Jefferson Airplane Loses Two Legends
by Jody Haskins for The Laguna Spectator
Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson both passed away on January 28th. Kantner from multiple organ failure and septic shock, following a heart attack earlier in the week. He was 74 years old. On the same day, Signe Anderson, Jefferson Airplane’s original female vocalist who sang on the band’s 1966 debut LP Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, also passed away.
Jefferson Airplane were musical pioneers in the Bay Area psychedelic rock scene and in the late sixties they helped create the “San Francisco sound.” They became the first of the city’s psychedelic bands to sign to a major label in 1966. That year they released Jefferson Airplane Takes Off with Signe Anderson on lead vocals. This would be the only album recorded with Anderson on lead vocals.
Just as Jefferson Airplane was taking off, Anderson had a baby and was unable to continue with the band. She was replaced by Grace Slick for the band’s second album, Surrealistic Pillow. That album reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts. thanks to psychedelic rock classics such as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”.
They gave legendary performances at Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont.
Jefferson Airplane was an integral part of the late sixties and early seventies rock scene. The band’s apex was their spectacular performance at Woodstock. After lawsuits and infighting destroyed the band, Kantner and Slick renamed the band Jefferson Starship in 1974.
Paul Kantner was a San Francisco native, science fiction enthusiast and college dropout who lived his life on his own terms. Anderson was a decent human being who chose to sacrifice her own fame and fortune in order to raise her child. Both of their lives should be celebrated for the contributions they made to psychedelic rock and roll music. Musically we wouldn’t be where we are without them.
For more detailed information, enjoy this interview with Signe Anderson all about her days in the band.