Jefferson Airplane Founding Member Paul Kantner Dies Aged 74

29 January 2016 | 2:23 pm | Staff Writer

The veteran musician had been a key figure of the San Francisco scene since the 1960s

The year's awful track record concerning celebrity deaths continues with the news that Paul Kantner, a founding member and guitarist for seminal US psych-rock outfit Jefferson Airplane, has passed away at the age of 74 as a result of "multiple organ failure and septic shock" earlier this week.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Kantner's death was confirmed by his longtime publicist, Cynthia Bowman. The musician had been suffering from a litany of health problems in recent years, culminating with a heart attack in March.

A native of San Francisco, Kantner formed Jefferson Airplane with co-founders Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin, Signe Toly Anderson, Bob Harvey and Jerry Peloquin, with the group ultimately settling on its "classic" line-up — Kantner, Balin, Kaukonen and recruits Grace Slick, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden — in 1967, remaining stable until 1970. 

The same year they achieved stability, they released their influential record Surrealistic Pillow, which contained two tracks that have gone on to legendary heights — Somebody To Love and White Rabbit. However, by 1972, the band had dissolved, with Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship (yes, they of We Built This City fame) rising from the ashes.

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Kantner left Jefferson Starship in mid-1984 — before the release of We Built This City, and nabbing a healthy $80,000 settlement at the time, agreeing to not use the words "Jefferson" or "Airplane" in any projects without express consent from Slick — but eventually returned in 1992 and remained with the band until his death.

Kantner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996. He is survived by his three children, Gareth, Alexander and China.