Psychedelic rockers Jefferson Airplane were at the center of San Francisco hippiedom in the 1960s. Their breakthrough album, Surrealistic Pillow, was released just months before the Summer of Love in 1967, and they eventually achieved national and international fame. They went on to perform at all the staple late ’60s music festivals like Woodstock, Altamont, Monterey Pop and Isle of Wight.
Jefferson Airplane’s best-known song was “White Rabbit” (closely rivaled by “Somebody to Love”), sung by their then-new band member Grace Slick. Slick’s transcendent and unusual bellows made this song a psych-rock classic. Just a few days after the album was released, they performed two triumphant sets at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. During their early set, Grace Slick prefaced “White Rabbit” with an unusual intro: “It’s about all the people who couldn’t get in tonight, all the little drug addicts under 18. No incense under 18. They said it smelled sweet, right? It’s either incense or marijuana.” Hear “White Rabbit” live in 1967 below.
Listen to Jefferson Airplane via the Paste vault.