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Jefferson Airplane Receive A Star On Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jefferson Airplane
Jack Casady, Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane

I have no idea what took so long for Jefferson Airplane to get a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Didn’t the band’s fame peak in the seventies? This morning, on behalf of the legendary band, singer Grace Slick, bassist Jack Casady, and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen received the 2,737th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Music. It only took 50 years for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to recognize the band’s contribution to music.

“This ceremony will bring many great memories to those with a love for the music of the ’60s and ’70s,” stated Walk of Fame Producer Ana Martinez.  “We are proud to add this iconic psychedelic rock band to the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” she added.

These events always attract a good crowd, and since it’s happening on a busy sidewalk in the middle of the day, the spots are very limited and the access difficult. If you try to go to these events, be prepared to be disappointed. I went there in the hope to take a few photos, and it was difficult since the only way to do it was to walk along the sidewalk, and casually snap a few pics while walking until the security guards scream at me. I did it a few times until one of them threatened to ban me. From a public event?

But back to Jefferson Airplane: They defined the San Francisco scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s and pioneered a genre that we now call psychedelic rock, a term really overused these days. As the emcee Lupita Sanchez Cornejo said, they embodied the spirit of the counterculture movement, and with their seven studio albums — five of which went gold — two live LPs and two top 10 singles, “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” they solidified their legacy as one of the most prolific and vital groups from the era.

John Densmore of The Doors was the guest speaker for the ceremony and didn’t miss mentioning that Grace Slick was always very opinionated (“which I like” he added). If you look at the original lineup of Jefferson Airplane, a lot of the members of the band have passed on the other side but “musicians’ spirits tend to hang around” as Densmore said, and “White Rabbit” will always be part of our collective memory.

In 1974, Grace and some remaining members of Jefferson Airplane recruited new members and regrouped as Jefferson Starship, but she retired from music in 1990. She is now a painter and visual artist, and I had the pleasure to see some of her work a few years ago.

“I am one lucky bitch,” said the outspoken singer who is now 82, alluding to her great career. Looking back, you can tell that she has never lost an occasion to share her opinionated views. In an old interview, she expressed her sentiment about aging rockers, declaring that “All rock-and-rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire.“ Today, she is a very elusive rockstar, and if Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen stuck around a bit after the ceremony, Grace fled the scene quite fast to the autograph chasers’ great disappointment. They all exited behind the Musicians institute where plenty of fans were waiting for them with vinyl in their hands.

Grace’s magnificent pipes are still thrilling when you listen to “Surrealistic Pillow,” especially when you consider the absence of sophisticated technology and voice enhancers at the time. I recently had the chance to talk to someone who went to Woodstock, and he told me that he didn’t mind being old because he saw all these great artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane perform live. At the time, Jefferson Airplane had to wait for 17 hours to play, but when they finally got onstage, Slick introduced the band’s performance as “morning maniac music.” This guy is right, this must have been some moment.

 

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