Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner dead at 74

Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner died Thursday at the age of 74.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Kantner passed away from multiple organ failure and septic shock following a heart attack earlier this week.

The guitarist had a string of health problems in recent years, including a heart attack in March of last year.

Guitarist Marty Balin co-founded Jefferson Airplane with Kanter in San Francisco in 1965. The group released their debut, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off”, in the summer of 1966 to little fanfare.

The addition of singer Grace Slick in 1966 and their second album, 1967’s “Surrealistic Pillow”, helped pioneer the Bay Area counterculture psychedelic rock scene referred to as the "San Francisco sound” during the “Summer Of Love.”

A pair of US Top 10 singles – "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit" – delivered the group their commercial breakthrough as the album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

The band went on to perform at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival, headlined the first Isle Of Wight Festival in 1968, and played both Woodstock and Altamont in 1969.

The classic Jefferson Airplane lineup remained stable from 1967 to early 1970 before disbanding in 1972, with some members forming Hot Tuna while Kantner and others regrouped as Jefferson Starship in 1974. The guitarist left the lineup in 1984, forcing a name change to Starship before Jefferson Airplane reunited in 1989 for a self-titled album and tour.

In 1991, Kantner and Balin reformed Jefferson Starship and the guitarist continued to tour and record with the band.

Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.