Music: Jefferson Starship

The classic line-up of Jefferson Starship. From left to right: John Barbata, David Freiberg (top), Marty Balin (middle), Craig Chaquico (bottom), Grace Slick, Paul Kantner (top) and Pete Sears (bottom).

Jefferson Starship (named after the ad-hoc supergroup that played on Paul Kantner's Hugo-nominated science-fiction concept album Blows Against the Empire) is an American Arena Rock band formed in 1974. It is the Spiritual Successor to Jefferson Airplane, which had broken up two years earlier and features Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg, Papa John Creach and John Barbata from the old band (with Marty Balin joining soon after formation). Other founding members include teenage guitarist Craig Chaquico and bassist/guitarist Peter Kaukonen, the brother of Jorma from Jefferson Airplane (Peter Kaukonen was gone after their first tour, replaced by the British Pete Sears). Balin officially rejoined shortly after the release of their debut album Dragon Fly from 1974. Their second album, Red Octopus would become their most successful album, and with a little help from the main single from that album ("Miracles", which hit no.3 in the charts) they became more commercially successful than Jefferson Airplane ever were. However, today they're probably best remembered as, "That band that showed up in The Star Wars Holiday Special".

Importantly, Slick was sacked due to her out-of control alcoholism and a disastrous concert in Hamburg in 1978. Then came the Star Wars Holiday Special, and not long after that, Balin was gone. The following year, lead vocalist Mickey Thomas joined the band and subsequently became the effective leader of the band in the 80's. John Barbata left in 1979 after a car crash, and was first replaced by famous British session drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and then by Donny Baldwin. By 1981, Grace Slick was back, but all of these line-up changes took its toll on the band. Finally, with Paul Kantner's departure in 1984, none of the founding Jefferson Airplane members were left, and that marked the end of Jefferson Starship. Out of the ashes of this band would come Starship.

That's not the end of the story for Jefferson Starship though. Paul Kantner re-formed Jefferson Starship in 1992, and for the first few years they used the name "The Next Generation" next to Jefferson Starship (a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation). They eventually dropped that, but they remain active today with a revolving-door line-up mainly as a touring act. As Kantner said: 'I'm working on erasing the bad history of Jefferson Starship, in the '80s when it went bad. I had to leave the band, it got so bad. I'm usually the last one at the party, as a general rule'. They've released two studio albums (Windows Of Heaven in 1998 and Jefferson's Tree Of Liberty in 2008) and several live albums so far.


Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Mark "Slick" Aguilar - guitar, vocals (1992-2012, 2014-Present)
  • Signe Toly Anderson - backing and lead vocals (1993-1994)
  • Donny Baldwin - drums, percussion, vocals (1982-1984, 2008-Present)
  • Marty Balin - lead vocals, guitar (1974-1978, 1994-2008)
  • John Barbata - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals, congas (1974-1979)
  • Gary Cambra - keyboard, synthesizer (1995)
  • Jack Casady - bass (1992-2000)
  • Craig Chaquico - guitar, vocals, synthesizer, drums (1974-1984)
  • Papa John Creach - violin (1974-1975, 1992-1994, died 1994)
  • Aynsley Dunbar - drums, percussion, marimba, synthesizer (1979-1982)
  • Barry Flast - keyboard, synthesizer (1995)
  • David Freiberg - vocals, keyboard, organ, piano, bass, synthesizer (1974-1984, 2005-Present)
  • Jude Gold - guitar (2012-Present)
  • Tim Gorman - keyboard, synthesizer, vocals, piano (1992-1995)
  • Darby Gould - backing and lead vocals (1992-1993, 1994-1995, 2005, 2008)
  • Chico Huff - bass (1998-2000)
  • Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar, banjo, keyboard, synthesizer (1974-1984, 1992-Present)
  • Peter Kaukonen - bass, guitar (1974, 1994-1995)
  • Diana Mangano - backing and lead vocals (1993-2008)
  • T Lavitz - keyboard, synthesizer, piano, organ (1995-1998, died 2010)
  • Tom Lily - bass (2000)
  • Prairie Prince - drums, percussion, marimba, rainstick, snare, kick, bodhran (1992-2008)
  • Cathy Richardson - backing and lead vocals, harmonica, guitar (2008-Present)
  • Trey Sabatelli - drums, percussion (1995)
  • Steve Schuster - saxophone (1978-1979)
  • Pete Sears - bass, piano, harpsichord, organ, synthesizer, clavinet, celeste, guitar, vocals (1974-1984)
  • Grace Slick - lead vocals, piano (1974-1978, 1981-1984)
  • Chris Smith - keyboard, synthesizer, piano, bass, squeezebox, drone, pennywhistle (1998-Present)
  • Mickey Thomas - lead vocals (1979-1984)
  • Jack Traylor - guitar, vocals (2005)
  • Bobby Vega - bass (1998-2000)


Studio Discography:

  • 1970 - Blows Against the Empire note 
  • 1974 - Dragon Fly
  • 1975 - Red Octopus
  • 1976 - Spitfire
  • 1978 - Earth
  • 1979 - Freedom At Point Zero
  • 1981 - Modern Times
  • 1982 - Winds Of Change
  • 1984 - Nuclear Furniture
  • 1998 - Windows Of Heaven
  • 2008 - Jefferson's Tree Of Liberty


Live Discography:

  • 1982 - RCA Special Radio Series Volume 19
  • 1995 - Deep Space/Virgin Sky
  • 1999 - Greatest Hits: Live At The Fillmore
  • 2000 - Live At B. B. King's Blues Club
  • 2000 - Live At Vinoy Park
  • 2001 - Post Nine 11
  • 2001 - Across The Sea Of Suns
  • 2002 - UK
  • 2003 - Live
  • 2005 - Galactic Reunion Concert
  • 2011 - Air Play
  • 2013 - Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975


Nuclear Tropes: