Home > Diary, Set Lists, Thoughts > A Big Thanks To David Neely And Some Grammy Thoughts

A Big Thanks To David Neely And Some Grammy Thoughts

The scene of the crime

The scene of the crime

My new ES-345 needed a little bit of tweaking and Myron didn’t have his tools with him. He found David Neely Guitars who spiffed it up in the blink of an eye!..Thanks David!

Now, Vanessa is part of, or whatever the right word is, a Jefferson Airplane fan site and there has been some discussion about the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony and the selection of songs. I was accused of trying to ‘rewrite’ Jefferson Airplane history in terms of Jorma and Jack Hot Tuna World. Because I have a proclivity for being a wise ass… my first thought was, “What’s it to you?’ But since over the years I have learned to try to exercise restraint of tongue and pen… when given a moment of quiet reflection I do understand how deep people’s feelings may run where good old Jefferson Airplane is concerned. First of all, obviously the JA part of the show was the most important part for us. In the total scheme of things we were just one of the many. That’s all right. My pals and I have been traditionally outsiders for all of our professional life. That I was actually able to garner a Grammy nomination in 2003 in the now defunct Traditional Folk category was a fluke of confluence and will probably never be repeated. Anyway, to be honored by one’s peers is an honor I could have never imagined and I think my Airplane brothers and sisters feel the same way… although I would never deign to speak for anyone other than myself.

We were given eight minutes of music and ninety seconds of acceptance speech for everyone including Spencer and Paul’s surviving children. We obviously needed a Grace song so we picked Somebody To Love. That song and White Rabbit were instrumental in our getting into the R & R Hall Of Fame. The second song we picked was Marty singing Volunteers. It’s an Airplane anthem… and we could jam out on it. At the very last minute… and I mean the very last minute… Marty informed us that he would not be able to make it. I later found out it was doctors orders. Now as the surviving members of the almost original band, we spoke to Don Was who was in contact with the shows producers and we all agreed on Embryonic Journey (all two minutes of it) and Come Back Baby. Embryonic Journey was on Surrealistic Pillow and Come Back Baby which was written by blues pianist Walter Davis in 1940 can be found on a couple JA albums. Well… Jack and Grace and I all agreed that under the circumstances a living member (me) who still played and sang should do one of their own tunes… hence the choice.

Now this is all going to be a PBS Special… and the performances will live, if not forever, for a very long time. I wasn’t going to do Feel So Good… I would play it in concert but not for posterity… I can’t hit those high notes anymore. So be it. Well… it was our award and that’s what we did.

I know some fans like Paul, some like Marty, some Grace… well you get what I’m saying. That’s all good. We all appreciate that. Remember though that we were all band members. Jack and Spencer and I were not side men… I repeat… we were all equal members. That was one of our enduring strengths. Regardless of how the ‘public’ perceived us there were no ‘front’ men. A little tough for the industry to understand but, oh well.

I was so fortunate to be able to rekindle my friendship with Paul Kantner last year. We enjoyed each other’s company… and at the end of the day, were old and dear friends. As Connie Caldor said in her great song Chinatown, ‘Life is a thin thread, it’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed… it’s all the things you left unsaid… life is a thin thread.’

We left little unsaid.

So… speaking for myself, I appreciate being appreciated on any level. If you like us, or me on any level… bless you. If not, oh well.

Last but not least… we did the best we could with what we had and that’s all we got.

Driving on…


Categories: Diary, Set Lists, Thoughts Tags:
  1. Larry
    April 30th, 2016 at 16:37 | #1

    Doctor’s orders? Hope Marty is Ok. I’m a fan of all 6 of you. In other words, the Airplane and all its parts. Be well.

  2. Steve
    April 30th, 2016 at 17:06 | #2

    Well said Jorma-you gotta do what ya gotta do….I don’t think a lot of people know Come Back Baby was in the JA repitoire way back when…

  3. Barbara Jacobs
    April 30th, 2016 at 18:08 | #3

    Eight minutes of this and 90 seconds of that.
    That’s the way those Award shows are produced. All of them.
    If anybody thinks that Jorma had the power over the producer and director,
    to plan his own appearance, they are very wrong. That’s show-biz.

