Paul Kantner: Wikis


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Paul Kantner

Kantner performing in concert with Jefferson Starship
Background information
Birth name Paul Lorin Kantner
Born 17 March 1941 (1941-03-17) (age 69)
San Francisco, United States
Genres Psychedelic rock, Folk rock, Acid rock
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Glass harmonica
Years active 1965–present
Labels RCA, Grunt, Arista
Associated acts Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, KBC Band
Notable instruments
Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo & Mapleglo

Paul Lorin Kantner (born March 17, 1941) is an American rock musician, most noted for co-founding the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane.



Although the band was originally formed by Marty Balin, Kantner eventually became the main man of Jefferson Airplane and captained the group through various successor incarnations of Jefferson Starship. A political anarchist, Kantner is an advocate of the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD for mind expansion and spiritual growth, and is a prominent advocate of the legalization of marijuana. Kantner's primary instrument is the rhythm guitar, and he also sings lead or backup vocals.

The youngest child of elderly parents, Kantner was educated in strict Catholic schools, causing him to escape by immersing himself in science fiction novels and music. When he became a teenager he went into total revolt against all forms of authority, and became determined to become a protest folk singer in the manner of his musical hero Pete Seeger. After leaving home, he entered the San Francisco Bay folk scene where a brief affair led to the birth of Kantner's first child, a son named Gareth.

During the summer of 1965 singer Marty Balin saw Kantner perform and recruited him as part of the original Jefferson Airplane. Kantner would be the only member to appear on all Jefferson Airplane/Starship albums bearing the Jefferson prefix. Kantner's songwriting often featured whimsical or political lyrics with a science-fiction or fantasy theme, usually set to music that had a hard rock, almost martial sound.

Despite its commercial success, the Airplane was plagued by intra-group fighting, causing the band to begin splintering at the height of its success. During the transitional period of the early 1970s, as the Airplane started to disintegrate, Kantner recorded Blows Against The Empire, a concept album featuring an ad-hoc group of musicians whom he dubbed Jefferson Starship. This earliest edition of Jefferson Starship included members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (David Crosby and Graham Nash) and members of the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart), as well as some of the othermembers of Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick, Joey Covington, and Jack Casady).

In Blows Against the Empire, Kantner (and Slick) sang about a group of people escaping earth in a hijacked starship.The album was nominated in 1971 for the science fiction Hugo Award. A sequel, "The Empire Blows Back", was released in 1983 and included most of the same musicians, performing this time under the name The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

In 1969, Kantner and Grace Slick began living together publicly as a couple. Rolling Stone magazine called them "the psychedelic John and Yoko." Slick became pregnant, and a song about their love child's impending birth "A Child Is Coming" appeared on Blows Aganist the Empire. Kantner and Slick's daughter China Kantner was born in 1971. Slick would later leave Kantner to marry Skip Johnson, a Jefferson Starship roadie. Despite the split, Slick remained with the band.

Kantner and Slick released two follow-up albums. Sunfighter was an environmentalism-tinged album released in 1971 to celebrate China's birth. 1973's Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun was titled after the nicknames David Crosby had given to the couple. Through a songwriter friend Kantner discovered teen-aged guitarist Craig Chaquico during this time, who first appeared on Sunfighter and would play with all of the incarnations of the Starship name through 1991.

After Kaukonen and Casady left the Airplane in 1973 to devote their full attention to Hot Tuna, the musicians on Baron von Tollbooth formed the core of a new Airplane lineup that was formally reborn as Jefferson Starship in 1974. Kantner, Slick, and David Freiberg were charter members along with late-Airplane holdovers drummer John Barbata, and fiddler Papa John Creach, along with Pete Sears (who, like Freiberg, played bass and keyboards), and Chaquico. Marty Balin also joined Jefferson Starship while their first album, Dragonfly, was still in the works, co-writing with Kantner the albums biggest hit "Caroline."

After the 1978 release of the album "Earth" - to which Kantner contributed just one song - Jefferson Starship endured major personnel changes. Slick took a leave of absence, and Balin quit the group to pursue a solo career. No attempt was made to replace Slick, but Balin was replaced by Mickey Thomas, who was previously successful as a member of the Elvin Bishop Group. An album dominated by Kantner compositions called "Freedom at Point Zero" was released to commercial success. Grace Slick returned for the follow-up album "Modern Times" which was another record featuring Kantner's science fiction themes.

In 1984, Kantner (the last founding member of Jefferson Airplane remaining) left the group, complaining that the band had become too commercial and strayed too far from its counterculture roots. Upon quitting Kantner took legal action against his former bandmates over the Jefferson name (the rest of the band wanted to continue as Jefferson Starship). Kantner won his suit, and the group name was reduced to simply "Starship." Under the terms of the settlement, no group can call itself Jefferson Starship without Paul Kantner as a member, and no group can call itself Jefferson Airplane unless Grace Slick is onboard. The legal battle had personal repercussions as well, permanently damaging Kantner's friendships with Mickey Thomas and Craig Chiquico.

In 1985, following his departure from Jefferson Starship, Paul Kantner rejoined with Balin and Jack Casady to form the KBC Band, releasing their only album, KBC Band (which included Kantner's hit, "America"), in 1987 on Arista Records. There was a video made for "America" as well as a national KBC tour.

Kantner in concert with Jefferson Starship, 1996.

With Kantner reunited with Balin and Casady, the KBC Band opened the door to a full-blown Jefferson Airplane reunion. In 1988, during a San Francisco Hot Tuna gig where Kantner was performing, they found themselves joined by Grace Slick. This led to a formal reunion of the original Jefferson Airplane (featuring nearly all the main members, including founder Marty Balin, but without Spencer Dryden, who had been kicked out of the band years earlier). A self-titled album was released by Columbia Records. The accompanying tour was a success, but their revival was short-lived, although the band never formally disbanded.

In 1991 Kantner and Balin reformed Jefferson Starship and Kantner continues to tour and record with the band as of 2010. Today Jefferson Starship is primarily a Paul Kantner solo band, with various former Airplane and Starship members dropping in for tours or specific shows. With their latest female vocalist Cathy Richardson and Kantner's son Alexander Kantner on bass, Jefferson Starship released their first studio album in a decade titled Jefferson's Tree of Liberty in September 2008. The album was a return to Kantner's musical roots featuring covers of 1950's and 60's protest songs.

Albums discography


Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship, and Jefferson Starship-TNG

Jefferson Airplane

Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

Compilation albums credited to "Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship"

  • Hits (1998)
  • VH1 Behind the Music (2000)
  • Love Songs (2000)

Selected solo, duo and trio efforts

Paul Kantner/Grace Slick

Paul Kantner

The KBC Band

Includes Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, and Jack Casady.

External links


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