Although the band was fronted by vocalists Grace Slick and Marty Balin, Kantner was considered a driving force.
The band quickly attracted a local following – and when fledgling promoter Bill Graham opened his legendary Fillmore Auditorium, Jefferson Airplane served as the first headliner.
Signed to RCA Records for the then-princely sum of $25,000, the band scored five gold albums in the US, including 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow and 1968’s Crown of Creation in their first run of success.
The band advocated sex, psychedelic drugs, rebellion and a communal lifestyle, operating out of an eccentric house near Haight-Ashbury.
Its members supported various political and social causes, tossed out LSD at concerts and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals – w the band’s set was scheduled for Saturday evening but wound up taking place at 08:00 the next morning.
The group began to fragment soon after, with Kantner releasing a well-received solo album, Blows Against the Empire, and other members forming the blues-rock band Hot Tuna.