Jefferson Airplane singer recalls his first experiences Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont
While at Jefferson Airplane (later Jefferson Starship and Starship), Grace Slick made history as one of the first women to front a rock & roll. She also made a different kind of history as one of the few artists to appear on the three most famous and infamous rock festivals: Monterey International Pop Festival, Woodstock and Altamont. (The plane even played the first game of this type, 1,967 of Fantasy Fair and Music Festival Magic Mountain.)
45 years of festival fashion : look back on everything from Woodstock EDC
Now 74, Slick Rock left & roll in 1989 and has since devoted himself to art ; she has painted more than 500 pieces , which have been shown in hundreds of exhibitions and exaggerated as much as $ 25,000 each . (She’ll be showing and talking about his work at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where Slick lives, June 17.) As the festival season this year starts here and in Europe, Slick looks back in the early days, often tumultuous and how she survived.
Before 1967, there were no rock festivals, so how you and the plane will feel when he was asked to play the first couple?
I had gone to some of the Monterey jazz festivals, so I knew the place. Good to play. Monterrey was so well run and pretty much everything that was offered in the booths was handmade, and you can get to a bathroom in less than nine hours. The whole area in the rear of the stage was wandering people. There were drinks and marijuana and hit and everyone was interested in. Everything worked.
As for the other acts, tellingly Monterey was for you?
We had heard all these people on the record, but I had never seen or Ravi Shankar who performs lives. We were all on the side of the stage behind the black curtain, and we were as excited as the audience. Hendrix was doing his hands with flames like a strange kind of spiritual Creole, and it was just amazing to watch. Put down your guitar and set it on fire, we were like, "Whoa!”
I've always wondered: Does the smell of smoke from the guitar?
He did not. The fire was not large enough to smell.
And what about the Who?
We knew that things were going to break. Guitarists of our group were shrinking, since we have that kind of money [to replace instruments]. But I thought it was wonderful. I do not own any of the machinery.
Everyone keeps talking about Otis Redding.
I had never seen before Otis either. I thought the stage was going to fall in when stepped on his foot. It was not so much pressure on stage, it was the power of his personality and the power of the songs and joining his band.
So Monterey was a good experience for you, compared to the festivals that followed.
Oh, yes. We were all excited about Woodstock. Thought it would be a version of the east coast of Monterey. In this country, we tend to admire big. Half a million people -Ooh! Then Joni [Mitchell] wrote: “We are stardust / we are golden “and shit. I love Joni, but I did not exactly have the same opinion about it - I thought, “This is great but it is very run down.” We were supposed to go on stage at 9pm.
Helicopters had to come to us because the roads were so fucked up that you could take a car. The helicopter arrived at the hotel and took whatever the band was going in half an hour. So we left around 8:30 and kept changing things. They said. “Cannot we go at the time “We were on stage all night? I do not remember going to the bathroom or want. We were smoking dope and drinking wine and sitting around. It was a very big step. Then ten came and told me: “You’re playing in an hour.” Then we played something like 7am. It was light. Rock & roll is not playing at 7 in the morning!