  4. Dan
    April 30th, 2016 at 18:19 | #4

    No explanation needed Capt.
    Thx for the explanation Capt.

  5. jim hitchcock
    April 30th, 2016 at 19:13 | #5

    Steve Miller agrees.@Barbara Jacobs

  6. Lori
    April 30th, 2016 at 20:03 | #6

    This is alittle off track but wanted to convey hoe much I enjoy reading your blog and back in the day I always wondered why your music hardly made the FM channels. Thank goodness for Sirius radio and the deep tracks ! PS :
    Thanks for adding “the egg” to your tour this year. See you then!

  7. John B
    April 30th, 2016 at 20:03 | #7

    Out of all your splendid accomplishments count the ” restraint” of the tongue and the pen as two of the most important.

  8. Lori
    April 30th, 2016 at 20:04 | #8

    Lori :
    This is alittle off track but wanted to convey how much I enjoy reading your blog and back in the day I always wondered why your music hardly made the FM channels. Thank goodness for Sirius radio and the deep tracks ! PS :
    Thanks for adding “the egg” to your tour this year. See you then!

  9. Kevin
    April 30th, 2016 at 21:26 | #9

    Very well stated, as always.

  10. Susan Wheeler
    April 30th, 2016 at 22:03 | #10

    Congratulations to all JA members! Looking forward to the PBS special……Just curious- you’ve been open about having rekindled your friendship with Paul last year. Did that happen after your respective bands played the Great South Bay music festival on Long Island?

  11. SALLY
    April 30th, 2016 at 22:09 | #11

    From someone who thoroughly enjoyed many of your free speedway Meadows concerts, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that you, jack, or spencer were sidemen. You were the backbone of the band I see Tuna every chance I get. You chose not to do commercial rock and we appreciate your decision. Keep on rockin and congratulations it is well deserved.

  12. Joey Hudoklin
    May 1st, 2016 at 01:34 | #12

    Forgive me, but from my perspective, Jorma & Jack drove the engines of the Airplane.
    I completely appreciate your statement that you were all equals in the mix.
    Thank God for Jefferson Airplane which gave birth to Hot Tuna.
    I’ll keep looking for some west coast dates.
    I see the window in your schedule. I’ll always be there.
    So happy for the blessings.

  13. May 1st, 2016 at 08:39 | #13

    Hi Susan… nope… it happened a year or so before in San Francisco… I took Paul out to dinner at the Mifune at the Kintetsu Center in Japan Town on Post Street. I remember the evening fondly…

  14. Ham n Eggs
    May 1st, 2016 at 08:50 | #14

    @Joey Hudoklin
    I loved the interview that was posted in the last blog. Jack talks at length about equal in the mix – the ability to be free. Jorma mentioned at one point Mr Graham suggesting uniforms and Jorma mentions Paul Revere and the Raiders. How great for Airplane prosperity it would have been if you did “Indian Reservation ” ( Cherokee People) instead of Somebody to Love. I look forward to the epic jamming of Indian Reservation into Ringo that will become firmly ensconced in the Tuna Repertoire for hopefully years to come.
    Vanessa thank you for husband’s back and Jorma when in doubt remember “Yes dear”- it’s a wonderful life you guys seem to have.
    Love All Ways

  15. cindy
    May 1st, 2016 at 10:36 | #15

    Well said. And i love all the music.

  16. John R.
    May 1st, 2016 at 10:58 | #16

    A Lifetime Achievement Award, and you still have to put up with such nonsense. What were you supposed to do, select a “classic” JA number and then play your guitar parts and sing Grace’s, Marty’s, and Paul’s parts as well? As usual, Jorma, your response is spot on.

  17. DennisK
    May 1st, 2016 at 11:07 | #17

    Will Marty or the NRPs be hanging around the Art and Minds fest? I would love to meet them and introduce the kids? I’m taking my daughter on a college tour and we are looking at O.U. in Athens, the same weekend.

