Jefferson Airplane tonight; a tribute and a reminder.
This is getting to be too much. We’ve scarcely come to grips with the losses of several Rock icons the past few weeks, when the news of the death of Jefferson Airplane founder Paul Kantner has passed away at the age of 74 came flashing over the wires.
Paul Kantner was the heart and soul of Jefferson Airplane. From its beginnings as a folk-rock ensemble in 1965 to pioneering what became the San Francisco Sound in 1966, Paul Kantner was at the forefront, shaping and cultivating the sound which became synonymous with the 60s – became an indelible imprint on the collective consciousness of millions of teenagers and young adults; the ones who flocked to the Fillmore or The Shrine Expo Hall or The Cheetah or any one of the avalanche of concert halls which became the proving grounds for this revolution in music during the 1960s.
It’s hard to convey, almost 50 years after the event, the feelings that welled up, hearing Jefferson Airplane for the first time. It’s hard because, in 2016 so much music that is played now owes so much to those pioneering steps Kantner and company took, which changed Rock Music forever, that’s it’s impossible to give some idea just how new and different they were at the time.
And those of us who sat, spellbound on the floor of the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles, as the sonic tapestry flowed and bounced off the walls, we knew this was the future – it was all leading up to this; there was no going back.
Brave new worlds, brave new music and Jefferson Airplane was leading the way – and leading Jefferson Airplane was Paul Kantner.
And so when the news broke of his passing – that feeling of loss and the lasting contribution he made to Rock as we know it today, is always going to be with us – the feeling that one more giant has passed from our lives gives further evidence of the temporary nature of all of this. And the appreciation of his accomplishments goes without saying.
As a tribute and a reminder of just how important and revolutionary Jefferson Airplane and Paul Kantner were at the time, here is a concert from the venerable Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, preserved and broadcast by underground FM station KMPX from February 4, 1967, and that feeling of something new, something exciting is unmistakable.
Crank it up and enjoy – RIP: Paul Kantner.