R.I.P. Paul Kantner

Paul Kantner Merritt B.C. , 2014

PAUL KANTNER 1941-2016
The former co-founder and lead guitarist of seminal San Francisco psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane and its later incarnation, Jefferson Starship, passed away early on Thursday January 29th 2016 from multiple organ failure, he was 74 years old. “He spent the entire time on stage and one hour with me on the tour bus, holding a lit cigarette but I never saw him light it,” marvelled Music Express staff member Ted Van Boort after ME had booked Jefferson Starship to perform at a music festival staged in August 2014 at Merritt B.C.”He looked pretty fragile then, but he was still able to perform”.
Kantner, who founded Jefferson Airplane in 1965 with lead vocalist Marty Balin, enjoyed early success when the band’s second album, the 1967 “Surrealist Pillow”, featuring new co-lead vocalist, Grace Slick (who had just replaced Signe Anderson), chalked up two major hits with Slick’s “White Rabbit” and Somebody To Love”. Then managed by Promoter Impresario, Bill Graham, the band achieved notoriety performing at the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and Altamont (opening for the Rolling Stones) before reforming as Jefferson Starship in 1974 after former members Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen left to join Hot Tuna.
Kantner, Slick and Balin soldered , chopping and changing their lineup (Balin replaced by Mickey Thomas and Slick ultimately fired) until 1984 when Kantner became disillusioned and quit only to return to reform Jefferson Starship, The Next Generation in 1992. With various lineup changes including new lead vocalist Rachel Rose and former Quicksilver Messenger Service front man David Frieberg now fronting the band, Kantner was forced to the sideline in 2015 due to health issues with the Freiberg led Starship still on the road.
Kantner leaves behind three children, Gareth, Alexander and China whose mother is Grace Slick.

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