Skip to content

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

January 24, 2018

[Album 591/1001]

“And You’d Have to Be Here to Believe It!”
– The Hall of Famer Mike Lange, whenever somebody on the Pittsburgh Penguins does something particularly impressive

I’m guessing with much of my beloved 90s music, if you weren’t ‘there’ at the time, decades later, the magic may get lost in translation.

Which is probably part of what’s happening with Surrealistic Pillow for me.220px-Jeffair

I don’t mind it; but I think if I’d been ‘there’ at the time, I would have been more invested than I was as a new listener, 50+ years later.

However, even if their music was agreeable if not fascinating, I found myself fascinated with whatever legal disagreements led to the band name evolution from Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Starship – Starship.

Who had to be ‘there’ for the band to be Jefferson Airplane?

Who had to leave ‘there’ for the band to keep the Jefferson, yet necessitate an upgrade in the mode of transport to Starship?

And finally, who stayed ‘there’ that meant Starship would remain, sans Jefferson?

In my study, I took the wikipedia personnel from this Jefferson Airplane album and from the debut albums by both Jefferson Starship and Starship.

Can you guess which member goes in which group(s)?

Hint: only one member appears in all three!


Untitled presentation (8)


Untitled presentation (9)


Untitled presentation (10)


Untitled presentation (12)


Verbalize the Positive

A tip of the hat to a pair of Mikes for inspiring this post – to the aforementioned Mike Lange for his inimitable delivery & to Mike Myers for his brilliant “Dick York, Dick Sargent, Sargeant York” quote from Wayne’s World!


From → 1960s

  1. I reckon some 50 yo albums hold up pretty well, and for me (at least), this is one.

    Here’s a link to the piece I did for last year’s 1967 series…

    • I remember that series fondly Bruce – though I don’t specifically remember this review, I’ll have to revisit, perhaps to learn a bit about what I missed this time around!

  2. Doesn’t Marty Balin do the crossover to Starship at times?

    I love this and the first album, the others offer diminishing returns but are still good.

    • He certainly may – he wasn’t in the main personnel list for the first album that I saw, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they crossed paths again.
      And I sincerely hope he did because that would fill in the missing Venn Diagram section of Jefferson Airplane + Starship but not Jefferson Starship!

      • He was in them 75-78 and 93-2008, there is a whole wikipedia page

      • My goodness, whoever made that page (and the JA & Starship pages) that must have been quite the endeavour to figure out all those timelines!

  3. I have this one added to my Apple Music library, but I still haven’t listened to it despite feeling inspired to do so following Bruce’s post early last year!

    • It may have been the right album at the wrong time for me – I certainly didn’t despise it, I just couldn’t escape into the album.
      I’ll have to re-read Bruce’s post for some of that inspiration!

      • I’ve certainly had experiences like that – perhaps it’s one to put aside and revisit in a few months.

  4. jprobichaud permalink

    I always found it bizarre that the group that did White Rabbit somehow morphed into the group that did We Built This City. I always meant to try to figure it out and listen to the different configurations to see how that odd evolution worked but haven’t yet to this day.

  5. I have always been curious about the name changes, the band member chart explains a lot. Great idea!!

    • My thanks – it helped me sort through what was going on, I appreciate that it helped you too!

  6. The names always confused me too, though I did appreciate this album a lot.

    • And I may appreciate it more on a revisit – I read a fabulous book earlier this month I think you might like (Dreaming the Beatles by Rob Sheffield). He was talking about some Beatle ’67 recordings were starting to become a ‘had to be there’ to get the magic (I disagree!), and that’s the sort of feeling I was left with when listening to this ’67 release.

      • That annoys me too! I was watching a Kinks documentary, and a critic said the same. It’s only because it is in the immediate past that they can qualify their experience as more authentic. Nobody can say the same with say, Mozart! The whole point of a classic is that it is timeless. It is fresh because it is new to you, and lasting because it is good.

  7. Basically, after Airplane (by the way, named for Thomas Jefferson Airplane, the name of a dog supposed to be a rendition of old-blues-man names like Blind Lemon Jefferson) Kantner and Slick went on to form Jefferson Starship, while Starship had just Slick from the original airplane. But I think there was also a band consisting of some of the musicians but neither Kantner nor Slick, sort of like “The Manfreds” which are former members of Manfred Mann(‘s Earth Band—also an interesting series of names, for both bands and people) but without the Mann himself.

  8. I see what you mean. Like most American music: even if it’s basically OK, the British stuff from the same time is much better.

  9. I did see Kantner in my series of not-a-fan-but-want-to-see-them-before-they-die concerts with the then current incarnation of the band. I was presently surprised. A few old hands were there. And, a few months later, Kantner was dead. (The original singer, Signe Anderson, died on the same day. She was married to one of the Merry Pranksters.) Something similar happened with Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream (not the Merry Pranksters, but death shortly after I saw the concert).

  10. The most interesting of the bunch was probably Papa John Creach. Why Papa? Because he was in his 1950s when playing with Jefferson Starship, and that was old for a rock musician back then. He was born in 1919, which is probably earlier than any other “rock” musician. Creach played on cruise ships for years in the 1940s. He’s one of those guys who has probably

    As for the oldest performing “rock” musician, that title probably goes to John Mayall, who will be 85 this year. Back when Clapton was playing with him, more than 50 years ago, he was already considered to be old—in his early 30s.

  11. “I always found it bizarre that the group that did White Rabbit somehow morphed into the group that did We Built This City.”

    Well, how about “Please please me” to “Revolution #9”? In just 5 years! Or “Time Table” to “Invisible Touch”? Or “Albatross” to “You Make Loving Fun”?

  12. I knew it was gonna be Grace Slick! Nice sorting charts, though. Man, you are the master of the diagrams!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1967 | 1001albumsin10years

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: