One of the founders and driving forces behind a band that helped define the psychedelic Sixties has died. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Paul Kantner, co-founder of the seminal San Francisco band Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday.
Kantner reportedly died of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years, including suffering a heart attack back in March, and reportedly had another heart attack earlier this week.
Kantner co-founded Jefferson Airplane with Marty Balin in 1965, and the band quickly became associated with the San Francisco sound, rising to become one of the most prominent rock groups of the counterculture in the 1960s and helping to define the Summer of Love in 1967. The group’s 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow,” which contained its defining hits “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” is widely considered one of the quintessential albums of the period and an emblematic symbol of the hippie movement.
“The Airplane was renowned for thrilling vocal gymnastics by singers Marty Balin, Grace Slick and Mr. Kantner, the psychedelic blues-rock sound developed by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady and the LSD-spiked, ’60s-era revolutionary fervor of its lyrics,” the Chronicle reports.
The band later evolved into Jefferson Starship, which featured a more progressive sound and was again fronted by Kantner and Slick.
The Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and is scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award next month at the Grammys.
Here’s an appearance by the band on the Smothers Brothers’ TV show back in The Day, performing “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love”: