Grace Slick Biography

Grace Barnett Wing, 30 October 1939, Evanston, Illinois, USA. A former fashion model, Grace Slick began a career in music by contributing recorder and piano soundtracks to husband Jerry’s films. This experience was later enhanced by an interest in the nascent San Francisco rock scene and in August 1965 the couple formed the Great Society. This short-lived group combined melodic and experimental styles, but Grace quickly tired of their endearing amateurism, and joined Jefferson Airplane the following year, taking two renowned songs, ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’ with her. Slick’s powerful, distinctive voice established her as the unit’s focal point, as well as one of the era’s best-known figures. Now separated from her husband, Slick began a personal and professional relationship with band guitarist Paul Kantner. Together they recorded Blows Against The Empire (1970 - credited to Kantner), Sunfighter (1971) and Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (1973) which many commentators feel superior to concurrent Jefferson Airplane releases. Indeed commitment to such projects may have undermined the parent group, although Manhole, Slick’s experimental solo debut, boasted a largely idiosyncratic content. Dour and self-indulgent, the set’s disappointments were deflected by the formation of Jefferson Starship whom Slick fronted until 1978 when alcohol-related problems resulted in her departure.

Dreams nonetheless displayed a rekindled creativity and its success resulted in the singer rejoining her former colleagues in 1981. Slick maintained her own career with Welcome To The Wrecking Ball, but this heavy-handed collection merely reflected Jefferson Starship’s slide towards AOR rock, rather than assert an independence. Despite the release of Software, Slick became increasingly committed to the parent group, now known simply as Starship. They enjoyed a series of highly-successful releases, including three US chart toppers, ‘We Built This City’, ‘Sara’ and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, the latter of which also reached number 1 in Britain. However, internal dissent culminated in 1989 with Slick leaving the line-up for a second time. She has since maintained a relatively low profile, away from the music business and concentrates on her present career, exhibiting her drawings and paintings. Slick nonetheless remains a true maverick and one of the most charismatic and outspoken personalities to emerge from San Francisco’s ‘golden era’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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