Per Rolling Stone, “Jefferson Airplane Guitarist Paul Kantner Dead at 74”
Paul Kantner, founding member, guitarist and singer for Jefferson Airplane and Starship, died Thursday of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, according to San Francisco Chronicle. He was 74.
The musician had been in ill health in recent years, with Kantner suffering a heart attack in March 2015, according to the paper.
With Jefferson Airplane, Kantner helped pioneer the oft-imitated psychedelic sound: simple, fuzzy guitar lines steeped in dreamlike reverb. The group formed in 1965 and, within a few years, scored hits with “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” In their first run, five of the band’s seven albums went gold, including 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow and 1968’s Crown of Creation.
Verging on a breakup in the early Seventies, Kantner recorded a solo album, Blows Against the Empire, with Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, crediting it to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. The album was nominated for a Hugo Award presented to the best science-fiction and fantasy works. After formalizing the band Jefferson Starship, the band went on to greater commercial success than Jefferson Airplane, scoring platinum and gold records, including the double-platinum 1975 record Red Octopus. Kantner quit the group in 1984, but would rejoin in 1992 and continue to play with them until his death…
I’ll admit I’d forgotten that Hugo nomination. Further adventures, per SFGate:
… A sometimes prickly, often sarcastic musician who kept his own counsel and routinely enraged his old bandmates — they sued him for trademark infringement (and settled) after he started his own version of Jefferson Starship in 1991 — Mr. Kantner became something of a landmark on the San Francisco music scene, the only member of the band still living in town.
“Somebody once said, if you want to go crazy go to San Francisco,” he said. “Nobody will notice.”
Mr. Kantner was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the Jefferson Airplane during the band’s glory years — from the breakthrough 1967 “Surrealistic Pillow” album through Woodstock and Altamont.
“We never made plans,” said Mr. Kantner. “Well, we made plans, but they went awry. It was good to have a plan in case they didn’t go awry.”
He maintained a strenuous touring schedule, performing regularly with some version of the Jefferson Starship name. His group sometimes included Balin, as well as David Freiberg of the Quicksilver Messenger Service, another leading Bay Area band from the ’60s.
“When I look back on it, that’s probably longer than any of the other bands I’ve been in,” Mr. Kantner said…