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Paul Kantner, founding member of Jefferson Airplane, dead at 74

By Shawn Price   |   Jan. 29, 2016 at 5:39 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Paul Kantner, co-founder of legendary rock group Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday. He was 74.

Kantner suffered a heart attack earlier this week, leading to organ failures and septic shock, his son Gareth said. He died Thursday afternoon with his wife and children around him, the son said.

Kanter, born in San Francisco in 1941, formed the band with Marty Balin, Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen in 1965 where they quickly put up hits like "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love." They played Woodstock and even the infamous Altamount Fesitval, where Kantner confronted one of the Hell's Angels onstage after the biker had beaten up a band member.

He helped rename the band Jefferson Starship in the 1970s but left when they turned in to pop hit machine in the 1980s. The band -- as Jefferson Airplane -- was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

"Paul was the catalyst that brought the whole thing together," Kaukonen told the New York Times. "The band would not have been what it was without him."

Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said Kantner was, "a key architect in the development of what became known as the San Francisco Sound."

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