RIP: Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder & North Beach Regular

Photo: Christopher Michel/Flickr
By Nathan Falstreau - Published on January 29, 2016.

Paul Kantner, a San Francisco native and the co-founder of rock group Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday at age 74. The cause of death was multiple organ failure and septic shock after he suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, according to the Chronicle.

Founded in 1965, Jefferson Airplane was known for its pioneering psychedelic rock, which came to be known as the "San Francisco sound." Songs like “Somebody to Love,” “Today,” and “White Rabbit” became iconic hits of the '60s counterculture. The group lived in a mansion in the Upper Haight in the late '60s that became known for its epic parties. 

While Kantner was a famous rock star who performed at Woodstock and at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, he seemed most comfortable as an everyday San Franciscan. He was a regular at North Beach haunts like Caffe Trieste and The Saloon, and he told the Examiner in 2011 that the great thing about San Francisco is that “it’s a place where people aren’t comfortable with fame. If we really wanted to be famous, we would have to move to New York or Los Angeles. We couldn’t have been from any other place.”

Another famous Kantner line: “If you want to go crazy, go to San Francisco. Nobody will notice.” 

Kantner's death comes on the heels of the passing of two other notable North Beach characters and Trieste regulars: the colorful Roy Mottini and sketch artist Stuart "Stu" Jackson. His music and his gentle presence will be remembered by many. 

No funeral details have been announced, but we'll update as we learn more.

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