Paul Kantner + Grace Slick – Sunfighter (1971)

FrontCover1Sunfighter is an album created by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. The album was released shortly after the Airplane album Bark was released, and is the second record released on the Airplane’s own Grunt label, backed by RCA. The album features a picture of their baby daughter, China Wing Kantner on the cover. Many Bay Area musicians perform on the album, including members of the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the horn group, Tower of Power. This album was also the first that Craig Chaquico performed on; he would become the lead guitarist for Jefferson Starship.

The song “Sunfighter” is dedicated to Marty Balin, who had formed Jefferson Airplane with Kantner.

The song “Diana” was written in response to the story of Diana Oughton and the Weathermen.

The song “Silver Spoon” concerns cannibalism. According to the liner notes, Grace Slick, now a vegan, conceived of the song out of frustration with pressure from vegetarian neighbors in Bolinas, California, where she and Kantner had recently moved.

The song “China” is about their new daughter, China Kantner. Her picture is used on the cover of the album. (by wikipedia)


This is something of a family album, co-credited to Paul Kantner and his wife, Grace Slick, and featuring on its cover a photograph of their infant daughter, China. It also features the family of San Francisco Bay Area musicians, including David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, and other current members of Jefferson Airplane and future members of Jefferson Starship. Its style of loosely arranged acid rock music and radical left political lyrics is similar to such recent albums as the Kantner/Starship Blows Against the Empire (December 1970) and the Airplane’s Bark (August 1971), which were made by most of the same players. But Kantner and Slick’s usual stridency is not counterbalanced by substance as much as on earlier efforts, perhaps because they were making too many albums too quickly to keep up the quality of their songwriting. Still, anyone who enjoys the sweet-and-sour unison singing of X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka should listen to Sunfighter to see where they got it from. (by William Ruhlmann)


Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane dies at 74

Paul Kantner, who helped pioneer psychedelic rock as the guitarist and founder of Jefferson Airplane and its splinter group Jefferson Starship, has died of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He was 74.

SF Gate reports that he had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week. He’d endured numerous health problems in recent years, including a previous heart attack in March 2015.

PaulKantner02Born in San Francisco on March 17, 1941, Kantner had been a folksinger in the Bay Area when he met another folike, Marty Balin, in 1965. Over the next couple of years, they recruited guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady, drummer Skip Spence and vocalist Signe Anderson. After releasing their 1966 debut, Spence and Anderson left and were replaced by, respectively, Spencer Dryden and Grace Slick.

The first album with the new lineup, Surrealistic Pillow, was one of the original albums of the growing psychedelic movement, hitting stores four months before the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It spawned Top 10 singles in “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” They performed at both Woodstock and Altamont, the latter of which saw Balin knocked unconscious by a Hells Angel during their set. Kantner sarcastically thanked the motorcycle gang for their action.

But by 1970, after five albums, the band began to come apart. Kantner and Slick, who by now had become a couple, brought together a handful of their fellow San Franciscans and released an album called Blows Against the Empire. The concept album, about humans leaving Earth for outer space, was credited to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, and the Airplane officially split up in 1972.


After a couple more records in this loose all-star format, Kantner, Slick settled on a lineup for the band, and brought Balin back. Jefferson Starship had a poppier edge than its predecessor. Balin’s “Miracles,” a No. 3 hit in 1975, pushed Red Octopus into the top slot on Billboard‘s album chart. But after 1978’s Earth, which had two more hits in “Count on Me” and “Jane,” the internal fighting returned, and Balin and Slick, whose relationship with Kantner ended in 1975, left. Kantner kept Jefferson Starship alive through various incarnations until 1984, when Starship was formed.

He revived Jefferson Starship in 1992, and they remained a viable touring act. Jefferson Airplane were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Kantner is survived by China Kantner, his daughter with Slick, and two sons, Gareth and Alexander. (by


Paul Kantner (vocals, guitar)
Grace Slick (vocals, piano)
Jack Casady (bass on 01. + 08.)
Craig Chaquico (lead guitar on 09.)
Joey Covington drums on 01., 03., 08. + 12.)
Papa John Creach (violin on 01. + 09.)
David Crosby (vocals on 05., 06. + 10., tambourine on 05.)
Spencer Dryden (drums on 09.)
Jerry Garcia (guitar on 06., 07. + 12.)
Pat Gleeson (synthesizer, piano on 11.)
Jorma Kaukonen (guitar on 05.)
Peter Kaukonen (guitar on 03.,  mandolin on 06.)
Bill Laudner (vocals on 07.)
Graham Nash (arp on 05., vocals on 06. + 10.)
Phill Sawyer (sound effects on 04.)
Steven Schuster (flute on 01. + 03., saxophone on 03. + 08.)
Shelley Silverman (drums on 06.)
Jack Traylor (guitar, vocals on 10.)
John Vierra (synthesizer, keyboards on 11.)
Chris Wing (drums on 08.)
Edwin Hawkins Singers (vocals on 03.):
Edwin Hawkins – Walter Hawkins – Tramaine Davis Hawkins – Elaine Kelley – Norma J. King – Barbara Gill – Ruth Wyons – Daphne Henderson – Shirley Miller – Eddie Bayers)
Tower of Power (horns on 03. + 08.)
Greg Adams – Mic Gillette


01. Silver Spoon (Slick) 5.40
02. Diana (Kantner/Slick) 0.52
03. Sunfighter (Kantner) 3.50
04. Titanic (Sawyer) 2.25
05. Look At The Wood (Slick/Kantner) 2.08
06. When I Was A Boy I Watched The Wolves (Kantner/Slick) 4.59
07. Million (Kantner) 4.02
08. China (Slick) 3.17
09. Earth Mother (Traylor) 3.16
10. Diana 2 (Kantner/Slick) 1.01
11. Universal Copernican Mumbles (Gleeson/Vierra/Kantner) 2.03
12. Holding Together (Slick/Kantner) 7.40


Paul Kantner (March 17, 1941 – January 28, 2016)