“Good morning Atlanta, you little peach you!” greeted Grace Slick when
our number popped up on her Caller ID Monday in Malibu.
For the past 20 years, the legendary singer for Jefferson Airplane,
Jefferson Starship and later Starship has been retired
from rock arenas, preferring a quieter existence as an artist.
On March 25, Slick’s paintings of late pal Jimi Hendrix will
adorn the walls of the Georgian Terrace along with original artwork by
the late rock guitar god for a weekend saluting the performer.
Across the street at the Fox Theatre, the Experience
Hendrix tour hits the stage March 27.
The concert features former Hendrix bassist Billy Cox, Eric
Johnson, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd
and other ax men.
These days, at age 70, the silver-haired Slick paints portraits of her
fellow 1960s rock icons, including Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and
Hendrix is a frequent muse for her.
“Because they sell!” she cracks. “I have no problem labeling myself a
commercial artist. I live in Malibu. We sell stuff here.”
Slick says one of her fondest memories of Hendrix was standing backstage
and watching him light up the Monterey Pop Festival in 1968.
“We had heard each other on records but it was really the first time we
got to see artists like the Mamas and the Papas and Jimi,” she
“We all stood there, slack-jawed, looking like idiots, saying ‘Holy
[expletive] look at that guy!’ He not only played well but he was
setting his guitar on fire! For me, Jimi, aside from the Beatles,
represents the ’60s more than any other individual.”
“When he played. it was with his whole being. Politically, he went from
being pro war to being anti war. He wasn’t a stoop. Jimi just went for
it. Here he was, a black man in a largely white music genre and he just
went for it.”
Still, Slick, who famously bedded the lead singer of The Doors
and later wrote about it in her autobiography, has one regret about
“We never did it and I’m really sorry about that!” she concedes,
Aside from the commercial prospects, Slick says there’s a reason she’s
drawn to her 1960s musical peers as subjects.
“Back then, we didn’t have to be good looking,” she laughs. “We just had
to play music. We didn’t have to look like a Barbie doll. There are a
lot of really interesting faces from back then as a result.”
And Slick doesn’t regret her decision to retire from rock either.
“Rock n roll should be like sports,” she theorizes. “You need to get off
the stage before it gets embarrassing. That doesn’t mean you need to
leave the business. Go into A&R or producing or something. But no
one should be 60 and wearing spandex on stage. Scratch that, no one
should wear spandex, period!”
Just prior to our phone call, Slick had caught 1960s folks singer Donovan
on “Good Day LA” Monday morning.
She wasn’t impressed.
“He wasn’t hitting the notes,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, come on!’
When you get older, you’re just not as good. Things fall apart on you.
Have some self respect.”
Slick says she’s thrilled that Jefferson Airplane and Hendrix’s music is
out there for a new generation via things like the Experience Hendrix
“It’s gratifying because it’s good music,” she says. “People still
listen to Johann Sebastian Bach too because it was good. I like
when kids come up and tell me they were turned on to us listening to our
records at their grandmother’s house.”
Less cool to Slick?
“The grandmothers I meet who still have long hair and wearing tie dye
T-shirts. You want to tell them, ‘Oh my God, things have happened
since then, honey!'”
Slick’s and Hendrix’s artwork will be for sale at the Georgian Terrace
Clock Wall Friday, March 25 to Sunday March 28.