  18. Tom in St. Louis
    May 1st, 2016 at 13:05 | #18

    I can’t help thinking this should have happened a long time ago.
    Marty and Paul would have been there…maybe even Spencer, if it had been in 2004 or so.
    Sad that Grace can’t or won’t sing any more, but that’s the reality.

    Those were some wild times.

  19. Jeff Hagen
    May 1st, 2016 at 14:59 | #19

    Jorma thanks for your kind words. You did not need to condescend to answer the mild complaints of a few. Yeah, we are a bunch of big time Paul fans “over there” but almost all of us are also huge Tuna fans and Jefferson Airplane is the binding dna for all of us. Your patient explanation of the choice made is extremely well received and understood. Many of us are still suffering a load of grief over PK’s passing that has yet to be resolved, so yeah we want to hear his music performed, however Paul’s music is not necessarily yours and that is very easy to grok. Your reconciliation with him and your very kind words in this space days after his passing, bring me great joy. Hot Tuna is a living a breathing apparition, not an artifact of days gone by. Your legacy as a member of the greatest American rock band is important in many ways and finally, the Grammy’s (often a dispenser if trash popular music) mt least was willing to recognize your collective contributions. We will be awaiting the actual viewing of this brief appearance on PBS and will tune in with joy. I cannot say there will not be further trashing of the show even for the brevity of your appearance or song choices, but that would be a small minority. You know “some people’s children” Thank you!

  20. Barbara Jacobs
    May 1st, 2016 at 16:02 | #20

    Congrats to Zach !@Jorma

  21. Barbara Jacobs
    May 1st, 2016 at 16:11 | #21

    Yeah, the thought of Jorma walking into the Awards show, throwing his Tuna around…
    Who will still complain? About Jorma? About the structure of Awards shows?@Jeff Hagen

  22. DennisK
    May 1st, 2016 at 16:12 | #22

    Sounds like a plan. Maybe they will be classmates.

  23. Jeff Hagen
    May 1st, 2016 at 16:56 | #23

    @Barbara Jacobs
    I don’t know that they will Barbara…. but we have a group of fierce Paul fans on board. One or two comments that Jorma responded to above was part of the thread discussing the Lifetime Awards concert. There will never be enough JA, HT or JS as far as many of us are concerned… that is all.

  24. John B
    May 1st, 2016 at 17:38 | #24

    Is Marty still going to be at the Ranch in July ? @Jorma

  25. Barbara Jacobs
    May 1st, 2016 at 17:44 | #25

    No disrespect to you intended, Jeff.
    If they don’t — a good lesson was learned.
    If they do– what is the objective?
    To complain about Jorma, for something that he was not even responsible for planning?
    To complain about the decision made by the surviving Artists of JA.?

    “…that is all.” Exactly.

    I’m o.k. with fierce Paul fans. On the few occasions that I had personal interaction with him within the business of music; he was always very nice to me. Being a female working in the music business, I’ve seen it all and when
    an Artist didn’t respect my efforts — I was outta’ there.

    For the fierce Paul fans on board here:
    I repeat: he was always very nice to me.

    To keep it all in perspective:
    Jorma has been the most respectful, in terms of being an Artist dealing with
    support staff. In working on many charity benefit concerts where there are various Artists arriving to participate — all have been respectful of me because they see that I go the extra mile to make sure that they are comfortable and have everything they need.
    Only Jorma has gone above and beyond, to make my job easier.
    He demonstrated a care about my time and helped me to avoid wasting it.

    It doesn’t matter where or when. It only matters that he showed me professional respect. I never forgot it and I never will.

    I understand about the perception of some fans to feel that there will never be enough JA, HT or JS… But the reality of life is that if you (not you personally, Jeff) are not satisfied with what is currently on offer —
    the joy of abundance will always be beyond your grasp.

    I can see that you are satisfied. That is a good thing for all of us.
    @Jeff Hagen

  26. Jim F
    May 1st, 2016 at 17:45 | #26

    both this thought and the previous thought were written from the heart … like so much of your music, which is why Hot Tuna and JA (and also JS) have such a special place in our hearts.

