I saw Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire on stage

Founder of 1960s San Francisco psychedelia flies in for a Grand night out in the Ribble Valley...

Saturday, 11th January 2014, 7:45 am
Jefferson Starship
Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship, Dave Freiberg.

While he may not be a household name, David Freiberg is nevertheless a hugely important figure in the history of not one but two major rock bands.

He was founder member of psychedelic outfit Quicksilver Messenger Service, one of the psychedelic rock groups that created the San Francisco sound in the ‘60s.

Then Freiberg played bass and sung with the Jefferson Airplane, one of America’s biggest bands, before jumping on to Jefferson Starship and launching another cosmic mission with longtime band mate Paul Kantner.

“I’ve been making music for nearly 60 years, but I’m having more fun in this version of Jefferson Starship than I’ve ever had,” said Freiberg, speaking on the phone from San Francisco.

Freiberg, who co-founded Starship four decades ago, stayed with the group for several years under various guises – but left before Starship mega hits We Built This City and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now sold millions.

For the next 20 years Freiberg turned his attention to the studio, eventually rejoining Kantner in Jefferson Starship for their 2005 tour, The Jefferson Family Galactic Reunion, and has remained on board ever since.

“It felt like I’d never stopped playing, it was kinda like good medicine getting back on the Jefferson Starship,” he said.

“Going up on the stage again, playing Somebody to Love, Miracles, Wooden Ships, White Rabbit or Jane, is like gold dust for me.

“The biggest tune I wrote was Jane.

“I sing it from experience because I knew the girl.”

Freiberg’s 75 now, and admits the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with his first band, Quicksilver Messenger Service remains the standout of an extraordinary musical career.

“I mean, you just think about who was there,” he adds.

“Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Bryds, The Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Simon and Garfunkel and Janis Joplin.

“That’s a mad line-up isn’t it?

“I watched Hendrix set his guitar ablaze with lighter fuel at the end of Wild Thing and then smash it to smithereens.

“It was absolutely awesome to see.

“We had no record contract and or an album, but the promoter put us on.

“When I bought a guitar and sung songs in coffee shops, I could never have imagined any of this.

“The universe didn’t let me do anything else.

“It’s a great fortune to do something you love.”

Freiberg and Kantner will be joined by singer Cathy Richardson, the Grammy nominated star, taking the audience on a galactic journey through four decades of science fiction rock and roll.

“I never know what the set is going to be, but there will probably be quite a lot of stuff from the early Starship albums Dragonfly and Red Octopus.

“Paul Kantner usually makes the set-list up, but we will not be playing We Built This City or Nothing’s Gonna Stop us.

“We get requests for them, but we had nothing to do with those songs.

“We’d only play them as a joke.

“We love playing here. We have fans from Britain called the ship mates and they often turn up in America to see Starship play. The band do have this fantastic vibe again.

“You’ll see. Please come to the gig and you’ll see.”

Jefferson Starship, Clitheroe Grand, January 24, 01200 421599.

by Tony Dewhurst