Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane Fame Dead at 74

Guitarist Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship fame has died at 74.

Kantner face

Mr. Kantner suffered a fatal heart attack this week. It has been confirmed by his longtime friend and publicist Cynthia Bowman that he died of organ failure and septic shock. In recent years Kantner had been plagued with multiple heath issues, including a heart attack in March of 2015.

Paul Kantner is survived by three children: daughter China (with Grace Slick) and sons Gareth and Alexander.

He was born Paul Lorin Kantner on March 17, 1942 in San Francisco, California. His father was a traveling and salesman and when his mother passed away he was sent to military school. Mr. Kantner found solace in science fiction books and music as child. Pete Seeger inspired him to become a folk singer. He attended Santa Clara University and San Jose State University before dropping out to pursue music full-time.

Jefferson Airplane
LOS ANGELES – NOVEMBER 1: Jefferson Airplane on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR. From left: Paul Kantner, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, Grace Slick, Jorman Kaukonen and Marty Balin. Image dated November 1, 1968. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Kantner was a founding member of the 1960s band Jefferson Airplane. The band was formed in 1965 in San Francisco at a bar, Drinking Goured, when Marty Balin and Paul Kantner met and expressed interest in starting a folk-rock band.

The band quickly gained a strong following and was the first band in their ilk to sign a major record contract. They were a pioneer in rock genre psychedelic rock and were the first band out of the San Francisco scene to achieve international success.


Jefferson Airplane was on the bill of the three most notable American rocks festivals of the 1960s – the Monterey Pop Festival (1967), Woodstock (1969), and the Altamont Speedway Free Festival (1969). They were also the first headlines of the Isle of Wright Festival in 1968.


In 1967 Jefferson Airplane released the album, Surrealistic Pillow, and it known as one of the most pivotal recordings in what is now regarded as the “Summer of Love.” Surrealistic Pillow produced two hit songs, Somebody to Love and White Rabbit – these two songs are on the Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The most familiar line-up of the band was: Marty Balin, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, and Grace Slick. In 1972 Jefferson Airplane disbanded and split into two separate bands – Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship. Paul Kantner and Jefferson Airplane were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and they also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2016.

Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah "Cookie" Beyah hails from North Carolina. She is a pop culture nut and loves all things Nathan Fillion. Ms. Beyah has a passion for the macabre and the horror genre. She serves on the "Nevermore Film Festival" selection committee in Durham, NC and attends several comic and horror conventions each year. She holds an MA from Duke University, but is a dyed in the wool North Carolina Tar Heel fan! She also enjoys writing and reading creative non-fiction.