It sounded like Maurice Ravel on LSD, and the singer's icy voice made tender natures' blood freeze in their veins: In July 1967, the legendary Summer of Love, "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane conquered the top ten of the US single charts. It was already the second bang of the drum that the band from San Francisco landed in this wildly moved flower power year. Only a few weeks earlier, on June 16th, the very day when one of the first big rock festivals started in Monterey, Jefferson Airplane celebrated their hit premiere with "Somebody To Love": 5th place in the USA. Like "White Rabbit", the song came from the successful album "Surrealistic Pillow", which was released exactly fifty years ago on February 1, 1967.
As the first band of the so called Acidrock Jefferson Airplane made it into the national spotlight. Turbulent years followed with grandiose albums and celebrated appearances, including at the famous Woodstock Festival. To this day, the musical collective around Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick is regarded as one of the most original and influential groups of the hippie era. Maybe Jefferson Airplane were even the most authentic band of that era.
House band in matrix
The story begins in late summer 1965 and the crime scene is a former pizzeria at the northern end of Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The 23-year-old folk singer Marty Balin has taken over the shop together with two friends and has resolved to create a forum for the lively music scene of the quarter. On August 13th, the Matrix Club will open its doors, and on the small stage the freshly assembled house band will perform their first gig, still a bit nervous. Besides Balin, these are the folk guitarist/singer Paul Kantner (24), the blues guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (24) and the blues singer Signe Toly Anderson (23). The rhythm section consists of drummer Jerry Peloquin and bassist Bob Harvey (32). Both won't stay long: They will be replaced by Kaukonen's buddy Jack Casady (21, bass) and Skip Spence (19), who actually wants to play guitar, but Balin gets him behind the drums because he looks like a drummer, according to the band boss.