Friday, February 05, 2016

So, once again I'm a bit late hearing news on this side of the world.  But I just found out that two founding members of Jefferson Airplane both passed away last week on January 28, 2016: Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson.  (Rolling Stone obituary for Kantner HERE, Seattle Times article memorializing both Kantner and Signe Toly HERE).

Signe Toly Anderson is a footnote in rock and roll history.  She was the Pete Best of Jefferson Airplane--only did one album with them, and then left the band before they got famous.  Although for what it was worth, I used to have that album back in the day.  I used to have all the Jefferson Airplane  albums back in the day.

Paul Kantner, however, was one of the driving forces behind the band, and if you would have caught me at 17, I would probably have described him then as my favorite musician of all time.
Grace Slick and Marty Balin were both better vocalists in Jefferson Airplane.  But Paul Kantner was the idealist in the group, and came up with some of the better songs.

One of my favorites of all time is one he co-wrote with Balin: Young Girl Sunday Blues

Another bonus video: Paul Kantner arguing with the Hells Angels at Altamont.  Skip to 4:04 to see the confrontation.

I mentioned my fondness for Jefferson Airplane once in an older post back in 2005.  In that post, I also linked to the NPR program on Jefferson Airplane, which is still online and still worth listening to. [LINK HERE]


Darrell Reimer said...

Kantner was also, apparently, a real SOB to work with. Howard Mandel admits as much, but adds, "Fact is, no other American band of that musically explosive era — not the Byrds, the Mothers of Invention, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, the Turtles, the Mamas and the Papas, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Dylan with Robbie Robertson and Nashville session players — had created a work of such esthetic reach and multi-faceted unity. Kantner was the one who worked through considerable distractions to pull it all together."

Joel Swagman said...

Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that article.

Although he immediately took it back, I tend to agree with Howard Mandel's original comment that Paul Kantner's death didn't get the publicity it deserved. (I almost missed it completely, were it not for a stray comment by someone in an expat forum).

I didn't know that Paul Kantner was so notoriously difficult to work with, although the infighting in Jefferson Airplane was well documented.

And I whole heartedly agree that "Bathing at Baxters" was a masterpiece. Although...although I'm not quite sure I'd praise it as high as he did. I mean, those are some big names he's listing there in comparison. (Admittedly he automatically omits all the British contenders with his qualification of "American")

...and yet..and yet, I can't think of an album by any of those groups that I would prefer to "At Bathing at Baxters". (Possibly "Younger than Yesterday" by the Byrds...)

Thanks for the link

Darrell Reimer said...

Mandel's claim is a bit lofty, I think. Pet Sounds came out the year before, and surely walloped listener sensibilities with more force and historic velocity, I'd say. There's little doubt it influenced Kantner -- if only to goad his ambition.

Joel Swagman said...

Of course. Pet Sounds. An oversight on my part.