RIP: Paul Kantner (1941–2016)

The Jefferson Airplane cofounder was seventy-four years old.

Yesterday, Jefferson Airplane‘s Paul Kantner passed away due to multiple organ failure brought on by septic shock. The multi-talented guitarist and songwriter was seventy-four years old.

Kantner founded the legendary San Francisco rock band with Marty Balin in 1965. Until 1972, Kantner acted as one of the group’s most prolific songwriters having his inspired touch on songs like “Volunteers,” “Crown of Creation,” “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” and most of 1967’s After Bathing at Baxter’s. Along with the original psychedelic group’s dynamic frontwoman Grace Slick (who joined JA after the first album), Kantner formed Jefferson Starship as a side project that took off and lasted until the ’90s, even making a high-profile appearance on the doomed Star Wars Holiday special. Beyond his major songwriting contributions to both Jefferson groups (as well as the later formed KBC band), Kantner’s solid rhythm guitar and smooth vocals brought an easy warmth to any track that he had the pleasure of playing on.

The guitarist had been in poor health over the last few years—San Francisco Chronicle reported that he had a heart attack last spring—and is survived by three children. Next month, Jefferson Airplane will be honored at the Grammys with a Lifetime Achievement Award.


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