Paul Kantner - guitarist and founding member of the seminal sixties band Jefferson Airplane as well as its successor, Jefferson Starship - has died at age 74 of multiple organ failure and septic shock.
"If you can remember the 60s, you weren't really there," Kantner allegedly said. The quote has been attributed to various sources, but it sums up his experience of the contemporary counterculture in California.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Airplane debuted their first album "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off," which was released in October 1966. But it was their sophomore effort that made rock history. With hits like "Somebody to Love", "White Rabbit," and the quintessential psychedelic album "Surrealistic Pillow", the Airplane helped propel the counterculture into mainstream American music.
Along the way, they turned a generation on to cannabis culture. Per rock lore, the band's name may be named after slang for a roach clip. And Kantner was the one who sowed the group's psychedelic roots, according to a Facebook post from Airplane founder Marty Balin:
"Surrealistic Pillow" will always be remembered as part of the soundtrack to the "Summer of Love," when hippies across America congregated in the Haight-Ashbury district of the Airplane's native San Francisco and celebrated the counterculture's values of peace and love. But the band's classic tunes have transcended that context and become enduring parts of pop culture.
To celebrate Kantner's life and legacy, check out this clip of him and the Airplane playing "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" at Woodstock: