Grace Slick’s Polar Opposite: The Original Jefferson Airplane Vocalist

The journey of a band from the early days of getting in the music scene to what later becomes of the same act with lineup changes and how its career in the industry shapes up differs for every group of musicians, and each one has a unique story of how they reach their final destination.

In the case of Jefferson Airplane, their story began when founder Marty Balin heard Signe Toly Anderson with her jazzy and folk sound in one of her performances. Soon after, he invited her to be a part of the band as the original female lead vocalist.

After getting acquainted with everyone, she became the voice behind their 1966 debut album ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,’ and stood out with the ‘Chauffeur Blues’ track. As time passed, Anderson had doubts about their original manager Matthew Katz. The singer didn’t trust him and didn’t think he had the best intentions for her and the band’s well-being.

So, she ultimately refused to sign a contract with Katz until he inserted a special escape clause freeing her from him if she left the band for any reason. At the time, Anderson had gotten married and had a baby, so a short while after the debut album, she decided to quit the band after a series of shows they played in Chicago.

When one of her bandmates wanted her to stick around a bit longer until they found a lead singer good enough to fill her place moving forward, she agreed and decided to stay with the band through the October shows at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Signe’s decision to leave was a hard goodbye for everyone in the band as they worked great together, but life had other plans for Jefferson Airplane moving forward.

Eventually, through trial and error, they finally landed on Grace Slick; she was everything the band was looking for in a frontwoman. The transition was hard, of course, for the band and the fans, but it was smoother than expected as fans got on board with their choice of a new lead singer.

Anderson had a more traditional voice, while Slick brought a more unique sound that was not only captivating but also had a lot of innovation that the fans hadn’t heard from the band before changing their lead vocalist. She pushed everyone in the band to keep up with her sound, and everyone had to evolve, resulting in a successful collaboration.

As Grace kept being daring with her style, with chord changes or odd chords even with her piano playing, she quickly became the face of the band and heightened the band’s place in the music industry. She was so beloved that by the end, everyone applauded her for carrying Jefferson Airplane to so much success and fame.

Although Grace Slick turned out the best fit for the band, it wouldn’t have gotten to this point if Signe Anderson hadn’t given her best shot from the get-go when Jefferson Airplane released their debut album. So, each member who comes and leaves is a part of the band’s legacy with their notable contributions.