Updated: Jun 3, 2022
Jefferson Starship is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1974 by a group of musicians including former members of Jefferson Airplane. Between 1974 and 1984, they released eight gold or platinum selling studio albums, and one gold selling compilation. The album Red Octopus went double-platinum, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1975. The band went through several major changes in personnel and genres through the years while retaining the Jefferson Starship name. The band name was retired in 1984, but it was picked up again in 1992 by a revival of the group led by Paul Kantner, which has continued since his death in 2016.
The group was formed by former Jefferson Airplane members Kantner and Grace Slick, and evolved from several solo albums they had recorded and a business decision to connect the two bands.: 267 They were joined by David Freiberg, Craig Chaquico, John Barbata, Pete Sears, and Papa John Creach. Former Airplane frontman Marty Balin subsequently joined the group in 1975, and the following year's album Spitfire was a top five hit.
Slick and Balin both left the group in 1978, leaving the remaining members to recruit Mickey Thomas as their replacement. Slick rejoined the group in 1981, which continued with minor chart success. Kantner quit in 1984 and took legal action towards using the name; the remaining members became Starship.
Kantner reformed the group as Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation in 1992, which toured regularly throughout that decade and into the 21st century. After Kantner's death, the group continued with new members. Craig Chaquico filed a lawsuit against them in 2016 for continuing to use the name, and the suit was consequently settled.
Marin County: Jefferson Starship guitarist finds bass guitar stolen 35 years ago
In the 35 years since his custom-built bass guitar was stolen during a riot at a notorious rock festival in Germany, former Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears has held onto a fading hope that someday it would turn up and be returned to him. That day came in April 2013.
The long-lost instrument, nicknamed “Dragon” because of its distinctive silver dragon inlay, recently surfaced in Germany. It’s now on its way back to Sears at his home in San Rafael.
"This is beyond belief,” he said as he traveled to a concert with his current band, Moonalice. “It’s amazing. It will be incredible to hold it again and play it.”
The German owner, who said he’d bought it in 1991 from a fellow musician, had stored it in a closet for many years. After seeing a photograph of it online along with a story about how it came to be missing, he agreed to sell it back to Sears.
A longtime Marin resident, Pete Sears, now in his 70s, went on to a successful career, playing with the Starship, Rod Stewart, Hot Tuna, the David Nelson Band, John Lee Hooker and John Cipollina, among others.