  27. Susan
    May 1st, 2016 at 20:11 | #27

    Thanks, Jorma…..see you at The Space in August

  28. Brian Doyle
    May 2nd, 2016 at 10:39 | #28

    I want to spend eternity inside Grace Slick’s bliss smirk at Woodstock…

  29. May 2nd, 2016 at 18:45 | #29

    Hi, Jorma

    I was one who initiated the thread on the Come Up The Years Facebook site that you’re referring to.

    Vanessa has generously explained some of the constraints you guys were under – and I have apologised on that thread for the inference that you were “trying to ‘rewrite’ Jefferson Airplane history”. And I apologise to you here and now.

    The BUT I’m about to give doesn’t negate my apology which is sincere. It was a mistake on my part. But my mistake illustrates the point I’m about to make and which I hope you’ll give a fair hearing to.

    I didn’t actually *accuse* quite as explicitly as that. I put it with a question mark…. My intention was that it was read as a query that could be explored. A lot of people don’t appear to have taken that nuance. They read it as a straight-forward attack. My mistake was to put something out there that was ambiguous and could be very easily interpreted in a way I didn’t intend.

    In a sense, I think that’s the way the Grammy’s setlist looked. The choice could be read that way. Once you/Vanessa have made clear the constraints, the choice still doesn’t look representative but it’s clear it was a difficult situation and, from what I can pick up, you guys (and Cathy) certainly delivered a performance worthy of the JA heritage – even if not exactly representative.

    So thank you to you and Vanessa for the explanations and insider info.

    Hope the PBS broadcast gets shown in the UK…and, by the way, a Tuna trip to these shores is long overdue.

    Best wishes

    Keith E Rice

  30. John B
    May 2nd, 2016 at 19:03 | #30

    Jack and Jorma as Airplane sidemen? Where on earth has that ever been said? Sidemen ? ROFL!

  31. chinaski
    May 2nd, 2016 at 19:32 | #31

    That image of the Neely shop entrance should remind Jorma and Jack of home long ago when they’d occasion to step through a very similar narrow entrance and steep narrow stairway leading up to Pappas’ Guitar Shop on Connecticut Avenue. Stephan Spellman closed it a few years back. He had some good stories about our favorite musicians all of which I’m sure were entirely untrue. *wink*

  32. Cyndy Consentino
    May 3rd, 2016 at 13:18 | #32

    Dear Jorma,

    Truer words were never spoken! That everyone in the Airplane was an equal member is what made you “Fly” as a band!

    I was blessed to have seen and spoken with Paul about a year and a half before he passed. I had just seen Marty at FPR (March’14), and Paul wanted to hear all about it. He said to me “Maybe if I stop smoking , I will get out there too!

    Fond memories.

    Love all of you


  33. Barbara Jacobs
    May 3rd, 2016 at 14:36 | #33

    Yes, to have fond memories is the best way to honor those who have passed on.

    The Grammy show was about giving JA an Award for lifetime achievement. That it
    sparked complaints about Jorma trying to get more for himself/Hot Tuna is so

  34. Jorma
    May 4th, 2016 at 10:35 | #34

    Hi Keith… Jorma here… I get it, I really do. There is no more powerful memory evoking force in the universe than music. We hear a sound and we are instantly transported to that place in time and in those moments we relive who we were. You are entitled to your opinion as is everyone. Like I said… upon reflection, I really do get it. As I have said on more than one occasion, I owe my brothers and sisters in the Airplane a dept of gratitude I can never truly repay. Were it not for JA, we would not be having this conversation. That the spirit that drove me and my compatriots so many years ago still seems to live in the hearts and minds of folks such of yourself is a blessing that cannot be bought.

    Jefferson Airplane lived for seven years more or less… At this point in my life, seven years is 3/4 of my daughter’s life… less than half of my son’s life and a blink of an eye in mine. That such a short span of time should be so significant to so many is truly amazing. That brief moment of magic that occurred in San Francisco over a half a century ago could never be replicated, yet at the time… it was just the way it was. Without Marty, the band would never have happened. Without Paul, the band would not have been what it was, Each member back in those early years, Signe, Bob Harvey, the first bass player, Jerry Peloquin the first drummer, Skip Spence our first recorded drummer, Grace, Jack, Spencer… all these people conspired fabricate the flight plan. As personnel began to rotate in later year, well… that’s a discussion for another time.

