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Jefferson Airplane: Somebody to Love At Woodstock
During the Woodstock era, Jefferson Airplane was the biggest name in rock around the San Francisco area. They are known for the dual and sometimes triple voice behind their music. They became the symbol for the hippie archetype; living, making music, and taking drugs in one close knit circle.
Vocalist Marty Balin formed the band along with other musicians he had met around the San Francisco area. The initial band had a folk sound to them, but thanks to influences including The Beatles, The Byrds, and The Lovin ‘ Spoonful, they developed a more pop influenced sound.
After their first release titled “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off”, backup vocalist Signe Toly Anderson’s daughter was born and the announcement of her departure followed thereafter. Then came Grace Slick; being a former model, Slick’s stage presence was undeniable and her vocal style complimented the band’s transition from a folk band to a more airy psychedelic rock outfit.
The Airplane’s release of their album “Surrealistic Pillow” launched them into the limelight. The album stayed on the Billboard charts for over a year, peaking at #3. The album features the band’s two most popular tracks “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love “. Between 1967 and 1972, Jefferson Airplane was responsible for eight consecutive albums in the U.S. top 20.
At Woodstock 1969, Jefferson Airplane was scheduled to be the headliner for Saturday, but ended up instead playing at 8am on Sunday for a tired, hung over, recovering Woodstock crowd. The early “maniac morning music” session included their hits from “Surrealistic Pillow” as well as new material that would be released on future albums.
Jefferson Airplane continued to impress listeners after Woodstock until the spiral unwound in 1971 as a result of substance abuse and tragic events. Marty Balin left the band after being isolated from the rest of the band for an extended period of time; Grace Slick was involved in a near-fatal car crash; and creative differences surfaced within the band.
Despite the problems, the band remained together for one more album titled “Long John Silver” before disbanding to pursue side projects. Jack Casaday and Jorma Kaukonen formed side project Hot Tuna, while Paul Kantner and Grace Slick formed Jefferson Starship.
The band reunited in 1989 and released a self titled studio album to go along with their reunion tour. Their excellence within the psychedelic vein of the late sixties and early seventies is legendary, and many other bands began blending elements of folk, jazz, and rock which Jefferson Airplane had popularized.