Paul Kantner, founding member, guitarist and singer for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, passed yesterday at the age of 74.
Kantner was a musical pioneer and celebrated forefather of the dreamlike rock music that rose up in the 1960s. Jefferson Airplane formed in 1965, and had years of critical and popular success. They were the first band from San Francisco to get a record deal with a major label and released their self-titled debut album in 1966. Their two most popular tracks, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” off of Surrealistic Pillow have been upheld as some of the best psychedelic tracks ever written. Kantnor and the rest of the band helped create sounds now associated with psychedelic rock: fuzzy and distorted tones that rise out of folk and blues. They had a great run right from the start, with five of their albums going gold. They also performed at the infamous Woodstock festival and later at the disastrous Altamount. When Bill Graham opened the Fillmore Auditorium, they were very first band to headline.
After Airplane dissolved, Kantner continued to make music outside of the band, recording a solo album entitled Blows Against the Empire in the early 70s. Out of this grew Jefferson Starship, which also went on to gain commercial success. In 1984 Kantner quit the group, only to return 1992. In 1996, Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Kantner continued to play with the group until his recent death.
In his lifetime, Paul Kantner influenced countless artists and helped change music as we know it. He will be missed by many, but ultimately leaves behind a legacy that will live on.
– Claudia Arnoldo