Jef­fer­son Air­plane co-founder dies at 74

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES - BY HIL­LEL ITALIE

Paul Kant­ner, a found­ing mem­ber of the Jef­fer­son Air­plane who stayed with the sem­i­nal San Fran­cisco band through its trans­for­ma­tion from 1960s hip­pies to 1970s hit mak­ers as the even­tual leader of suc­ces­sor group Jef­fer­son Star­ship, has died at age 74.

Kant­ner, who drew upon his pas­sion for pol­i­tics and sci­ence fic­tion to help write such rock clas­sics as “Wooden Ships” and “Vol­un­teers,” died on Thurs­day of or­gan fail­ure and sep­tic shock. He had been ad­mit­ted to a San Fran­cisco hos­pi­tal af­ter fall­ing ill ear­lier in the week, his for­mer girl­friend and pub­li­cist Cyn­thia Bow­man, the mother of one of his three chil­dren, told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

The gui­tarist and song­writer had sur­vived close brushes with death as a younger man, in­clud­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent dur­ing the early 1960s and a 1980 cere­bral hem­or­rhage, and he re­cov­ered from a heart at­tack last year.

Few bands were so iden­ti­fied with San Fran­cisco or so wellem­bod­ied the ide­al­ism and he­do­nism of the late ‘60s as Jef­fer­son Air­plane, its mes­sage boldly stated on but­tons and bumper stickers that read “THE JEF­FER­SON AIR­PLANE LOVES YOU.”

The Air­plane ad­vo­cated sex, psy­che­delic drugs, re­bel­lion and a com­mu­nal life­style, op­er­at­ing out of an ec­cen­tric, Colo­nial Re­vival house near Haight-Ash­bury. Its mem­bers sup­ported var­i­ous political and so­cial causes, tossed out LSD at con­certs and played at both the Monterey and Wood­stock fes­ti­vals.

Formed by veter­ans of the folk cir­cuit in the mid-’60s, the Air­plane com­bined folk, rock, blues and jazz and was the first group from a Bay Area scene that also fea­tured Ja­nis Jo­plin and the Grate­ful Dead to achieve main­stream suc­cess, thanks to the clas­sics “Some­body to Love” and “White Rab­bit.”

Be­sides Kant­ner, who played rhythm gui­tar and added back­ing vo­cals, the Air­plane’s best­known lineup in­cluded singers Grace Slick and Marty Balin; lead gui­tarist Jorma Kauko­nen; bassist Jack Casady; and drum­mer Spencer Dry­den, who died in 2005. Jef­fer­son Air­plane, named in part af­ter blues artist Blind Lemon Jef­fer­son, was in­ducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and is sched­uled to re­ceive the Record­ing Academy’s life­time achieve­ment award this year.

Paul Kant­ner

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