Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Matrix, San Francisco October 29, 1966 Jefferson Airplane



These paragraphs from Ralph Gleason's column in the October 31, 1966 San Francisco Chronicle not only reveal a hitherto unknown Jefferson Airplane performance, but present a revealing portrait of the early Airplane, about to rise to stardom. Gleason comments
The Jefferson Airplane is now working with the new girl singer, Grace Slick, and it is obviously going to be a huge success. She has excellent stage presence, projects warmly and has charm. Her voice is very flexible and adaptable to the Airplane's repertoire and she is adding numbers to it daily.
At a delightful party for the Jefferson Airplane fan club at The Matrix Saturday, the group sang a whole set largely composed of new numbers. "My Best Friend," written by Skip Spence, is going to be one of their best tunes and "The White Rabbit," a special song by Grace, is a delight.
The Wildflower were booked at The Matrix for the weekend, according to the best sources, and I am assuming that this was some sort of afternoon show. Since the Matrix served beer, minors would not have been allowed under normal circumstances, and the radio-station concoction of "fan clubs" was definitely a teenage thing. Grace Slick had debuted with the Airplane at the Fillmore on Sunday, October 16--Signe Andersen had played the first two nights of the weekend--and after playing an Opera Benefit (the Fol De Rol), the Airplane had played four regular nights at The Matrix from October 24-27, so this event on Saturday, October 29 would have been a sort of Futures Contract for the Fan Club (note to traders: Limit Up).

Let's contemplate this: you are a teenager who liked the first Jefferson Airplane album, so you sent in a postcard to the "fan club," and you live in San Francisco, or near enough that you can get a ride from a parent or older sibling. You get invited to an afternoon performance of your fave band, with a new lead singer, at a groovy place. You go, because your parents are cool or figure it's just a fad. You sit in a tiny place that seats 100 and have pizza and cokes, and Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane run through most or all of Surrealistic Pillow.

Later, music doesn't seem as exciting.

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