Throughout this summer, a look back 50 years at the Summer of Love in 1967.
“On our first U.S. tour we were in cities where all the kids came in prom gowns and tuxedos. Then we came back to Iowa a year later and they were having nude mud love-ins and everybody had their faces painted.”
Paul Kantner, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of the Jefferson Airplane
Kantner and Marty Balin met in 1965 at a San Francisco nightclub called the Drinking Gourd and decided to start a folk-rock band. They were discovered by Bill Graham, who managed and promoted the group. When he opened his legendary Fillmore Auditorium, the Jefferson Airplane was the first headliner.
But it wasn’t until original lead singer Signe Anderson was replaced by Grace Slick that the group became successful beginning with” White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” in 1967.
Jefferson Airplane, at the Human Be-In; Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, January 14, 1967. Photo: Henry Diltz / Morrison Hotel Gallery
The group played at the historic Monterey Pop Festival on June 17, 1967.
One week earlier they performed at what is considered America’s first rock festival, The KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival on June 10 and 11, 1967 at the 4,000-seat Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre high on the south face of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California. Here they are onstage.
Photo: Henry Diltz
And a week before that Jefferson Airplane appeared before a nationwide audience on American Bandstand. The LA Times wrote earlier this year the program “captured the stark contrast between the button-up charm of Clark and the freaks onstage.”
From 1969 to 1975, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick were in a relationship, which resulted in the birth of their daughter China.
In 1974, the name of their group was changed to Jefferson Starship. The group would split in 1985, with Slick remaining in the newly-renamed Starship.
Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The Hall of Fame website wrote, “Their heady psychedelia, combustible group dynamic and adventuresome live shows made them one of the defining bands of the era.”
Kantner died in January 2016 of multiple organ failure and septic shock after suffering a heart attack. He was 74.
Grace Slick now paints.