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Jefferson Starship Biography

Home > Music > J > Jefferson Starship > Biography

Birth Place: San Francisco, California, United States
Years Active: 1965–1974, 1989
Genres: Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock, Folk Rock, Hard Rock

Jefferson Starship is a rock band that formed in the 1970s from the ashes of a former band, Jefferson Airplane. Over the years the band has gone through several line-up changes with the current line-up comprised of co-founder Paul Kantner, David Freiberg, Donny Baldwin, Slick Aguilar, Chris Smith, and Cathy Richardson. The band's musical style has remained fairly stable since the 1970s, incorporating psychedelic sounds with electric folk and the pop music.

After Jefferson Airplane disbanded, co-founder Kantner began work on a side project called “Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra,” which featured David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Grace Slick, Joey Covington, and Jack Casady. This collective put out the album, “Blows Against the Empire” in 1970. Two follow-up albums emerged in 1971 and 1973: “Sunfighter,” and “Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun.” Despite the band's quirky appeal they were short lived as Kantner went on to release material over the next year as a duo with Slick, in addition to individual solo albums.

By the end of 1974, Jefferson Starship was born with a tour and a line-up of Kantner on guitar and vocals, Slick on vocals, Freiberg on vocals and keyboards, Papa John Creach on electric violin, John Barbata on drums, Craig Chaquico on lead guitar and Peter Kaukonen on bass (who was later replaced by Pete Sears). The band's debut album, “Dragon Fly,” arrived in 1974 and turned gold within six months. Marty Balin joined the band before their second offering, “Red Octopus” which was released in 1975 and was an even bigger commercial success than their first album. The band's next two albums, 1976's “Spitfire” and 1978's “Earth” were also commercial successes. However, in-house fighting began among band members with Slick and Balin quitting the band by 1978. The remaining members struggled on, made a few line-up changes and released their fifth studio album, “Freedom at Point Zero.” However the band's popularity began to decline with the absence of Slick.

Slick returned to the fold in 1982; however Kantner was feeling the negative criticism from the band's critics and decided to quit in 1984. When the remaining members of the band wanted to continue on under the same name, Kantner sued his formed bandmates for the rights to the name “Jefferson Starship.” By 1985 the legal battle had ended and Jefferson Starship was no more. The remaining band members were now calling themselves “Starship.”

A decade later in 1992, Kantner reinvented “Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation,” with guitarist Slick Aguilar, keyboardist Tim Gorman, Jack Casady and Papa John Creach. 1993 saw Balin rejoin Jefferson Starship, after 15 years away from the music world. Creach died in 1994, and vocalist Diana Mangano joined the band.

1995 saw the band release a live album, “Deep Space / Virgin Sky” that featured Slick on five of the songs. 1999 marked the arrival of the band's studio album, “Windows of Heaven,” which featured Slick on background vocals on the track, “I'm On Fire.”

Balin retired in 2003, but still occasionally joins the band in concert. Casady left in 2000 and Gorman left in 1995. 2008 saw the band go back into the studio and begin work on a new album, “Jefferson's Tree of Liberty,” which Slick, Balin and Casady all contributing to the album.