Happy Birthday Paul Kantner: Jefferson Airplane’s 1969 ‘Dick Cavett Show’ Performance
Guitarist Paul Kantner was born in San Francisco on this date in 1941. The co-founding member of Jefferson Airplane passed away in his hometown in 2016 at the age of 74.
Kantner’s career included earning a nomination for a prestigious science fiction Hugo Award for his 1970 concept album, Blows Against the Empire. One of only two rock albums to be nominated by for typically literary honors, Kantner’s record featured contributions by members of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and David Crosby and Graham Nash. The collaboration marked the first appearance of the Jefferson Starship moniker, a post-Airplane project later turned into a full-fledged band.
Jefferson Airplane’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame came in 1996. Key figures of the mid-1960s Bay Area psychedelic movement, Jefferson Airplane were not only counterculture leaders, but they brought the sound of the scene to the masses via popular hit songs like “White Rabbit,” “Volunteers” and “Somebody To Love.” Kantner and Jefferson Airplane were also among the performers at the historic Woodstock festival held in Upstate New York in August 1969. The band went from playing their middle-of-the-night set at the muddy fest to making an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. Here’s a description of the episode from the program’s archives:
On Tuesday, August 19, 1969, Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, and David Crosby and Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), all appeared on The Dick Cavett Show. It is now often referred to as “The Woodstock Show,” as many of the performers, and Cavett’s audience, came directly from the concert for the taping the afternoon before the show aired. Stephen Stills pointed out the mud from the concert venue still on his pant leg. Jefferson Airplane’s performance of “We Can Be Together” marked the first time the word “fuck” was uttered on live television. Joni Mitchell sang “Chelsea Morning,” “Willy” and “For Free.” Grace Slick kept calling Dick Cavett “Jim” and briefly talked about her school days at Finch College. Stephen Stills performed “4 + 20.” Joni Mitchell sang “The Fiddle and the Drum” a cappella. Jefferson Airplane (with David Crosby) then launched into “Somebody to Love.” The credits rolled as everybody, aside from Mitchell, partook in an instrumental jam as the audience danced. Jimi Hendrix was scheduled to join the others but was unable to appear at the afternoon taping that occurred only a few hours after he performed at the late-running festival.
Watch Kantner and Jefferson Airplane’s performance on Cavett’s “The Woodstock Show” below: