An intriguing composite picture of Jefferson Airplane and its many permutations.
Global Rhythm magazine editor Tamarkin doesn’t claim to be speaking the gospel of the Airplane here, but instead he offers a chronological pastiche of the personalities and events associated with the rock group. Sprinkling this account with short comments from the band members and others in its orbit, he writes a lively, detail-strewn history of the legendary band and how it took, with a vengeance, to the electricity of San Francisco in the mid-1960s. The politics of the Bay Area at that time don’t play much of a role in the story, but Tamarkin's tale leans heavily toward music, sex, and drugs, not insignificant forces by any means. He captures the swirling energy the band generated: its insistence to go its own way, particularly when confronted by music industry executives; the delirious performances at the Fillmore; the creation of the great album art and concert posters; Grace Slick’s on- and offstage intensity; the wicked frictions that came with the group’s constant game of musical beds; its musical shift from pastel to darkness; how it turned Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark on their ears; the crazywild lifestyle that finally led to fistfights, gunplay, and death at Altamont. Tamarkin also reminds readers that the band members were assertive and inspired musicians who went on to play with a wide variety of bands, constantly reinventing themselves, through Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna to the unfortunate 1989 reunion, which Rolling Stone dubbed the “most unwelcome comeback of the year.” The players were incandescent, professionally and personally, and their behavior left an endless string of anecdotes, from the joyous to the really ugly, from the Summer of Love to a drunken Slick pointing a gun at police officers.
An exhaustive treatment—an absolute trove for those with an Airplane itch—of what in retrospect was an exhilarating, but also awfully exhausting, time.