Tales of Rock: Iconic Jefferson Airplane and Starship singer Grace Slick celebrates her 80th birthday today

Feed this into your head: Grace Slick celebrates her 80th birthday today.

As a member of Jefferson Airplane , the powerhouse singer established herself as one of the iconic voices of the Woodstock era, then found continued success with the more mainstream-rock-oriented spinoff groups Jefferson Starship and Starship .

Prior to joining Jefferson Airplane, Slick sang with another Bay Area band, The Great Society . She replaced the Airplane’s original female vocalist Signe Anderson in late 1966 in time to record the group’s breakthrough second album, 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow . Slick brought two Great Society songs with her — “Somebody to Love,” written by the band’s lead guitarist and Grace’s then-brother-in-law, Darby Slick , and the self-penned “White Rabbit.”

The songs peaked at #5 and #8, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Airplane’s biggest hits. The band emerged as one of the leading psychedelic acts in the U.S. and performed at the historic 1967 Monterey Pop and 1969 Woodstock festivals. In 1971, Slick and band mate Paul Kantner had a daughter, China Kantner .

After Airplane’s 1972 breakup, Grace and Paul formed Jefferson Starship. Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin soon joined the group, scoring hits such as “Miracles,” Count on Me,” “With Your Love” and “Runaway.”

Slick and Balin left the band in 1978, but Grace rejoined in 1981. After Kantner quit Jefferson Starship in 1984, the group changed its name to Starship and proceeded to score three #1 hits — “We Built This City,” “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

Grace took part in a Jefferson Airplane reunion album and tour in 1989 but retired from music after the trek ended. Since then, she’s focused on painting.

Slick was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane in 1996.

 

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