Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Kantner Dies

Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Kantner Dies

Paul Kantner, the co-founder of the 1960s rock band Jefferson Airplane, has died aged 74.

The group, from San Francisco, wrote anthems for the hippie movement including Somebody To Love And White Rabbit.

While vocalists Grace Slick and Marty Balin were the public faces of Jefferson Airplane, Kantner, a guitarist, was often considered the creative force of the band as he brought a new urgency to the folk scene from which he emerged.

"He was the first guy I picked for the band and he was the first guy who taught me how to roll a joint," Balin wrote on Facebook of his death.

"And although I know he liked to play the devil's advocate, I am sure he has earned his wings now," he said.

The Airplane advocated sex, psychedelic drugs, rebellion and a communal lifestyle.

Its members supported various political and social causes, gave out LSD at concerts and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals.

Kantner, who suffered intermittent health problems for years, died of multiple organ failure following a heart attack, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted his longtime publicist and friend Cynthia Bowman as saying.

The Recording Academy, which is due to award Jefferson Airplane a lifetime achievement Grammy this year, called Kantner "a true icon" of the 1960s music scene.

Jefferson Airplane was one of the first bands to frequent Bill Graham's Fillmore club, the epicentre of the hippie music scene that also brought in the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and The Doors.

Kantner, born in San Francisco, was a lifelong cultural fixture in the famously left-leaning city whose philosophy, he liked to say, was to break all the rules.

He wrote the 1969 anthem We Can Be Together after hearing a slogan of the nascent Black Panther movement.

"We are obscene, lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, violent and young / But we should be together," ran the signature verse.

In an interview at the time with Rolling Stone magazine, Kantner did not reject the characterisation of his music as violent.

"Violent in terms of violently upsetting what's going on, not a violence of blowing buildings up," he said.

Kantner was unabashed about his drug use, enjoying LSD and advocating the legalisation of marijuana while calling alcohol the greater danger.

He described LSD trips as the "most formative moment of my life," telling the Sarasota Herald-Tribune last year that the psychedelic drug "gave me what I always hoped religion would give me, and never did".