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Monday, 26 May 2014

Grace Slick's Festival Memories: Fearing Orgies and Getting Lit



During her tenure in Jefferson Airplane (and later Jefferson Starship and Starship), Grace Slick made history as one of the first women to front a rock & roll band. She also made a different kind of history as one of the few performers to appear at all three of rock's most famous and infamous festivals: the Monterey International Pop Festival, Woodstock and Altamont. (The Airplane even played the very first such gathering, 1967's Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival.)

45 years of festival fashion: look back at everything from Woodstock to EDC

Now 74, Slick left rock & roll in 1989 and has since devoted herself to art; she's painted over 500 pieces, which have been shown in hundreds of exhibits and have fetched as much as $25,000 each. (She'll be displaying and discussing her work at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where Slick lives, on June 17th.) As this year's festival season gets underway here and in Europe, Slick looks back at the first, often tumultuous era and how she survived it.

Before 1967, there were no rock festivals, so how did you and the Airplane feel when you were asked to play the first couple?
I had gone to some of the jazz festivals at Monterey, so I knew the venue. We were glad to play it. Monterey was so well run and everything pretty much that was offered in the booths was handmade, and you could get to a bathroom within less than nine hours. The entire area in back of the stage was people wandering around. There were drinks and marijuana and blow and whatever else everyone was interested in. Everything worked.

In terms of the other acts, how eye-opening was Monterey for you?
We had heard all of these people on record, but I'd never seen Ravi Shankar or the Who perform live. We were all on the side of the stage behind the black curtain, and we were just as excited as the audience. Hendrix was doing his hands with the flames like it was some kind of spiritual strange Creole thing, and it was just amazing to watch. Putting your guitar down and setting it on fire, we were like, "Whoa!"

I've always wondered: Did his guitar smell of smoke?
It didn't. The fire wasn't big enough to smell.


Read on...




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