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Kantner, Paul

Entry updated 30 January 2016. Tagged: Music, People.

(1941-2016) US musician, best known as one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. During the 1970s, when his band was in temporary abeyance, Kantner recorded a sf concept album Blows Against the Empire (1970), released as by "Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship" (a usage that predated the formation of the group of that name by four years). The album concerns a group of freedom-fighters (they believe in "free minds, free bodies, free dope, free music") who hijack a governmental starship. As a concept it gets muddied both by a tendency to lapse back into contemporary anti-Nixon outrage ("Hey Dick! Pay your dues and get out of the way!") and by the fact that Kantner's partner, songwriter and vocalist on the album Grace Slick (1939-    ) was about to have the couple's first child. Songs inspired by this latter eventuality, such as "The Baby Tree" and "A Child is Coming", whilst lovely, have little to do with the story. Nevertheless the album has some fine moments, and has the distinction of being the only musical work ever nominated for a Hugo. Kantner released two more solo albums: Sunfighter (1971), whose title-track is an enthusiastic hymn to a spaceship; and Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun (1973), released as by "Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and David Freiberg". Nothing on the latter album, however, lives up to its splendid title. In 1974 Kantner reformed his more famous group as Jefferson Starship. [AR]

Paul Lorin Kantner

born San Francisco, California: 17 March 1941

died San Francisco, California: 28 January 2016

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