Jefferson Starship Is Still Flying High at 50 SuperNayr

Jefferson Starship has been to the moon and again, metaphorically talking. This 12 months, their music will as soon as once more carry them everywhere in the world, from Pennsylvania to Paris.

The San Francisco-bred band is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary right here in 2024, taking part in dates with the Marshall Tucker Band, but additionally various stage mates like Deep Purple. That may appear to be a wierd combo at first look, however because it seems, the heavier facet of their catalog can simply construct that bridge. The psychedelic facet of their Jefferson Airplane days opens different portals. Their quite a few radio hits gave them loads of ammo to spend the summer season of 2023 touring with Bret Michaels and Night time Ranger as a part of the inaugural Parti-Gras tour.

In a nutshell, they’re as busy as they ever have been, one thing which is stunning to vocalist and guitarist David Freiberg, a founding member who joined the band in 1974. Although he left within the mid-’80s, he is been again with the group for almost 20 years because the early 2000s. “I definitely by no means thought I might be 85 and taking part in in a rock and roll band,” he laughs throughout a dialog with UCR. “However geez, right here it’s and I’m doing that. So far as I can inform, I am having as a lot enjoyable as I ever did.”

Speaking with Freiberg is as infectious as watching his power on stage with the band. He spoke with Final Traditional Rock Nights host Matt Wardlaw just lately to spend a while wanting again on the group’s unimaginable historical past.

There was a lot occurring the San Francisco music scene within the ’60s. When did you first begin to understand the unimaginable melting pot of music that was occurring round you?
I left Quicksilver Messenger Service and I simply left as a result of I wasn’t doing something extra there. It changed into Dino Valenti’s backup band, sort of. That’s nothing towards Dino’s songwriting or something like that, it’s simply there wasn’t room for anyone else. I had no concept what I used to be going to do. I fell in with [Grateful Dead drummer] Mickey Hart, who lived down the highway from me in the identical city. He had an outdated horse ranch and constructed a studio within the barn. I began hanging on the market and dealing on the album that he was doing. David Crosby was making his solo album down at Wally Heider’s. I used to be down there so much. There was this factor that he referred to as the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Graham Nash, I imply, they’d all be within the studio with a guitar or no matter. I believe I even had my viola down there as soon as. When all people was taking part in there, all the pieces was miked. The stereo two monitor was all the time operating. It grew to become often known as the PERRO tapes. That was sort of an underground bootleg factor that’s on the market someplace. It was the start of numerous issues. Jerry was writing “Loser” for his debut solo album, so all people was taking part in that. That’s the place I realized that tune. It was positively inter-pollinated, I suppose. [Laughs]

Hearken to Jerry Garcia and David Crosby Carry out ‘Loser’

How did you meet the Grateful Lifeless to start with?
Properly, I met Jerry once I was a people singer. He was taking part in sort of bluegrass band stuff in North Seaside. He was taking part in banjo, guitar and stuff. I believe he was sort of primarily based in Palo Alto and I used to be taking part in in North Seaside, San Francisco. I’d run throughout him the entire time. When the Grateful Lifeless and the entire different bands began, we’d go to one another’s gigs. I’d be at a Quicksilver gig and look down entrance and there’s Jerry Garcia, watching us. All of us did that. It was an actual scene. That was actually enjoyable.

What did you dig about Jerry as a participant?
He was all the time within the second and all the time had a smile on his face. He’d discover one thing off the wall to play that you simply wouldn’t suppose would work with it and it all the time appeared to work. I actually preferred him as a good friend. He was enjoyable simply to hold round with, for me. When it bought all large and well-known, all the pieces sort of bought just a little unusual. I imply, I moved into this home and I’ve been in the identical home for over 50 years. After I moved in right here, Jerry and Mountain Woman lived proper down the road. I’d go down there and have espresso with them.

READ MORE: Prime 10 Jefferson Airplane Songs

Very very like the Grateful Lifeless, by way of all of the totally different phases of the band, beginning with Jefferson Airplane, the group was all the time evolving.
Despite the fact that it may need sounded an entire lot totally different. [Laughs] I didn’t really make it to the Starship half, however we appear to have saved a couple of of them in our set now — and Donny [Baldwin, Jefferson Starship’s current drummer] was within the Starship. However I might have gotten out anyway, as a result of I wasn’t doing something. I didn’t actually belong there. They wanted a keyboard participant that actually knew tips on how to play keyboards and that wasn’t me. I simply wrote to write down songs, that’s the one motive I performed keyboards. I imply, I may get some good issues that have been catchy taking part in organ fairly a bit. As a result of I do know the place the notes are. [Laughs] You may get one thing very emotional simply turning the Leslie on and utilizing the fist to slip it up the keyboard. Should you do this on the proper time, all of it works. I performed it so much and I practiced it so much. However when Peter Wolf got here in across the time of Nuclear Furnishings, he sat down and began taking part in. He stated, “Let me present you one thing.” He was simply amazingly good. The man was a baby prodigy on the Vienna Conservatory of Music. He had the chops and he was an ideal musician. He wrote some very nice songs. I knew it was time for me to get out and all people else appeared to agree that was left. [Laughs] I don’t know, it was laborious. As a result of you recognize, I really like these folks and I nonetheless do. However I like “Sara” and I didn’t thoughts “We Constructed This Metropolis.” I believed it was catchy and it was good things. However no one within the band was writing the songs anymore. All of it modified. They have been simply choosing up songs from folks that did nothing however write songs.

