Few musical acts can lay claim to writing part of the sound-track of three decades. The Beatles may have changed the face of music but they only made it a decade. While the Rolling Stones have been at it longer they really haven’t done anything worth mention since Tattoo You in ’81.
From their beginnings in the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco they made their mark in the psychedelic sound of the late 60’s and played all three major rock festivals at that time. (Monterrey ‘67, Woodstock ’69, and Altamont ‘69)
Shortly after the band formed in ’65 their original lead singer gave birth and tapped out making way for the songstress whose unique sound would lead the way for the band meteoric success. The former model and contralto with a wicked name; Grace Slick would go onto define the group for years to come.
Jefferson Airplane would catapult into enormous commercial success and eventually deliver two songs that would make it on Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Songs of All Time” with Somebody to Love and White Rabbit.
As the 70’s ushered in, drugs, alcohol, and changing points of view caused Jefferson Airplane to split and not long after the word “Airplane” would be traded in for “Starship”. As the new decade had a softer sound the band showed its astonishing versatility. With original members Grace Slick and Marty Balin the group continued pumping out chart topping songs with Miracles and With Your Love.
But as often common members leave and legal battles ensue with the sole remaining member of the original Jefferson Airplane departed the reincarnation Starship was formed. Originally minus Grace Slick, she eventually returned to help make Starship became the prototypical band of the 80’s with #1 hits Sara and We Built This City.
This week’s RetroRewind is a band whose sound was defined by and defined the culture it found itself in. From thinly veiled drug references in the 60’s to stiring love songs in the 70’s and power anthems in the 80’s Jefferson Airplane/Starship is truly a band for the ages. Formally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 the band is a symbol of what music is supposed to be about.
I’ve chosen one song from each decade to spotlight. After listening to all three you immediately notice the drastic difference in sound from the 60’s to 70’s to 80’s.
Enjoy this week’s RetroRewind, in honor of one of the most enduring groups in music history.
Go here for more information on the history of Jefferson Airplane.
I don’t know what they were smoking, but I think I want some. Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit – ’67
This song gives me goosebumps. Jefferson Starship – Miracles – ’75
The ubiquitous 80’s sound. Starship – We Built this City – ’85