Paul Kantner (1941–2016)

Paul Kantner
Paul Kantner in 1975

The rock world lost three big names in January: David Bowie, the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and, finally, Paul Kantner, who cofounded Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. While Bowie’s death grabbed most of the headlines, all three artists were important, and it was the loss of Kantner that hit me most deeply. The Jefferson Airplane were a hugely significant part of late-sixties music; and albums like Surrealistic Pillow and After Bathing at Baxter’s meant a lot to me, as did the Starship’s Blows Against the Empire.

I never got to meet Kantner, but I did see the Airplane in concert in their heyday, and I also had a long meeting in 1974 with drummer Spencer Dryden, who talked to me about the Jefferson Airplane’s early days and Woodstock appearance, as well as his later work with New Riders of the Purple Sage.

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