|Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson|
|12 String Rickenbacker|
Just Like One Pop Sold to
Jorma was a very nice guy. He taught guitar at another music store in San Jose, and would often come by after work to hang around and talk about guitars and music, and of course, to try out different guitars my dad had hanging as stock on the walls.
One day Jorma came by the store for something -- I don't remember what, perhaps it was to pick up his Rick 12 string. However, most of the Jefferson Airplane came with him, in a kind of bus -- perhaps in transit from some performance. I think the bus was some kind of Volkswagen, but not the usual hippie bus you might think of. It was long and slender, with several seats on either side, each with its own window. There were no peace symbols or hearts of other sixties graffiti on it, it was clean and well maintained.
So anyway, into our store walked Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin and one other, I think it was bass player Jack Casady. I can't remember. Paul Kantner was the rhythm guitar player, and he used a six string Rickenbacker. As they stood waiting for Jorma to finish his business with my father, I chatted with Paul Kantner. We talked about how one could hook up a Rickenbacker to two different amplifiers simultaneously, and play stereo-style (Ricks have two input jacks for such a purpose). That was high tech 1966. You could do it, but I never could figure why anyone would want to. Paul was a nice guy, easy-going and pleasant to talk to. I remember he was dressed all in white -- white jeans and a white shirt (but not a dress shirt).
Soon after this meeting, my younger brother and I went to see the Airplane play at a club called "the Losers South," in San Jose -- where the Hawaiian Gardens is now. Playing with them that night was Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company. I brought along a Rickenbacker bass guitar for Jack Casady to try out, but he was too wedded to his Fender Precision bass to make the switch. I think he slept with that Fender. (As an aside, we heard Janis Joplin sing that night, up close and personal. I told my younger brother that I thought she was terrible, and would never amount to a thing. Her famous song "Bobby McGee" had not yet been recorded.) Today I have both a Fender bass and a Rickenbacker bass, both great bass guitars.
The Airplane's singer was Signe Anderson, who just had a daughter, and I saw her holding her newborn between sets, looking lovingly into the baby's face. Signe quit the Airplane in October of that year. She decided she would rather be a mom than a rock singer. She was replaced with Grace Slick, and the rest is rock history. Several decades later, the Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul and Signe stayed in touch through the years, but no more.
A week ago, on Janiuary 28, 2016, both of them, Paul and Signe, died of natural causes, on the very same day! They were both 74 years old. I had seen them in person when they were only 24. Time passes. It is sad when one's personal heroes and role models die, and we are reminded of our mortality. No matter how glorious the springtime of youth, or how long the future seems to stretch before us, we ultimately come to the same place -- a grave.
The Seattle Times has the story and some great background at this link.
You can listen to the Airplane's most famous song, "White Rabbit," at this link.
The founder of Earth, Wind and Fire, another famous sixties group, also died this week. He was Maurice White, also 74 years old. So what's up with the age of 74?? I'm not liking this trend.
I'm not 74 yet, being a few years younger than these worthy musicians. I'm not good enough to die yet, either, as I am still learning to be a bass player. So to the Dark Angel I say, hold off a few years. I have not yet finished my journey in this realm. Then I can die. If Paul, Signe, Maurice and Vince Guaraldi can die, so can I. In the meantime, however, I'd better get my bass out and practice.
Speaking of dead musicians, tomorrow, February 6, 2016, is the 40th anniversary of the death of Vince Guaraldi, jazz pianist.