I remember about five years ago, Jefferson Airplane/Starship singer Grace Slick was at a gallery in La Jolla selling paintings.

One fan with the classic “Surrealistic Pillow” album (Somebody to Love, White Rabbit), one of the top five albums to come out that year (a year that included The Doors and Jimi Hendrix debuts, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper, Cream's Disraelli Gears, and Love's Forever Changes).

The fan with the album wanted an autograph but was told by security that Slick wasn't signing autographs, unless you bought a painting. He was still able to approach her, and talk about a show he saw at the Fillmore back in the 60s. Slick laughed, as she tried to recall the memory.

I found out she is showing her artwork at galleries again, after a recent stay in the hospital for six months. I asked her if anyone asked her for a signature while she was recovering. She laughed and said, “God, no! I was in a self-enduced coma for two months. I had to learn how to walk again, because when you’re down for that long, you forget things like that. It’s one of the reasons I keep bugging my daughter to get health insurance. All that would’ve cost me millions. Hopefully Obama will take care of that.”

When I tell her about a time Mel Gibson was bugged for an autograph at a urinal in movie theater in Mission Valley, she said “I had one guy follow me into the bathroom to take a picture. I was in the stall, and figured I’d really give him something. I took my top off, and opened the stall door and said ‘Take your picture’. And it ended up in Creem Magazine. I didn’t care. They still looked good then.”

I tell her one of her paintings of Morrison looked scary, and mention her brief affair with him. She said, “That was called Morphius, who was the god of sleep. And a junkie, among other things. Jim was like him in a lot of ways. He’d experiment with drugs, trying to expand his mind.”

We talk about drugs, how marijuana should be legalized, and how her ex-husband and former bandmate Paul Katner, “…did a lot of coke. But he ordered it sealed from a pharmacy in Germany. Once our daughter was born, he decided it was a good idea to stop. He also said it was starting to get chopped up with other stuff. Once, David Crosby and I got a large amount, and we asked him to check it out. He could tell just by smelling it, if it was good. He said, ‘This isn’t cocaine.’ It ended up being Ridilin, and David and I were up at 4:00 a.m. convinced we were going to have heart attacks.”

She tells me she has little sympathy for entertainers that claim they got into drugs because they’re unhappy, or had bad things happened to them, saying “Everyone has.”

I ask if she had any paintings that didn’t turn out the way she wanted. She said, “Janis Joplin was hard to get, mainly because of her facial features. The body was easy to draw. And I kind of know what it feels like to sing on stage, unlike that corny crap Celine Dion does, where she points to her heart as she sings. Or Whitney Houston. I was at a Grammy rehearsel, and she just belted out this song, singing her ass off. I couldn’t believe she did that just standing there in her heels, without moving.”

We talk about other female singers, and Slick mentions Mariah Carey having a great voice but “dumb ass lyrics.” I agree on all her takes.

Slick tells me she lives next to a female singer that was a trained opera singer. I say, "Pat Benatar?" and she replies "How did you know she lived near me?" I explain that I didn't. I just knew she could sing opera. She tells me a story about her and her singing voice.

I feel foolish when I ask her why she’s never done an album cover since she’s an artist. She says, “I did an album cover for something Paul and I did together. And a solo album called ‘Man Hole.’ That was a bit controversial at the time. Usually the album covers were photos.”

I try thinking of what movies used her songs, and I think of Forrest Gump and the dark comedy The Cable Guy. I ask her what she thought of Jim Carey belting out Somebody to Love on Karaoke. Slick laughs and says, “I didn’t know that was going to be in the movie. When I saw it, I loved it. He really nailed those parts perfectly. Obviously, he’s going over the top with it, but still.”

You can meet Grace Slick, where she’s selling some of her artwork (including a 40th Anniversary painting of Woodstock). She’ll be at the Wentworth Gallery in La Jolla March 28th from 6 to 9:00 p.m. and 29th, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. The event is free, at 1025 Prospect in La Jolla.

You might not get your Volunteers album signed, but you can at least talk to a rock n' roll hall of famer for a few minutes. And if you have the money, buy that Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship fan on your list a gift you know they'll love. A signed painting from one of the 60s best voices.


bluenwhitegokart March 29, 2009 @ 5:01 a.m.

Where's Josh? What did you do with him?

That was one of the best "Crashers" you've ever written.


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