Jefferson Starship landing at Piere’s
Former Jefferson Airplane member, 84, does not see reason to stop touring
With solid roots in Jefferson Airplane, which became grounded in 1973, Jefferson Starship evolved from solo albums Paul Kantner and Grace Slick had recorded.
Joined by David Freiberg, Craig Chaquico, John Barbata, Pete Sears, and Papa John Creach, Jefferson Starship released their debut album, Dragon Fly, in 1974.
“(Slick, Kantner, and myself) put out a couple of albums while we were waiting to see if Jefferson Airplane was going to keep going,” Freiberg told Whatzup in a recent interview. “And when we finished those two albums, we realized it wasn’t, so we thought that maybe we’d better do something to promote them.
“On Paul’s solo album, Blows Against the Empire, about a bunch of hippies that hijack the first starship, he listed everybody that played on it on the cover and called them the ‘Jefferson Starship Crew.’ That was the first place that the name Jefferson Starship appeared.”
The name of the band now appears at Piere’s, where they will perform on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Lineups come, go
Between 1974-84, Jefferson Starship released eight gold or platinum albums, with their sophomore effort, Red Octopus, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1975,
However, even with the success, the lineup was anything but stable.
“We went through a whole lot of stuff during that time,” Freiberg said. “Like in 1979, when Grace and Marty Balin quit. Both then played with Mickey Thomas for a while, though Grace did come back a few years later. Then Paul left, and the band became Starship. Then I left, too.”
Kantner reformed Jefferson Starship about 1992, but that didn’t stop personnel changes, including Freiberg rejoining in 2005. However, the lineup has remained stable since Kantner’s death in 2016.
“The band now, as it exists, was the band that was playing with Paul when he passed away,” Freiberg said.
Ex-member shines on
The current lineup put out Mother of the Sun in August 2020 as the pandemic was full blown, leaving them with few opportunities to promote it.
“Well, it was ready to go and so, what are you going to do, hold on to it?” Freiberg said. “We wanted to get it out just in the case the world was going to end.
“We did a whole lot of Zooming to promote it, but there’s nothing like getting out to play it live, and we’ve been doing that for the last year.”
As the first album since his death, Mother of the Sun was fittingly dedicated to Kantner and, it turns out, the title reflects him as well.
“I think some fortune teller or seer or somebody that knows something told us that Paul was looking out for us, and we asked where he was watching from,” Freiberg said. “They said Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia was the mother of the sun and moon, and since he was in Cassiopeia, we titled it Mother of the Sun.”
No reason to slow down
Listen to classic rock radio for any amount of time, and there’s a good change you’ll hear the band’s mega-hit “Jane,” a song Freiberg wrote, or any one of Jefferson Starship’s other iconic compositions like “Count on Me,” “Find Your Way Back,” and “Miracles.”
Freiberg isn’t sure why his band’s music still appeals to fans, but he’s glad to keep playing it.
“It’s just a diverse collection of tunes,” he said. “It changed through the years, but whatever it was, it’s always been really eclectic. It all seems to connect though.”
When Jefferson Starship hits the Piere’s stage, you can expect a night full of hits, most of which you’ll know by heart and some that might become new favorites.
Freiberg said they will play “a selection of tunes from the entire gamut, all the way from Jefferson Airplane all the way up to the stuff we are doing now, maybe even beyond. We’re working on another new album now, if we ever get some time to get into the studio. Who knows? It goes back further, too. I was in Quicksilver Messenger Service before Jefferson Airplane, and we’ve been known to do a tune or two from that band, but there’s plenty of songs to play from just Jefferson Starship.”
At 84 years old, Freiberg has nearly six decades of professional music experience under his belt, but he doesn’t see a time when he or the rest of the band will slow down.
When asked if he ever thought he’d still be playing in a band at his age, he joked, “I didn’t think I’d make it 40. When I did turn 40, it was 1978 and I wrote ‘Jane.’ Personally, it’s going pretty good. I’m still having as great a time as ever, so I don’t see any reason to quit. You know, if people didn’t want to listen to us, that’d be something else, but fans seem to enjoy it, so I’m going to do it as long as I can. I’m enjoying it. Having fun is the reason for living, as far as I’m concerned.”