This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of Jefferson Airplane, one of the defining groups of the 1960s psychedelic music scene. While the band broke up in 1972 and hasn't performed in concert since its 1989 reunion tour, many fans hold out hope that the surviving members might consider playing together again to mark the occasion.
Founding Airplane lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen says he understands fans' desire to want to see the group rock out again, but since singer Grace Slick retired from performing live long ago and since he also isn't too keen about mounting a reunion trek, he maintains that it's "not gonna happen."
However, Kaukonen says he does have an idea for a 50th anniversary reunion event that all the band members could take part in without necessarily having to perform.
"Grace doesn't sing anymore, but all of us…love to blab," he points out. "And so I can see, instead of trying to recreate...a musical event that happened half a century ago, [it would be cool] to have us sit around on a stage, maybe some of us with acoustic guitars, talk about the process, talk about what we did, where we were [and where] we came from, the experience."
He adds, "Given the characters and the way we like to talk, I think it would be a great little show."
Kaukonen admits that the idea "is just my dream," noting, "I don't know if the other guys share it or not. We really haven't gotten into it."
Elaborating about his own reasons why he's not interested in a reunion tour, he said, "The Airplane was such an interesting band because the magic that happened, especially live, was the interaction between this disparate group of characters that somehow managed to get together, rehearse relentlessly and stay together for seven years as a band. And, in my opinion…it's like your first kiss, you know, you just can't reproduce that kind of stuff."
Meanwhile, Kaukonen says he's glad that he recently ended a feud he'd been having with Jefferson Airplane singer/guitarist Paul Kantner, who for decades has fronted the Airplane spinoff group Jefferson Starship. Jorma points out, "I mean, since none of us ever really screwed each other, if you can't be friends with your old friends, who can you be friends with?" Kantner, incidentally, is now recovering from a recent heart attack.
Kaukonen, meanwhile, continues to perform as a solo artist and as half of the popular folk-blues duo Hot Tuna with his close friend and original Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady. It recently was announced that Jorma, Jack and some special guests will be commemorating the Airplane's 50th anniversary during a September 11 set at the 2015 Lockn' Festival in Arrington, Virginia.
Kaukonen's tour schedule includes solo dates in support of his new album, Ain't in No Hurry, and plenty of Hot Tuna shows with both electric and acoustic incarnations of the group. You can check out his whole itinerary at JormaKaukonen.com.
Check out VintageRock.com's 2010 interview with Jorma Kaukonen below.