Grace Slick, Jefferson Airplane Diva, Recalls SF’s Summer Of Love
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Grace Slick was the queen of rock. She and the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” – the anthem of the acid rock era. That’s a notion Slick says “sounds weird.”
“Weird” to the now 73-year-old Grace Slick because it still surprises her how big the song became. Her inspiration for “White Rabbit” was “Alice in Wonderland” and composer Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” which is a Spanish march.
“It isn’t even rock ‘n’ roll,” she says. “And when RCA made a single out of it I thought that’s just amazing. And the thing sold and I thought ‘wow’ there’s a lot more screwballs than I thought there were.”
Slick now lives a quiet life in Malibu. A medical condition causes pain if she stands longer than 10 minutes at a time.
So she paints – white rabbits, of course. It’s a long way from those drug- and alcohol-fueled days during and after San Francisco’s famous Summer of Love.
But her life still rocks.
“I was built for rock ‘n’ roll because I have a very loud voice,” she says, “I could never sing lullabies to my daughter when she was a baby because I can’t sing softly.”
She didn’t speak softly when it came to politics, either.
In the 1970s, Slick got an invitation to a White House tea party for Finch College alumnae. Her date was political activist Abbie Hoffman and she brought LSD with her — planning to spike President Nixon’s cup while she talked to him.
“He would have been talking about the walls melting. We just laughed just thinking about it.”
It never happened. White House security spotted her in line and despite her invitation, she never got passed the gate.
In 1968 the band bought a mansion right across from Golden Gate Park and not far from the Haight. They painted it black and it was the place to be. The parties were legendary.
And then some. “I almost shot David Crosby in there,” Slick remembered. Someone broke into the house, so Slick got a gun that was hidden in bandmate Paul Kantner’s room.
“I was sitting on Paul’s bed, I heard footsteps and I got the gun pointed at the bedroom door and David Crosby walks in and looks at me and says, ‘good girl!’ I said, good girl. I almost shot you.”
Today art in any form, like writing or painting, is her life. But no more singing with a band.
“No. I don’t like old people flapping their wrinkles around on stage.”
She now indulges her obsession with Alice and the white rabbit in her paintings. The collection is on display at the San Francisco Art Exchange. Her favorite of the moment — a painting that depicts Alice, the rabbit, the queen and the Mad Hatter. It has a political statement. The rabbit is fighting the queen, who’s a metaphor for government and coporate powers.
“Alice is amused by him,” Slick said, “and she knows nothing’s going to happen but she likes that he’s doing it.”
Slick admits in real life she is Alice.
Slick has battled alcohol but she says she’s been sober for 16 years and she doesn’t use LSD anymore.
“No, but if Roher made quaaludes again that’s the only drug I’d do. I don’t take any so-called fun drugs ’cause I’m not good at it.”
So don’t call her the “Acid Queen” anymore.
“No, you can’t. Nobody does anyway. Acid tongue maybe. But not queen!” she laughed.
Just ask Alice. She knows.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)