Spencer & Paul at Woodstock

Spencer Dryden April 7, 1938 – January 11, 2005

Here’s to us and those like us, damn few left!

In the photo above you see Spencer Dryden and Paul Kantner at Bethel Woods. It was more than a lifetime ago for some and a fading memory for those of us still inhabiting this earth. Spencer Dryden and Jack Casady were the anchormen for Jefferson Airplane in that time. In my opinion, even these many years later, the lineup that played Woodstock, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner, Jack Casady, Grace Slick, Marty Balin and myself was the gold standard incarnation of our band. Yes I know Nicky Hopkins was in the mix back then but he was always a treasured guest.

Anyway, today is the 19th anniversary of Spencer’s death. Spencer’s hospice nurse, Brad Coyle, was a Fur Peace Ranch guest and thanks to him I was actually able to reconnect with Spencer and talk to him before he passed.

A guy my age gets lots of questions about what it was like back in the day blah blah blah.

Spencer my friend, we were young together in an important time in my life. I will never forget you.

I hope your ship still is sailing perfect waters…

 

Jorma


Comments

  1. Comment made on January 18, 2024 by Dave

    I love these recollections! Spencer was an awesome drummer with a jazzy style that just fit in well with the Airplane. He had such a great touch.

    Hey I don’t want to spoil the party here, but respectfully, that photo doesn’t look like Woodstock. It looks more like one from the May 5, 1968 Central Park concert. It’s a younger look for Paul, and at Woodstock he had a headband, glasses, and a lighter-colored shirt at the other side of the drums. Spencer had a lighter blue shirt IIRC. Apologies ……………but hope it helps! The Woodstock set is on YouTube (but of course).

    • Comment made on February 24, 2024 by Dave (also)

      Not to join into the buzzkill, but that’s actually you and Spencer and the photo is from San Francisco in 1967. I’m guessing the Panhandle. Excited to see you in NYC in April.

    • Comment made on January 19, 2024 by Jorma

      By golly… I think you’re right… well recollected!

  2. Comment made on January 17, 2024 by Dave Bray

    Thanks for reminding me of Spencer Jorma. One of my all time favorite albums is the first New Riders record and Spencer turns in another stellar performance ! It’s just crazy how much good music was made back then and how most of it still holds up today.

  3. Comment made on January 14, 2024 by Gary Dion

    Moments in time. Thanks for this, Jorma. Always love listening to the rhythms. Spare Chaynge among many others. Spencer was (is) great!

  4. Comment made on January 14, 2024 by Greg Martelli

    I always preferred the drumming of Spencer,clean ,crisp to the point .
    The cymbals on Two heads certainly set the tone ,and he didn’t have any problem keeping up in Spare Chaynge .
    He and Jack built many of the tunes ,coming out of nowhere .

  5. Spencer’s drumming was one more unique element which set the Airplane apart from other bands of that era. It still hold up today, and remains a listening pleasure. What a great combination of unusual musical personalities in that band!

  6. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by Brian Doyle

    The sun slowly climbs its staircase north…Only this year he has me waiting in the watch tower above for his warmth…

  7. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by carey georgas

    What he said. I like the present way yonder more than the past. The past serves its purpose as both a teacher, and a medium for expressions of emotion as demonstrated here.
    Chris Salgado: “I Want My Dog To Live Longer”. Listen if you ain’t already.

  8. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by Alan R.

    I couldn’t agree more Jorma. In 1968 and 1969, the Airplane was an amazing band at the absolute peak of its legendary powers. That lineup simply soared. I was lucky enough to see JA for the first time just a week before Woodstock, at Central Park in NYC. Santana opened and then JA totally blew my mind. I just looked up the setlist on setlist.fm. 8/10/69. What a show! Do you have any dim memories of that beautiful Sunday in the Park? I will never forget it!

  9. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by Ham Neggs

    Would be wonderful to hear you n David Jo tackle “Today” at City Winery sez da fan fantazizer.
    You both have a “Heart of Gold”
    Peace✌🏻️❤️Love All Ways🔥🚲🌹🙏🏻🖖🏼

  10. Comment made on January 13, 2024 by Bill from Wisconsin

    For those of us who didn’t personally know Spencer, his spirit lives in through the music. And, 55+ years ago, as we listened to a Baxter’s track titled “A Small Package of Value Will Come To You Shortly”, we were in hysterics. Our sides hurt and eyes watered, over the laughter following “no man is an island…he’s a peninsula.” Yes, I know Spencer was a superb musician, but that recording (and the album in general) created a moment in time that is indelibly etched in my mind. Music does that sometimes. Too rarely. Youthful, joyous laughter is a pretty darn good memorial for anyone! They can play that clip at my memorial.

  11. Comment made on January 12, 2024 by Chappy

    Jorma, thanks for sharing…family and friendships are what it’s all about. I’m not an autograph hound per se, however, you were so kind to sign a copy of the “Bark” album for me a few years back here in Richmond, VA when you played the Tin Pan…and thanks to your road mgr Phil who assisted! It already had Grace, Jack, Paul, Marty’s (even though I don’t think he played on that album), and Spencer’s signatures. When Phil brought the album cover back with your signature, he said “You’ve got a cool piece of history here! “. It’s framed and hanging on my wall. So, thank you
    again!

    Also, spinning a “new” Doors release: 3-disc set from the Matrix (1967). Read some good reviews on it in MOJO or UNCUT so I bought it. Liner notes by Joel Selvin are interesting….many references of course to JA. I was too young to see the Doors, however, I did enjoy getting to see Robby Krieger Band play at one of Tedeschi Trucks Sunshine Festivals in 2015 and he was great. And he also sat in and guested earlier that day with Los Lobos that was awesome! All the best to you, your family, and John Hurlbut, one of the best humans on this planet!

  12. Comment made on January 12, 2024 by Dan Nigro

    What a great run, Baxter’s – Crown – Volunteers, with Pointed Head showing the live power of that band. Another passing of note, the great Tommy Smothers who had the honor of introducing the band with Grace in black face singing Crown and Lather (which I understand was about Spencer turning 30). We were all so much younger then, but let’s plan on getting older

  13. Comment made on January 12, 2024 by alexander pepiak

    Memories keep you young

  14. Comment made on January 12, 2024 by Richard Schultze

    What a great chance to happen upon this post! I always knock around the drum opening from “She Has Funny Cars” in my head. I’m not a musician so couldn’t understand when I read once that near the end Jefferson Airplane sought a more rock n’ roll drummer. None of the others were the “Gold Standard”. I pushed my ex-wife to name my now 30 year old son Spencer. I loved the name and I loved Spencer Dryden’s music and schtick. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Comment made on January 11, 2024 by Tom S

    “He looked at me eyes wide and plainly said
    Is it true that I’m no longer young?”

    At twenty years younger than yourself I’m feeling this sentiment myself. Thank you for sharing your journey with us Jorma and for being thoughtful and kind while doing it.

    • Comment made on January 12, 2024 by Thomas McCormack

      Thanks Tom perfectly said. Ditto from me Jorma.

      Seems like memories are we have to hang on too.
      Let us keep making good ones!

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