Grace Slick will forever be known as the focal point of the iconic sixties rock band Jefferson Airplane. As a songwriter, a singer, and a sex symbol, Grace set herself apart from the female singer/songwriters of the hippie era by the force of her personality and her authenticity as a full fledged member of a premiere rock band.
Grace Slick was born Grace Barnett Wing, October 30, 1939. According to the FBI, Grace was born in Highland Park, Illinois, although Grace Slick tells people she was born in Chicago.
In the early 1950s Grace's family moved from Illinois to California, where she attended middle school and high school. Grace attended Finch College in New York and the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, in the late 1950s and even did a little modeling in the early 1960s.
In 1965 Grace and her first husband, Jerry Slick, saw the newly formed Jefferson Airplane perform at The Matrix. Realizing that she could make much more money and have a lot more fun in a rock band, Grace decided to give up modeling and start a music career. Grace, Jerry Slick, his brother, Darby Slick and other friends formed their own band, The Great Society. The group debuted during the autumn of 1965 with Grace providing vocals, guitar, piano, and the recorder. She and her brother-in-law wrote a majority of the songs. By early 1966 The Great Society was one of the popular psychedelic acts in the Bay area.
In 1966, Jefferson Airplane asked Grace Slick to replace their lead singer Signe Toly Anderson. It didn't take Grace long to become firmly established as a full fledged member of the band, an equal among equals. Soon after Grace joined Airplane, the band began recording an album which included two The Great Society tunes: "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love". By 1967, Surrealistic Pillow and its singles were great successes and Jefferson Airplane was one of the best-known bands in the country.
From 1966 to 1971 Grace Slick wrote several memorable songs: "White Rabbit", "Rejoyce", "Greasy Heart", "Eskimo Blue Day", and "Lather." She became the face of the 1960s counter culture and became notorious for her outrageous, reckless, and violent behavior, usually fueled by alcohol.
By early 1971 Jefferson Airplane was over. Grace Slick retired from the music business in 1989. Currently Grace spends her time as a celebrity artist, selling and exhibiting her drawings and paintings.
From 1966 to 1971, Jefferson Airplane contributed to the soundtrack of the social and cultural revolution that affected America profoundly and spread throughout the world. Grace Slick, as a singer, song writer, musician and collaborator in that band has earned a unique place as a star of the 1960s Cultural Revolution. The song "White Rabbit", written by Grace Slick, became an anthem for those seeking altered states of consciousness.
The 1970s and 1980s saw Jefferson Airplane transform to Jefferson Starship and then to Starship - a transformation that is illustrative of what happened to rock music and the youth culture as commercialization overtook the music and middle age overtook those rock stars who managed to survive the psychedelic sixties.
Grace Slick was an important figure in the 1960s psychedelic rock genre, and is known for her witty lyrics and powerful contralto vocals. Slick's legacy as a trail blazing rock star remains to this day. She paved the way for countless female vocalists, writers and performers seeking to emulate her unique style.
Five Facts About Grace Slick
- Grace Slick is purported to have written "White Rabbit" in an hour.
- Grace is the vocalist for some of Sesame Street's often played musical shorts, Jazzy Spies, which featured a frenetic musical background while a singer repeatedly intoned the particular numeral being highlighted. Her then-husband, Jerry Slick, actually produced those segments.
- After giving birth to her only child, China Kantner, Grace gave birth to an urban legend when she sarcastically told a nurse that she intended to name the child "god". The nurse took Grace seriously, not understanding it was a joke.
- Grace was married and divorced twice. Her first husband was Gerald "Jerry" Slick. Although Paul Kantner and Grace Slick had a serious relationship from 1969 to 1974 and have a daughter, they were never legally married. Grace married Skip Johnson in 1976, they divorced in 1994.
- Grace Slick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 (as a member of Jefferson Airplane).
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