Feed Your Head

Have you seen Alice? The ultimate rock icon in 1967: 27-year-old Grace Slick in her Girl Scout uniform; the perfect combo of danger wrapped up in goodness, looking out for the next bit of trouble.

This week’s blog follows up our Jefferson Airplane coverage with a focus on one of Jim’s big-time rock ’n roll queen crushes: Grace Slick .  Just a few years younger than Jim, Grace had it all – looks, talent, charisma, craziness plus the upper crust background (she went to “finishing school” and her Daddy was an investment banker who always wore three piece suits) that, in my opinion, street-kid Jim always hankered for deep down.

If you wanted to wrap Jim around your little finger (something I learned a thing or two about though it was two and half decades later) all you had to do was look good and act dangerously — but in a ladylike sorta way.  And, of course, stick with him through thick and thin.

For a time, Grace seemed to fit that bill.  Whether it was guns or drugs (coke, not acid) and booze, Grace and Jim saw eye to eye.  In fact, Jim delighted in recounting how Grace used to stand on the balcony in front of the Airplane’s manse at 2400 Fulton and shoot her shotgun into the air.  It’s hard to relate to now, but apparently having a rifle was perfectly “legal” … not so sure about the shooting it off over Golden Gate Park part of it, though.

The Airplane doing their thing at a street performance in SF in the late ‘60s.

No wonder Jim got all googly eyed in her crazy-beautiful presence.  Plus, it didn’t hurt that Grace could write a truly great lyric and sounded like she was singing through a guitar amp from Mt. Olympus.

Here’s more from the official Grace page on www.jeffersonairplane.com:

“In August 1965, Grace read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a new band called Jefferson Airplane. A week later, she and Jerry checked out the band at the Matrix. Deciding that being in a rock band looked like a lot of fun and paid better than modeling, Grace and Jerry soon formed their own band, the Great Society. Jerry played drums, and his brother Darby Slick joined on guitar. With the lineup completed by David Minor (guitar/vocals), the Great Society made its debut at the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach section on October 15, 1965.

This shot in the Haight shows how nice and easy it was for Jim to be with the band. I love Spencer Dryden’s hat on the parking meter.

“Despite her rather late entry into rock ’n roll, Grace proved herself a talented singer. She attempted to imitate the sound of an electric guitar and developed a unique and forceful singing style. She also discovered a knack for writing songs — ‘White Rabbit’ was one of her first compositions.

“Grace has always said that ‘White Rabbit’ was intended as a slap toward parents who read their children stories such as Alice in Wonderland (in which Alice uses several drug-like substances in order to change herself) and then wondered why their children grew up to do drugs. For Grace and others in the ’60s, drugs were an inevitable part of mind-expanding and social experimentation.  With its enigmatic lyrics, ‘White Rabbit’ became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.  Even Marty Balin, Grace’s eventual rival in the Airplane, regarded the song as a “masterpiece.”

WHITE RABBIT
By Grace Slick
Jefferson Airplane
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

Just another stoney stroll through Golden Gate Park for one of the world’s biggest bands.

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said:
Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head

To understand more fully what Jim saw in Jefferson Airplane and Grace, in particular, check out this link to the band’s kick ass version of “White Rabbit” at Woodstock in 1969 and remember, as Jim would say, logic and proportion aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and then he’d crack himself up.

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