“Don’t you want somebody to love?” goes the chorus of Jefferson Airplane‘s best-known hit. Love was more than just an age-old crutch for pop songwriters in 1967, the year the Grace Slick–sung “Somebody to Love” was released; it had taken on a metaphysical dimension, and Jefferson Airplane were at the vanguard. The Summer of Love launched the band into the pop charts, but also into the eye of the psychedelic storm that was brewing in their native San Francisco. But even hippie anthems like “White Rabbit” couldn’t keep the eerie weirdness of the times at bay. The Jefferson Airplane’s 1966 debut LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was recorded before Grace Slick joined the group and they embraced their iconic psychedelic sound. The collection of folk rock tunes didn’t find much of an audience (it peaked at Number 128 on the Billboard album chart), but the standout track “It’s No Secret” showcased the group’s incredible potential that would soon pay off in a huge way. Marty Balin wrote the song imagining Otis Redding handling the lead, and tried to find his inner soul man when laying down the vocals. The group shot into stardom with the explosive “Somebody to Love,” a song written by Grace Slick’s brother-in-law and former Great Society bandmate Darby Slick. The fantastical break-up single shot up the charts upon its release — their first and biggest hit. It not only helped Jefferson Airplane make their mark on rock music but also put San Francisco and its Haight-Ashbury scene on the map as the center of the counter-cultural movement.
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