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RIP Spencer Dryden

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  • spelias@aol.com
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2005
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      > www.sfgate.com Return to regular view
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      -
      > Spencer Dryden -- Jefferson Airplane drummer
      > - Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic
      > Thursday, January 13, 2005
      >
      >
      >
      > Spencer Dryden, the drummer for the Jefferson Airplane who once appeared
      >with his group on the cover of Life magazine but had fallen on hard times,
      >died Tuesday from cancer. He was 66 years old.
      >
      > Mr. Dryden, who had health problems in recent years, retired from
      >performing music 10 years ago, although he hadn't been working much long
      >before that. "I'm gone," he told The Chronicle in May 2004. "I'm out of it.
      >I've left the building."
      >
      > A benefit last year at Slim's starring Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and
      >Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule raised some $36,000 for Mr. Dryden, who was in
      >the middle of two hip replacement surgeries and was facing heart surgery at
      >the time. His Petaluma home and all his possessions had been destroyed in a
      >fire in September 2003. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer later last
      >year.
      >
      > Mr. Dryden was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for
      >his work with the Jefferson Airplane during the band's glory years -- from
      >the breakthrough 1967 "Surrealistic Pillow" album through historic rock
      >festivals such as Woodstock and Altamont. He sat out the band's performance
      >at the Waldorf Astoria that night, watching from the table. "He was always
      >fragile," said Airplane vocalist Marty Balin.
      >
      > Born in New York City, Mr. Dryden moved with his parents when he was an
      >infant to Los Angeles, where his father went to work as an assistant
      >director for Mr. Dryden's uncle, movie star Charlie Chaplin. One Chaplin
      >biographer described a scene of idyllic domesticity at a family Christmas
      >party in 1943 when 5-year-old Spencer Dryden read "The Night Before
      >Christmas."
      >
      > After attending Glendale High School, he graduated from the Army and
      >Navy Academy in Carlsbad (San Diego County) in 1955. He played in some
      >early rock 'n' roll bands but soon drifted toward jazz and was working as a
      >drummer at the Hollywood strip club the Pink Pussycat when session drummer
      >Earl Palmer recommended him to the Airplane's manager.
      >
      > He replaced Skip Spence, who went on to start another Fillmore-era San
      >Francisco rock group, Moby Grape. Mr. Dryden conducted an affair with the
      >band's female vocalist, Grace Slick, and his marriage to the former Sally
      >Mann was covered extensively in Rolling Stone magazine. He recorded on a
      >number of the Airplane's most famous albums, "Surrealistic Pillow," "After
      >Bathing At Baxter's," "Bless Its Pointed Little Head," "Crown Of Creation"
      >and "Volunteers," before leaving the band in 1970.
      >
      > He replaced Mickey Hart in the Grateful Dead sideline country-rock band,
      >New Riders of the Purple Sage, in February 1971 and stayed with that group
      >until 1978, recording a number of albums including the 1973 gold album "The
      >Adventures of Panama Red."
      >
      > In the '80s, he joined a group of psychedelic rock veterans called the
      >Dinosaurs that played informally around Bay Area clubs along with former
      >members of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger
      >Service and Country Joe and the Fish. When the other band members reunited
      >for a 1989 Jefferson Airplane reunion album and tour, Mr. Dryden was not
      >invited to participate.
      >
      > "Spencer had a flow," said Mickey Hart of the Dead, "a way of going, an
      >impulse power that was irresistible and unique. He was capable of creating
      >a churning, loving rhythm machine for ecstatic dancing."
      >
      > "He was just the greatest guy," said ex-wife Sally Mann Romano of
      >Houston. "He was so quirky, and he never intentionally hurt anyone."
      >
      > He last appeared in public in November, after he was already being
      >treated for cancer, signing autographs and shaking hands at a release party
      >for the recent DVD of Jefferson Airplane video clips at the Great American
      >Music Hall.
      >
      > He died at his Petaluma home, little more than a shack really, that he
      >rented on the back end of somebody else's property outside of Penngrove.
      >
      > He was married three times and is survived by three sons; Jeffrey, Jes
      >and Jackson Dryden. Plans for a memorial concert are pending.
      >
      > Page B - 6
      > URL:
      >http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/01/13/BAGVGAPF1T1.DTL
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