Grace Slick's Rock And Roll Art

GRAMMY-nominated rock vocalist discusses the relationship between painting and rock and roll at the GRAMMY Museum
  • Photo: Mark Sullivan/
    Grace Slick speaks at the GRAMMY Museum
August 15, 2014 -- 8:24 am PDT

GRAMMY-nominated rock vocalist Grace Slick recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Slick discussed the relationship between painting and rock and roll, her own work as a painter and her favorite artists.

"I try, the best I can, to get really in-your-face colors, which is similar to rock and roll," said Slick. "It's simple, it's in-your-face and you don't stand back and go, 'Gee, I wonder what that is?'… Rock and roll, and the way I paint, that's commercial art. I'm not going [to] … paint a bunch of stuff that nobody likes."

Raised in Palo Alto, Calif., Slick gained fame as the powerful vocalist for classic rock groups Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship. Together with her then-husband Jerry Slick and brother-in-law Darby Slick, she formed the Great Society, with whom she released 1966's "Somebody To Love." Shortly after the trio dissolved, Slick was asked to join Jefferson Airplane in time for the recording of their sophomore album Surrealistic Pillow. Released in 1967, the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and featured two Top 10 hits — "Somebody To Love," which Slick brought over from the Great Society, and "White Rabbit." That same year the band garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist. Slick recorded an additional six albums with Jefferson Airplane that peaked in the Top 20: After Bathing At Baxter's (1967), Crown Of Creation (1968), Bless Its Pointed Little Head (1969), Volunteers (1969), Bark (1971), and Long John Silver (1972).

In 1974 Slick and guitarist Paul Kantner reformed Jefferson Airplane under the name Jefferson Starship and released hit albums such as Dragon Fly (1974) and Red Octopus (1975), the latter of which topped the Billboard 200 on the strength of the Top 3 hit "Miracles." Slick subsequently released two solo albums that cracked the Top 50: Dreams (1980) and Welcome To The Wrecking Ball! (1981). The former garnered Slick a GRAMMY nomination for 1980 for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

She earned an additional GRAMMY nomination for 1985 for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for Starship's No. 1 hit "We Built This City."

After retiring from performing in the '90s, Slick began drawing and painting. She's since illustrated portraits of fellow '60s artists Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia, among others.

Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include The Drop: Joe Henry (Aug. 27), Koaloha Ukulele: From Hawaii To Hollywood — Mele In Film (Aug. 28), and The Drop: LP (Sept. 3). 

Email Newsletter