Paul Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday of multiple organ failure, his publicist told the San Francisco Chronicle. He was 74.
Kantner had suffered a heart attack in 2015.
Kantner, a folk musician, formed Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco in 1965 with singer Marty Balin and the band pioneered the psychedelic sound by fusing folk with rock music. The Airplane became the first San Francisco rock group of that era to achieve mainstream success.
Jefferson Airplane's debut show was on Aug. 13, 1965 at San Francisco's The Matrix nightclub, which Balin had converted into a club from a pizza parlor. Their first album "The Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" was released a year later.
In 1966, singer Grace Slick replaced Signe Toly Anderson, who had left to start a family. Slick's addition to the band gave the group a defining sound and their second record album "Surrealistic Pillow" -- released in February, 1967 -- became a major success during the "Summer of Love" with the hit songs "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" and memorable tracks such as "She Has Funny Cars," "Embryonic Journey" and "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds."
Kantner was a singer and guitarist in the group's most notable lineup with singers Slick and Marty Balin along with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Spencer Dryden and bass player Jack Casady. The Airplane was the first headliner booked by Bill Graham when he opened the iconic Fillmore Auditorium.
The band played at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park and the Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont festivals. Balin was knocked unconscious by a Hell's Angel at Altamont.
Kantner and Slick transformed the band into Jefferson Starship in the early 1970s while Kaukonen and Casady formed Hot Tuna after the Airplane was beset by internal discord.
The Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Kantner is survived by sons Gareth and Alexander and daughter China. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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