    Those first days in the summer of 1965… every moment was magic… and every moment was fraught with peril as life began to evolve for all of us. Now, it is certainly not up to me to try to get inside anyone’s head and find out what magic we performed mattered to them. We all see things through the prism of our mind’s eye. Eric Clapton is arguably one of the world’s great guitarists and I am a huge fan. I look at his inventive guitar work and interpretations of ‘traditional’ music with Cream as pure genius. Now even though I have met Eric, we are not ‘buds.’ I do remember Back at the Landmark Hotel (Where Janis died) on Franklin in LA that Eric had a room next to mine. We were talking and I was lauding his work with Cream. He had a pre-release of the Band’s Big Pink and we listened to it. He opined that Big Pink’esque music was what he wanted to do. I didn’t get that then, but I do now.

    Anyway, time is relentless, and memory fragile… Being a member of Jefferson Airplane was an honor, a challenge, a blessing, a threat and much more. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not who I am. I am certainly not qualified to put words in Paul’s mouth (may his memory be a blessing), but the thread of the Airplane was always a constant for Paul. Through the various configurations of the Starship and up to the time he passed it was always his music… and that’s OK. For me the guitar as an instrument has always told me what to do and my music has always circled that sound. My politics are my business and I have never been interested in writing about them. I have always preferred the journey through an emotional landscape. That’s just me. The sharp edges of life always hurt too much for me to indulge in fantasy and so I never had the utopian visions that I think Paul had… and that’s OK too.

    As one of my favorite female singer/songwriters would say:

    ‘And there’s some say you get what you deserve but they’re wrong
    Sometimes you get what you’re given and then it’s all gone
    And you are lucky if you are sufficiently strong
    To daily decide not to die’

    Karine Polwart…

    One of Scotland’s finest.

    I’m not sure I’m really done with these thoughts, but my almost 10 year daughter has something she wants to do with me, and first things first.

    As I leave this long winded reply, Keith, I must take a moment to talk about NARAS, the Grammy organization. People always complain about the Grammies. So and so should have won, so and so shouldn’t have won… etc etc blah blah blah. NARAS is an industry old boy network. Truth be told, the yearly Grammy TV show is crafted with ratings and entertainment in mind. Don’t forget, behind the fancy ass productions, it’s an old boy network, and if you’re not one of the old boys you don’t get to write the scripts. I got a Grammy Nomination in 2003 in the now defunct Traditional Folk category for my Blue Country Heart. You could of knocked me over with a feather, but it was a perfect storm for me that year. I was with Columbia, the record was an ‘event’ that featured Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Byron House and Bela Fleck and songs I culled from the 20’s and 30’s. Doc Watson won that year as he should have, but I got a nomination which will probably never happen again. My medal is in Vanessa’s office.

    Anyhoo… for me, knowing what I do, to get recognition from an organization like NARAS for folks like us who have always been outsiders (in spite of our moments of mainstream success) is truly amazing.

    That’s about it for now. We all do the best we can with what we got.

    Now… I don’t get to the British Isles much. Sad to say sometimes it seems as if I can’t draw flies there. Last time Jack and I were there was over a decade ago at WOMAD in Reading and the 100 Club in London. Sometime I’ll talk about my experience at the 100 Club… not now. Anyway, the agent that I used to have in the British Isles used to tell me, ‘You have to take some losses while you build up a fan base.’ This is true… I know how it works, but at this point in my life, I don’t have to take losses. That said, a friend of mine just bought the Troubadour and I’m sure Jack and I will be there one of these days.

    Thanks for the interest, the passion and the involvement in our little world.

  35. John R.
    May 4th, 2016 at 11:43 | #35

    What he said.

  36. Joey Hudoklin
    May 4th, 2016 at 13:21 | #36

    It was great for me to read those paragraphs Jorma.
    A little insight into my favourite guitarist.
    That being said, I’d love to learn to play “Brother Can you Spare a Dime”.
    Thank you.

