Somebody to Love

The title refers to a classic song from the 1960s sung by the American rock band Jefferson Airplane, who became known as hippie revolutionaries.

Birth of a Band

It all came together in 1965 when the former member of the acoustic group The Town Criers – Marty Balin met guitarist Paul Kantner at a San Francisco, California club called The Drinking Ground. In the very beginning they formed a folk-rock group and were joined by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Skip Spence, singer Signe Anderson and bassist Bob Harvey (later replaced by Jack Casady). After their first show RCA Records signed the on as Jefferson Airplane and their first album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off in 1966 went gold.

The band’s first album included such popular hits as “Tobacco Road” and “Let’s Get Together”.

Changing the Line-Up

One of the well-known members of the group Grace Slick came along when Signe Anderson left to have a baby. Slick was a former member of the group The Great Society in 1965. Slick brought with her two Great Society songs which became part of Jefferson Airplane’s second album – “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”. The album sold half a million copies.

After their second album the band chose to take a direction toward psychedelic rock and released their third album After Bathing at Baxter’s. This album created their first conflict with RCA over the use of obscene language. This album produced no hit singles and wasn’t well received. It included such songs as “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil”.

They bounced back with their fourth album Crown of Creation, which became a commercial hit. Among the songs on this album were “Lather” and “Triad”

The last album with the “classic” line-up of this group was released in April 1969 titled Volunteers. It included songs like “We Can Be Together” and “Wooden Ships”.

Jefferson Airplane performed at the Woodstock and Altamont Festivals. Afterwards more changes came their way. Dryden left the group in 1970 to join the New Riders of the Purple Sage and was replaced by Joey Covington. Slick became pregnant and the band stopped touring.

While Slick was housebound she and Paul Kantner recorded Blows Against the Empire. The album was released and billed as Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. This album featured Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Graham Nash and other friends. It also became the first musical work to be nominated for the science-fiction writers’ Hugo Award. Songs on the album included “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight”.

They released a greatest hits album titled The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane in 1970. In January 1971 Slick gave birth to a daughter named China.

Their last studio album came out in July 1972 titled Long John Silver with songs such as the title track.

Jefferson Starship

In February 1974 Slick and Kantner officially formed the Jefferson Starship. Their debut album was Dragonfly and it became a success and went gold with songs like “Ride the Tiger” and “Caroline”.

Jefferson Starship also did well with their next album Red Octopus which rose to number one on the charts and sold four million copies. A hit single on this album was “Miracles”. Two other albums followed Spitfire in 1976 and Earth in 1978 both of which went platinum.

After many different problems and changes like Slick leaving the band they all came together once more in February 1981. At this time they rose in the charts with a string of Top 40 hits like “Be My Lady” in 1982, “Winds of Change” in 1983 and “No Way Out” in1984.

When Kantner bowed out in 1984 he took the name Jefferson with him and the band became known as Starship. They enjoyed further success and their album Knee Deep in the Hoopla went platinum with successful songs like “We Built This City”, “Sara” and “Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight”.

Their album No Protection in 1987 included their third number one hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and “It’s Not Over (‘Til It’s Over) which later on was adopted as the Major League Baseball theme song.

Despite this the band finally broke up in1990. However that didn’t mean that they would not rise again and in 2000 Balin, Kantner and Casady began touring as Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers. Even though this evolved some conflicts the group released an album Tree of Liberty in 2008 which included protest folk cover songs. Among them were Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty” , Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” once performed by such groups as Peter, Paul and Mary.

Meanwhile Slick has remained true to her vow to no longer perform and now has turned to painting. She declined to appear with Jefferson Airplane during their performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1996.

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Comments 8 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

I worked backstage one summer at the Filmore West in San Francisco...they played there several times that summer....loved their work during the late 60's...not so much after that when they went mainstream.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 11 months ago from Riga, Latvia Author

How wonderful you got to hear them live Bill. I have my favorite and not so favorite songs from them.


annart profile image

annart 11 months ago from SW England

They were pretty popular here in Britain but never hit the big league here. Great music though. Thanks for the interesting info.

Ann


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 10 months ago from london

Nice music, but I did not actually know them. Sorry to see that Slick left before the big day. Generally we either look towards Spirituality which we feel is a bigger Goal, or more likely we either get tired or some inner reason is there which remains unknown.

Sweet songs though. 'Cool.'


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 10 months ago from Central Florida

I was more into Jefferson Airplane, than Jefferson Starship, although I love Grace Slick's voice. Their rendition of "Come on People Now Smile on Your Brother" is a bit different than the one The Youngbloods made famous. Who first performed the song?

Once again, you've written a very interesting hub about one of my favorite bands. I love the music of the 1960s and 1970s!


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 10 months ago from Florida

Being a teen in the 80s, I guess I know more of the Starships songs. Especially, "We Built This City on Rock and Roll." However, I have to say my very favorite song of this band that made several changes, was by the original Jefferson Airplane, and Grace Slick singing, "White Rabbit." I absolutely play that song on repeat.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

This is a great article, Rasma. I have to admit that whenever I hear Grace Slick's name, I automatically hear, "White Rabbit."

It is sad that the world lost another great artist today....David Bowie. RIP.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 10 months ago from Riga, Latvia Author

You welcome Ann.

Glad you enjoyed Manatita.

I believe Get Together was first sung by the Youngbloods. Will explore this further as a possible post. I grew up on the music of the 60s and 70s and also discovered I enjoyed the music of the 50s Shauna.

You came into your teens at a very interesting time. There was still great music to be had Missy Smith. Modern music sort of lost me after the 90s.

Ah, yes David Bowie that is a loss to the world of music Genna but at least he remains immortal through his music. I was never really into Bowie's music but I did do a tribute to him on my music blog.

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