Slick roasts ad partner Chick-fil-A

Grace Slick and Chick-fil-A make for some strange bedfellows. Slick, possessor of one of the biggest mouths in rock, is an avowed leftie, famed in part for her radical antiwar stance in the late 1960s. Chick-fil-A draws fire on a regular basis for its right-wing affiliations, notably its ministry wing the WinShape Foundation, which has routed millions of its profits to Biblical Christian groups opposed to gay marriage. So when Slick agreed to license the Jefferson Starship hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" to the Georgia-based fast-food franchiser, it raised a few eyebrows. Certainly during the Grammys telecast of a week back. Another '60s sellout? Nah. Slick had a plan, one she just shared in a blog post on the web site of capitalist cheerleader magazine Forbes. "I am … [Read more...]

No. 15: ‘Crown of Creation’

"Is it true that I'm no longer young?" Grace Slick sang in "Lather," the luscious and cinematic opening number of "Crown of Creation." Slick was singing about the arrested development of her lover, the Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, but by extension she addressed the fast-forward aging afflicting the San Francisco scene. That sunny Summer of Love had given away to the chill winds of LBJ's 1968. "Crown of Creation" finds the Airplane coming of age, wary but not yet transformed into the jaded radical-chic collective that rolled out "Volunteers" a year later. The erratic and playful psychedelia of "After Bathing at Baxter's" gives way to songwriting for adults: "Long time since I climbed down this mountain before," a weary-sounding Martin Balin sings on "In Time." "Things … [Read more...]

No. 81: ‘Dark Magic’

Moby Grape had it all, in those early days. The look. The attitude. The Bay Area vibe. And that weird whimsical name that no one ever forgot. But when the San Francisco band's debut album surfaced in 1967, it seems they'd forgotten the psychedelic music. The self-titled album instead was packed with well-crafted singles that anticipated alt-rock. Songwriting so strong that Columbia Records was moved to release five songs to Top 40 radio, all on one day. Today, the band is largely remembered for that majestic album and those concise classics. When NPR looked back in 2012, here's how it characterized the group: "When other San Francisco bands were stretching out with long psychedelic jams, Moby Grape was producing catchy three-minute songs that were composed, played and sung by each … [Read more...]

Dead’s movie close-up from Foxboro

Another Grateful Dead tradition comes of age -- go figure. The sixth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies is set for May 11, with the screening of an unreleased concert from July 1989. The Dead movie night again comes via the band's label, Rhino, and the cinema one-off specialist Fathom Events. The main event is the entire Dead concert from Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, dating back to July 2, 1989. It was the "tour-opening show from what would be one of the Dead's best tours of their final 15 years of performing," organizers say. Key tracks at the Sullivan Stadium show included 12 minutes of "Friend of the Devil," a rare opening of "Playin' in the Band," and "Eyes of the World." The gig featured an extra helping of psychedelic-era covers, including "Queen … [Read more...]

Cream, Tull, Prunes, Airplane spark Q2

Psychedelic music just turned a half century old. Far out. Record labels are celebrating with key rereleases from artists like Cream, the Electric Prunes, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane. Here's a curiously curated preview of psychedelic/'60s music titles due in March and into the second quarter of 2016: Cream's "Disraeli Gears" made the cut as one of the first titles in Universal Music Group's upcoming revival of the half-speed mastered process. The psychedelic touchstone ("Sunshine of Your Love," "Tales of Brave Ulysses") was prepped for its latest audiophile vinyl outing at Abbey Road Studios. "This album was cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best known analogue tape in existence," says engineer Miles Showell. (Half-speed mastered albums were popular in the … [Read more...]

Dan Hicks dies; swing-music hipster

Dan Hicks, a pioneer of the San Francisco sound who went on to bring swing music to new generations of hipsters, has died at age 74. He fronted Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, which he formed in 1967 with violinist David LaFlamme of It's a Beautiful Day Fame. Before that, Hicks was a member of the Charlatans, a San Francisco band whose extended residency at the Red Dog Saloon has been called a seminal event in the history of psychedelic rock. Although Hicks came out of the Bay Area's rock scene, he rarely played rock. He liked to call his sound "folk swing" and "folk jazz." The Hot Licks repertoire includes a psychedelic folk classic, the haunting violin showcase "I Scare Myself." Hicks had suffered from liver cancer, which he revealed to fans upon canceling a string of concert … [Read more...]

Signe Anderson of Jefferson Airplane dies

Signe Anderson, the original female singer in Jefferson Airplane, has died at age 74. Anderson, who sang with bands in Oregon over the years, had suffered from longtime health problems. Her passing of a heart condition in Beaverton, Oregon, came Jan. 28, the same day as the death of Airplane leader Paul Kantner. "One sweet Lady has passed on," Jefferson Airplane cofounder Marty Balin posted as the news broke. "I imagine that she and Paul woke up in heaven and said 'Hey what are you doing here? Let's start a band.'" Anderson sang on the first Jefferson Airplane album, "Takes Off." The album included her best-known song, "Chauffeur Blues." The singer, a new mother, found the road intolerable and decided to leave Jefferson Airplane in late 1966. Her final performances were at the … [Read more...]

Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane dies

Paul Kantner, who piloted the Jefferson Airplane through its peak years and beyond, has died. He was 74. Kantner had been in poor health in recent years. He suffered a heart attack a year ago and again in recent days. The cause of his Jan. 28 death was given as organ failure. The singer-guitarist's classic Jefferson Airplane songs include "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil," "Martha," "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon," "Crown of Creation," "We Can Be Together" and the music for "Eskimo Blue Day." He co-wrote many Airplane songs with singer Marty Balin. Within one year aboard the Airplane, Kantner experienced the highs of rock stardom -- the band's unleashing of "morning maniac music" at Woodstock -- and the lows -- the stabbing of an audience member at the Altamont music … [Read more...]

Rock Hall taps Deep Purple, Miller, Chicago

Deep Purple, Steve Miller and Chicago have found their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All three acts began in the psychedelic music era of the late 1960s. Each made albums key to the underground music scene, although Miller and Chicago are better known for their mainstream careers. Other artists entering the Rock Hall in 2016 are N.W.A. and Cheap Trick. A notable omission from the inductees list is Yes, a move that no doubt will fuel criticisms that the Rock Hall has a bias against progressive rock. Yes is now unsuccessful as a multiple nominee. Deep Purple found early success with trippy covers of the top 40 hits "Hush" (Joe South/Billy Joe Royal) and "Kentucky Woman" (Neil Diamond).Keyboardist John Lord then steered the British band into experiments with a … [Read more...]

Lesh recovering from bladder cancer

Longtime Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh has been treated for bladder cancer, but says he's expected to make a full recovery. Lesh, 75, canceled several sold-out shows at his Terrapin Crossroads bar that were to feature Chris Robinson. "I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early October, and have spent the last few weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale (Ariz.) doing tests and eventually surgery to remove the tumors," Lesh said in an Oct. 16 email sent to customers and later posted on the Terrapin Crossroads web site. "I am very fortunate to have the pathology reports show that the tumors are all non-aggressive, and that there is no indication that they have spread." Lesh successfully battled prostrate cancer in 2006. He also underwent a liver transplant related to hepatitis … [Read more...]

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