The Jefferson Airplane
The Jefferson Airplane took off from ground zero of the San Francisco scene of the mid-to-late 1960s. Along with local contemporaries the Grateful Dead, the Airplane pioneered the adventurous and psychedelic musical direction that came out of Haight-Ashbury and was dubbed "the San Francisco Sound." The Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco scene to sign a major-label deal and tour the United States. The group’s socially conscious vision reflected the turbulent political times from which they were born and made the Airplane a major force in the emerging psychedelic counterculture.
The classic lineup of Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen and Spencer Dryden mixed varying influences from the folk, blues, R&B, pop, jazz, psychedelia and literary realms to create a vital and original musical entity that was truly greater than the sum of its parts. The band’s second album, Surrealistic Pillow, released in 1967, had two Top Ten hits in "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" that launched the Airplane to mega-stardom. A slot at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival helped as well. Like a number of their peers, the Airplane was known as a band that had to be experienced live to be fully appreciated.
In 1969, the Airplane performed at both the Woodstock and Altamont festivals (Marty Balin was knocked unconscious by Hell’s Angels at the latter) and released their most political album, Volunteers, which many considered to be a creative triumph. But varying personal and creative tensions would cause the band to start splintering apart thereafter. Jefferson Airplane disbanded in 1972, although Kantner, Slick and Balin would go on to launch Jefferson Starship. While the Starship would score 15 Top 40 hits, most fans still considered the ‘60s material unmatched. The Starship still plays shows with varying lineups to this day.
Jefferson Airplane on the Web
The official site of the original band.
The official site of the current Jefferson Starship lineup.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The band was inducted in 1996.
Jefferson Airplane concerts at Wolfgang’s Vault
Wolfgang’s Vault has streamable tracks from nine different Airplane shows between 1965 and 1967.
Official site for the Jefferson Airplane biography "Got a Revolution" by Jeff Tamarkin
Lyrics for all Airplane albums
"You couldn't have fed the '50s into a computer and come out with the '60s." - Paul Kantner
"Through literacy you can begin to see the universe. Through music you can reach anybody. Between the two there is you, unstoppable." – Grace Slick
"I was appalled that the San Francisco ethic didn't mushroom and envelope the whole world into this loving community of acid freaks. I was very naive." – Grace Slick
"You saw musicians getting soaked by the rain. It brought everyone down to a common reality. That was the most precious thing about the festival. The egos all melted away." – Jack Casady, on Woodstock
"I was basically a blues-folky kind of guy, Jack came from various R&B things in D.C., everybody was coming from a different place. And Grace didn't sound like anybody else." – Jorma Kaukonen