Entertainment & Arts

Jefferson Airplane's original singer, Signe Anderson, dies aged 74

Cover for Jefferson Airplane Takes Off Image copyright RCA / BMG Heritage
Image caption Anderson was described as "giving an unusual quality" to Jefferson Airplane on the sleeve notes of their debut album

Signe Anderson, one of the original vocalists for Jefferson Airplane, has died at the age of 74.

The singer, who appeared only on the band's first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, died last Thursday - the same day as guitarist Paul Kantner.

"One sweet lady has passed on," wrote the rock group's co-founder Marty Balin on his Facebook page.

"I imagine that she and Paul woke up in heaven and said, 'Hey, what are you doing here? Let's start a band!'"

No cause of death was given for the singer, but former band mate Jack Casady said she had been receiving hospice care.

Image copyright Marty Balin / Facebook

Born in Seattle and raised in Portland, folk singer Signe Toly boarded Jefferson Airplane in 1965 at Balin's invitation.

She sang lead vocals on the songs Chauffeur Blues and Let's Get Together - a Chet Powers-penned track that later became a hit for the Youngbloods.

On the sleeve notes for the band's debut album, she was described as "a former folk singer", whose "high, strong voice gives an unusual quality to the ensemble">

But she quit the line-up after giving birth to her first child, having decided life on the road with a newborn was untenable.

But she stuck with Jefferson Airplane as they searched for a replacement, giving her last performance on 15 October, 1966.

A night later, her successor, Grace Slick, of Great Society, made her debut.

"Signe was one of the strongest people I have ever met," guitarist Jorma Kaukonen wrote on his blog.

"She was our den mother in the early days of the Airplane… a voice of reason on more occasions than one… an important member of our dysfunctional little family.

"I always looked forward to seeing her when we played the Aladdin in Portland.

"She never complained and was always a joy."

"I had been in touch with Signe this past week as she had moved from her home to hospice care," bassist Casady added on Facebook.

"She was a real sweetheart with a terrific contralto voice coming from a solid folk background.

"Listen to how she made the three-part harmonies of JA Takes Off (first album) sound so thick... her wonderful tone between Paul's and Marty's.

"A sad day… for those of us still here."

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