  37. Kevin
    May 4th, 2016 at 13:41 | #37

    A great heartfelt read Jorma. I can’t even imagine you have any where near the time for a book, but you certainly have the material.

  38. Alex W.
    May 4th, 2016 at 19:48 | #38

    I hate how the media has always tried to fit the Airplane into a neat little box. You guys, both as the Airplane and Tuna, as well as solo/Jefferson Starship/KBC and other combinations, have made an astounding variety of rich music over the years which these media types couldn’t ever hope to wrap their tiny minds around.

  39. Tim
    May 6th, 2016 at 18:39 | #39

    Congrats to all of you. Well deserved.
    The legacy of JA will outlive us all…in a good way!

  40. May 7th, 2016 at 18:40 | #40

    Many thanks for this, Jorma. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a detailed response.

    Ever since I heard ‘China Breaking’ on the verge of the 68 European tour, JA…and Tuna and JS…and even to some extent the Jefferson-less Starship have formed the soundtrack of my life. I’m not a fan to the degree I have to have a copy of every gig any of the iterations ever played and I’ve never taken the view that some iterations are shit – while it’s not the most cohesive album, I really like ‘BARK’; and, while I tend to favour the Mickey Thomas stuff less, I was really pleased to come across a photo of you and Jack with him a few weeks back. Nothing to me symbolises that sense of family more than Pete Sears playing with you guys – out of the Jeffersonless and into Tuna! (Perfect in a sense!) (I just wish he and Jack had tried some 2 x bass stuff. I asked him about that on Facebook and he said it had never occurred to them?!)

    Though I wish JA hadn’t fallen apart in quite the way it did, I fully respect your wish not to be defined by one particular period in your life – astoundingly remarkable as that one period was. In fact, I quite appreciate some of the more left-field curves your musical trajectories have taken. ‘BARBECUE KING’ is a lost treasure and well worthy of renewed interest and, from what I’ve read about that tour, a live album of the 83 Tuna tour would be a really interesting (if challenging!) work to have. It would also be great to get an official release of those 85-86 dates you did with Jaco Pastorius.

    So no brickbats from me that JA didn’t hang together regardless and turn into a Rolling Stones-type tribute to your younger years. I like that you guys periodically dip in and out of each other’s careers with real respect -affection, even? – and without too many expectations. The 88 Tuna + Paul + Grace + Papa John gig at the Fillmore was far more interesting than anything from the 89 JA reunion. By the way, when will that Fillmore gig get an official release?

    As a sociopsychologist who’s followed your career and the Jefferson soap opera for nearly 50 years, I find the way you now reflect on the JA years particularly gratifying. It’s a bit like a first love. You love who you are now and who you are with now…but every now and then you look back on that first love with a glint in your eye.

    Thanks again for the response. I understand that the UK is probably not viable financially…so you just got to get out more CDs I can buy. To quote Paul: OK? OK!

  41. hogan
    May 8th, 2016 at 08:36 | #41

    Well said Captain…
    Enjoy the ride while we still can..


  42. Sweetbac
    May 8th, 2016 at 17:06 | #42

    Hot Tuna have ALWAYS played by their rules, NOT the “industries”
    End of story.
    Glad you reconnected with PK before he moved on…and it was over a couple bowls of soba noodles and unagi rolls at Mifuni instead of a pack of Camels and a bottle of Stoli over at Vesuvios on Columbus avenue.

  43. May 8th, 2016 at 21:17 | #43

    Indeed Keith… indeed… as for the UK… hope springs eternal and as Mehitabel (see Don Marquis, Archie and Mehitabel) used to say, ‘There’s a dance in the old dame yet!’ I haven’t given up hope about coming back to the UK.

    Be well


  44. May 10th, 2016 at 23:49 | #44

    Well said, Jorma. Well said indeed! Say hi to Grace and Marty for me. Really nice job he did on the “Today” video you have posted. And I’d still like to meet Grace for lunch some day!

    Peace and happy pickin’,

  45. craig healy
    May 15th, 2016 at 07:30 | #45

    Well said personally I just always thought 9f the airplane as the airplane and all you guys were the crew and what a great flight it was