Published on October 5th, 2021

Jefferson Starship keeps history and music alive

By Jim Dail

Throughout musical history, bands and artists who can adapt to new music and members and the changing times have had success over a great period of time.

When one talks about changes, few bands equal the variations of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship and Jefferson Starship again.

“Good music is good music,” said keyboardist/bassist David Freiberg of the group that will perform Sunday, Oct. 3 at the Belly-Up in Solana Beach.

The original band was a re-emergence of members of Jefferson Airplane, who released such notable songs as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” and other musicians to create a new band, Jefferson Starship, which would go on to have such hits as “Miracles,” “Count on Me,” and “Jane,” among others.

Like many of the time, Freiberg was into folk and then came the Beatles.

“I was more of a viola player, and before I finished high school, I switched to acting and singing more,” he said. “I was a folk singer, and never thought of a career in music until “Hard Day’s Night.’”

He was living in Venice, Ca., and he and Paul Kantner, the founder of Jefferson Airplane with Marty Balin, came up with the idea to be a folk duo.

“Folk was the thing, and I was hanging out with Paul and David Crosby and Roger McGuinn,” he said. “He was Jim McGuinn then and he was playing with, I think, Bobby Darin at the Troubadour.”

McGuinn and Crosby would form The Byrds, and Frieberg would go on to form Quicksilver Messenger Service.

“I had no idea I could be a musician,” he said. “When the spot opened up in Jefferson Airplane, I join their last tour.”

By that time, there were major cracks in the band.

“I could see they were pulling apart, and it was obvious from everything around,” he said. “Paul [Kantner] did a solo project, but just about everyone on Airplane played on it. Everyone was interested in doing their own thing, and I tried to pull it back together.”

They reformed as Jefferson Starship, truly hitting their stride with 1975’s “Red Octopus,” which featured the hit single “Miracles.”

“’Miracles’ brought Marty Balin back to the group,” he said. “He had written a song and sang on ‘Caroline,’ and he became a member of the group for ‘Red Octopus.’”

They knew ‘Miracles’ was special, and that’s Freiberg’s organ in the song.

“It was magic from the moment we did the track in the studio,” he said. “It was an obvious keeper. In fact, I think it is our top-ranked song for airplay.”

He credits the work ethic and true band togetherness in part for the brilliance of the song.

“Everybody worked on it together,” he said. “If you get a hit, most people in a band will think ‘I’m the reason this is becoming a hit.’ It is hard to avoid it. You have to realize it’s a part of everyone, and that’s what it was.”

The band followed with “Count on Me” and then “Jane,” which was more of a rock song.

“I wrote that song, and It was about my girlfriend,” he said. “Everyone called her Girl, and that fit the lyric. But I changed it to Jane, as in Jane Doe to protect the innocent.”

However, storms were soon on the horizon as the direction of the band shifted.

“Paul liked to write songs, and everyone seemed to want to go in the direction of a corporate band except a few of us,” he said. “That led to the ‘We Built This City,’ which was co-written with Bernie Taupin, and Paul and I left.”

Down the road, once again there would be a shift.

“A bunch of egos happened, and no one could get along with each other,” he said. “The band’s corporate entity was dissolved. Paul reformed it and asked me to sit in around 2005, and I sat in. It was fun, and I joined the tour and that was that.”

So now, the band continue to tour and nothing is off limits when it comes to the set lists.

“It really isn’t a separate entity because RCA Records made it impossible because they kept on putting out greatest albums that had Starship and Airplane,” he said. “We do all the songs, but of course we can mess with them a little, get a little creative.”

And it is not just the old classics, but music from the new record as well, “Mother of the Sun.”

“The first single is ‘It’s about Time,’ and Grace [Slick] was a co-writer on that one,” he said. “It’s the first new album in 12 years.”

And one thing is clear: it is a good vibe, both the new album and the band.

“This band really likes playing with each other,” he said. “People can tell if you like what you are doing and we do.”


When:  7 p.m., Sunday Oct. 3

Where: Belly-Up Tavern, 143 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach, CA 92075.

Information and tickets: 858-481-8140, or go to Web site


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