Paul Kantner, R.I.P.

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Photograph by Roger Ressmeyer.

The musical heroes of my youth are dropping like flies. In this instance, it’s one of my San Francisco homeys, Jefferson Airplane/Starship co-founder Paul Kantner who has died at the age of 74.

I met Kantner several times back in the day, and would describe him as cordial but gruff:

A sometimes prickly, often sarcastic musician who kept his own counsel and routinely enraged his old bandmates — they sued him for trademark infringement (and settled) after he started his own version of Jefferson Starship in 1991 — Mr. Kantner became something of a landmark on the San Francisco music scene, the only member of the band still living in town.

“Somebody once said, if you want to go crazy go to San Francisco,” he said. “Nobody will notice.”

I only last long in cities where that’s true; as it is for both my home towns, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Along with Roger McGuinn and Pink Floyd, Kantner was one of the creators of sci-fi rock, but he’ll also be remembered for such counter-culture anthems as Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon,  Wooden Ships, Volunteers, and We Can Be Together.

The best way to remember someone like Paul Kantner is to share his music. so let’s tear down the wall motherfucker, and post some tunes that he wrote, co-wrote and/or sang lead vocals on:

Finally, a track from a short-lived band Kantner formed in the 1980’s with his old Airplane band mates Marty Balin and Jack Cssady:

Long live rock, be it dead or alive.

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