Paul Kantner, 1941–2016

Co-founder of 2016 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Jefferson Airplane dies at 74
  • Photo: Tom Hill/
    Paul Kantner
January 28, 2016 -- 5:48 pm PST

Paul Kantner, co-founder of 2016 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Jefferson Airplane, died Jan. 28 from multiple organ failure and septic shock. He was 74.

As a member of Jefferson Airplane, Kantner was one of the pioneers of counterculture-era psychedelic rock. With the Airplane's sophomore album, 1967's Surrealistic Pillow, the band became the poster group for San Francisco's Summer of Love. The album featured the hits "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit," which are among Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Surrealistic Pillow and "White Rabbit" were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1999 and 1998, respectively.   

Kantner explored a solo career in the early '70s, reaching the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 with his debut album, Blows Against The Empire. In 1974 he co-founded the Jefferson Airplane spinoff Jefferson Starship, with whom he recorded Top 5 albums such as 1975's Red Octopus, 1976's Spitfire and 1978's Earth.

As part of Jefferson Airplane, Kantner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The group were recently announced as 2016 recipients of the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. A special ceremony and concert celebrating this year's Recording Academy Special Merit Awards recipients will be held in the spring.

"Paul Kantner was a folk/rock giant and integral part of the 1960s rock scene," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Paul was a key architect in the development of what became known as the San Francisco Sound. … The music community has lost a true icon."

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