After having suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, Jefferson Airplane founder, vocalist and guitarist Paul Kantner died today (January 28) from multiple organ failure and septic shock. He was 74 years old.
Kantner’s publicist Cynthia Bowman confirmed the musician’s passing today with the San Francisco Chronicle. It was added that Kantner had been in ill health for a while, having also suffered a heart attack in March of 2015.
Born in San Francisco, Kantner had been instrumental in the start of the Bay Area’s counterculture and psychedelic rock scene that started in the mid ’60s. Formed in 1965, Jefferson Airplane would issue their debut record, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, the next year.
It was sophomore set Surrealistic Pillow that would launch the band’s career into overdrive, with their ranks now including vocalist Grace Slick. The album spawned two classic rock staples, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”
Jefferson Airplane would go on to perform at several iconic festivals, including the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and both Woodstock and Altamont Free Concert in 1969. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Kantner’s discography includes several albums with Jefferson Airplane, 1970’s Blows Against the Empire as Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, and then several more LPs as Jefferson Starship. He’d leave the latter variation of the band in 1984.
Kantner and Grace Slick delivered their Sunfighter LP together in 1971, as well as 1973’s Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun effort with vocalist David Freiberg. Kantner also issued solo material, and delivered an album alongside Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin and Jack Casady as the KBC Band in the mid ’80s.
Kantner is survived by his sons Gareth and Alexander, and daughter China.