Jefferson Starship cruises to Valentine TheatreWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
David Freiberg climbed aboard Jefferson Airplane in 1972. The bass player and singer was excited, but it turned out to be the band’s final flight.
“It was a wee bit nuts because you could tell that Paul [Kantner] and Grace [Slick] and Jorma [Kaukonen] and Jack [Casady] weren’t getting along; they just kind of looked like they were tolerating each other for the tour,” Freiberg said. “We were trying to hold it together, and it was fun.
“But then when the tour was over and here I was in Jefferson Airplane and nothing was happening, and I’d be getting my paycheck wondering: What’s going on? When are we going out to play? Are we going to make a record? Nothing ever happened.”
Kantner, a co-founder of Jefferson Airplane, decided to assemble a new crew. In 1974, Jefferson Starship launched.
“I was surprised that Marty [Balin] came back. I thought that was interesting because I was officially there to replace Marty because he was gone, that’s why I got hired on as a harmony singer mostly and a sometimes lead singer. But then Marty came back, so I decided I’d better concentrate on playing stuff,” Freiberg joked.
“And [Balin] wrote some great songs, and we lucked out a lot and had some really good stuff.”
Jefferson Starship zipped along in the mid-1970s, thanks to “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count on Me” and “Runaway.”
“Then Marty left and Grace left after 1978,” Freiberg recalled during a phone interview from his studio in Novato, Calif. “And I had written this song called ‘Jane,’ and we were looking for another singer to replace at least Marty and/or Grace. And it seemed like every singer that came in we had them sing ‘Jane’ and whoever sang ‘Jane’ best would probably get the gig.
“And Mickey Thomas definitely sang it best — although I sing it now,” the songwriter said and laughed.
With Thomas on board, Jefferson Starship landed on the charts with “Jane” in 1979 and “Find Your Way Back” in 1980.
“Right before ‘We Built This City,’ right before it changed to Starship, Paul [Kantner] and I both left,” Freiberg said. “Nobody in the band was writing the songs; they were being brought in and being completely produced, and it wasn’t what I did. So it was obvious that I had to leave.”
For two decades, Freiberg, who was an original member of Quicksilver Messenger Service, concentrated on computers and creating a studio.
Guitarist Kantner started Jefferson Starship — The Next Generation in 1992.
“In 2005, Paul asked me to come and sit in on a song or two at a local gig, and I did and it was fun,” Freiberg said. “He asked me to go on a tour, and I did, and I’ve been doing it ever since, so that’s like seven years now. And I’m having more fun than I ever did.”
Freiberg attributed the group’s long flight to good fortune: “The right person always seems to come along,” he said. “For our last studio album [2008’s ‘Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty’], that’s when our new singer came on, Cathy Richardson, who’s one of the greatest voices I’ve ever heard.”
Jefferson Starship — Kantner, Freiberg, Richardson, guitarist Mark Aguilar, keyboardist Chris Smith and drummer Donny Baldwin — will play at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Valentine Theatre. Tickets for the theater fundraiser, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and includes dinner, cocktails and the concert, are $150. To attend just the show, seats are $45 and $35.
“We play Jefferson Airplane songs, Jefferson Starship songs; we won’t play ‘We Built This City,’ ” Freiberg said and laughed. “That’s not us.”