Watch Starship’s Video For ‘We Constructed This Metropolis’

Which was quite common within the ’80s, nevertheless it was a bizarre time for heritage bands due to that.
Yeah, and so they [handled it] very properly. But it surely appeared to disintegrate due to a bunch of egos and stuff by the tip of it, seeing it from the surface anyway. It ended up with the title being deserted, roughly. No one actually owned it, till Paul [Kantner] began working once more [under the name].

Earlier than you left Jefferson Starship the primary time, how a lot have been you shocked by the entire evolution the band went by way of? You guys went by way of so much as a band, simply within the ’70s alone.
Oh yeah, it modified with just about each album virtually. However yeah, it was good. Marty [Balin] wrote some nice issues in there and he introduced in some nice songs from different folks too. There was a bunch of fine stuff.

READ MORE: Prime 10 Marty Balin Songs

As a author and a participant, you all the time wish to be evolving in some type. So it is actually not that stunning while you have a look at it by way of that lens.
You already know, I sort of want I wouldn’t [have left the group]. I’m very pleased the place I’m now. In actual fact, if something had modified, I wouldn’t be right here. However I miss taking part in with Paul. Paul was my oldest good friend that I had. He and I have been hanging out method earlier than [there was a group] whereas we have been nonetheless simply plucking guitars and banjos. I used to be in jail when Jefferson Airplane began. Paul got here and visited me in jail. He was actually my good friend. After I was doing Mickey Hart’s album, there was this one tune referred to as “Blind John,” a couple of blind guitar participant. I heard some harmonies there and requested Paul and Grace [Slick] in the event that they wished to return in and sing on it. We had all people else and hadn’t gotten anyone from the Airplane but, so we figured we’d higher do it. I may hear the three-part concord figuring out, in order that they got here in and it labored out very properly. Grace preferred it a lot that I believe she performed the piano half on it. Then the Tower of Energy horns [played] on the tip of it. We completed up Mickey’s album after which Marty left the Airplane. They have been going to exit to advertise the Lengthy John Silver album. They requested me if I wished to return be a part of and sing harmonies with them. Since you’ve bought to have two guys singing with a lady — they cherished the music of the Weavers — and Peter, Paul & Mary. However I stated, “Are you kidding? After all, I’ll go! I’m not doing the rest. Mickey’s completed his report, what am I going to do?”

READ MORE: Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane Dies At 74

Listening to you discuss Paul, he was particular.
There was no one like Paul. No one can actually substitute him. It was sort of mental in a method, as a result of the lyrics would have little quotes from [a number of sources]. It may very well be from a science fiction novel, poetry — you do not know. However but, all of it labored. If he labored on it sufficient, it had one thing that nothing else had ever had, that I may see. Cathy [Richardson, the current vocalist for Jefferson Starship] was a giant Paul fan. It was her concept once we began performing “Connection” from the Nuclear Furnishings album. It was sort of about, why can’t all of us get alongside? Cathy knew each phrase and Paul needed to dig it out. He’d written so many songs, he couldn’t bear in mind it. We have been taking part in Tel Aviv and he thought it will be a good suggestion to play it. We really labored it up and performed it on two days discover. I had sung on it on the report, however I didn’t keep in mind that a lot of it. Cathy knew it higher than Paul did. We carried out it in Tel Aviv and that was [guitarist] Jude Gold’s second gig with Jefferson Starship.

No strain.
He dealt with it so properly. When Jude joined the band, the entire sudden, one thing occurred. Someway, the 5 of us didn’t wish to let it go when Paul handed away. We simply had to determine a method to play collectively. I consider it was at Paul’s funeral, China [Kantner, Paul’s daughter] stated, “Why don’t you guys simply carry on taking part in?” Grace wasn’t there, however then Grace additionally thought it was an ideal concept. I believe she had the facility to allow us to do this.

Hearken to Jefferson Starship’s ‘Connection’

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Gallery Credit score: Dave Swanson

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