Listen to Jefferson Airplane Play "Somebody to Love" in 1970, Then Jefferson Starship Play It a Decade Later

The Airplane and its derivative band performed startlingly different versions of the 1967 smash hit 13 years apart.

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Listen to Jefferson Airplane Play "Somebody to Love" in 1970, Then Jefferson Starship Play It a Decade Later

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By the early 1970s, one of the earliest and most influential contributions to psychedelic rock, Jefferson Airplane, had begun to dissolve, its original members Jack Casady, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, and Spencer Dryden sprouting out to other projects. Out of these ventures evolved Jefferson Starship in 1974, a somewhat less forceful continuation of the group that was then lacking bassist Casady and Kaukonen, who had formed Hot Tuna. Jefferson Starship continued throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, despite various personnel conflicts and lineup changes. Jefferson Starship continued to share a catalog of songs with the original Jefferson Airplane, often performing the hits of its previous incarnation.

On May 7, 1970, Jefferson Airplane performed at the Fillmore East in New York, already at this point having reached commercial success. During the performance, the group played a 10-minute version of their 1967 smash “Somebody to Love,” with Slick veering mid-song into an awkward, somewhat politicized and likely drug-fueled rant. The performance is wild and raw, with Slick hopping in and out of rhythm with the lyric and her bandmates trying to catch up. Skip ahead exactly 13 years to May 7, 1983, and we find Jefferson Starship performing the same song at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver. This version is much more neatly executed than Airplane’s in 1970, with Slick more in control, the backing harmonies more in sync, and the group sounding tighter and cleaner. It would disband the following year and evolve in Starship.

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