Friday, 29 January 2016

Paul Kantner 1941-2016

Paul Kantner has died. He was a founding member and rythm guitarist of the band Jefferson Airplane. The group were originally a folk rock band and several of the members, including Kantner had a background in folk music. But eventually they became pioneers of psychedelic rock, though folk music remained an important influence. Other important members included singer Grace Slick and bassist Marty Balin.

Their most important albums, which are central to the genre and the 60s hippie culture as a whole, are Surrealistic Pillow (their most accessible album) After Bathing at Baxter's, Crown of Creation and Volunteers

The music Kantner created with Jefferson Airplane is, despite the often sloppy technical execution, very exciting; the band could really rock. And as said, the band broke new ground and was important for the development of psychedelic rock. The band had some good songwriters, of which Kantner was one (he was also a good rythm guitarist). He was an avid reader of science fiction, which influenced his lyrics. His left wing radical politics were also a source of inspiration.

These two influences eventually culminated in Blows against the Empire, his first and best album made outside of Jefferson Airplane. This was a science fiction concept album in which a group of hippies hijack a starship and escape an increasingly repressive  Earth.

Kantner's music made after that album, with a group called Jefferson Starship, isn't as interesting. The music slowly degenerated into arena rock. In his favour, Kantner realised this and left Jefferson Starship for this very reason in the mid 1980s.

And the albums mentioned above are all very good and leave Kantner with a strong legacy. He was one of the few remaining connection with the hippie era of the 1960s and an important person in rock history. It's a pity to lose him.

                                          Jefferson Airplane - Crown of Creation
                                          (written by Paul Kantner)

                                          Jefferson Airplane - We Can be Together
                                          (written by Paul Kantner)

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