folk voice, it was easy to see why they selected the similarly strong Grace Slick to replace her when she left the band to raise her family. So, to then hear that she had passed away on the same day as Paul, well, it makes one ponder one's own mortality. In the photo above Paul is second from left and Signe is second from right. Though I never saw her in concert, I did see Paul and Jefferson Airplane (above) and Jefferson Starship many times, even attending a show of the current Jefferson Starship in 2014 at Saban Theatre. May they meet "On the deck of a starship with their heads hooked into Andromeda."
I went out to a show the night I heard the news because I needed to see some live music and it was a tonic. We who remain behind must plow forward. There's plenty of good music this week to restore the soul.