Friday, January 14, 2005

PSYCHEDELOBIT: The former drummer with Jefferson Airplane, Spencer Dryden, has died. He was 66, and had been fighting colon cancer for some time.

Although his heart was in jazz, he had been working as strip club drummer, providing the beats for the beating off, when approached to replace Skip Spence on the tiny little stool for Jefferson Airplane. Spence had quit to go on a musical journey which would eventually see him form Moby Grape. He was with band from 1966 through to 1970, playing on Somebody to Love and White Rabbit, and was with the Airplane during their Woodstock appearance. The band continued after his departure, morphing into Jefferson Starship and then Starship, before their reign of terror was to stop.

While Airplane did their worst, Dryden drifted from project to project: first the Greatful Dead's hobbyesque New Riders of the Purple Sage and later with a hotch-pot of Country Joe's Fish, Big Brother and Quicksilver Messenger members in Dinosaurs in the 80s.

In 2003, Spencer's home and belongings were wiped out in a house fire, and last year Bob Weir of the Dead and Warren Haynes from Gov't Mule played a benefit gig which raised the money to give him a pair of new hips.

Although Dryden sat out the 1989 Jefferson Airplane reunion, he did meet up with his ex-bandmates for their 1996 Hall of Fame induction and was with them again to mark the release of the Airplane DVD.

Apparently some sort of half-nephew of Charlie Chaplin, Dryden married three times, and is survived by two sons, Jessie and Jackson. (We're not sure if they're old enough for this to have been stunt naming.)

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