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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003

An intriguing composite picture of Jefferson Airplane and its many permutations.

Global Rhythm magazine editor Tamarkin doesn't claim to be speaking the gospel of the Airplane here, but instead he offers a chronological pastiche of the personalities and events associated with the rock group. Sprinkling this account with short comments from the band members and others in its orbit, he writes a lively, detail-strewn history of the legendary band and how it took, with a vengeance, to the electricity of San Francisco in the mid-1960s. The politics of the Bay Area at that time don't play much of a role in the story, but Tamarkin's tale leans heavily toward music, sex, and drugs, not insignificant forces by any means. He captures the swirling energy the band generated; its insistence to go its own way, particularly when confronted by music industry executives; the delirious performances at the Fillmore; the creation of the great album art and concert posters; Grace Slick's on- and offstage intensity; the wicked frictions that came with the group's constant game of musical beds; its musical shift from pastel to darkness; how it turned Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark on their ears; the crazywild lifestyle that finally led to fistfights, gunplay, and death at Altamont. Tamarkin also reminds readers that the band members were assertive and inspired musicians who went on to play with a wide variety of bands, constantly reinventing themselves, through Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna to the unfortunate 1989 reunion, which Rolling Stone dubbed the "most unwelcome comeback of the year." The players were incandescent, professionally and personally, and their behavior left an endless string of anecdotes, from the joyous to the really ugly, from the Summer of Love to a drunken Slick pointing a gun at police officers.

An exhaustive treatment-an absolute trove for those with an Airplane itch-of what in retrospect was an exhilarating, but also awfully exhausting, time.

Publisher's Weekly, April 28, 2003

Formed in San Francisco in 1965, Jefferson Airplane helped pave rock's psychedelic road of the 1960s and 1970s. Tamarkin, who wrote the liner notes for RCA's 10th anniversary CD collection of Airplane songs, offers a fan's notes of the band. Drawing on interviews with the many musicians and others who wandered through Airplane on its way to the heights of musical history, Tamarkin chronicles the course of the band as it soared to its early successes, floated through in-fighting and excessive drug use, and eventually crashed and burned-out in the late '60s and early '70s. Tamarkin effectively traces the ways that band members' egos and their creative differences both molded Airplane and brought it to its demise. He efficiently narrates the early days when its founding members Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen played folk rock clubs in the Bay area and then, joined by Grace Slick in 1966, took off into new musical directions, changing rock music forever along with bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. Tamarkin weaves his own adoring interpretations of each song from almost every album into his chronological narrative of the band's history, demonstrating that Airplane's music often reflected the days of their lives. He provides an epilogue in which he brings readers up-to-date on the band's members and a complete discography. Although Tamarkin's hagiographic portrait of the band is hardly objective, his friendship with and complete access to the players in this story certainly makes his account the definitive one.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Relix Magazine, June 2003

Considering the popularity of Jefferson Airplane/Starship, and the fact that their dramatic saga is filled with sex, drugs, arrests and countless calamities, it's amazing that their up-and-down history has not been authoritatively chronicled until now. The good news is that the right guy wrote the book: Jeff Tamarkin, one-time editor of Relix, has written extensively about the Airplane and its off-shoots over the years.. The result, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, is a detailed, anecdote-rich, often funny and always thoroughly engaging account of the life and times one of the most intriguing rock groups to emerge from the late '60s swirl.

Tamarkin skillfully traces the paths that brought together the very disparate personalities that made up the Airplane. From the outset there are problems, but the classic lineup, including Grace Slick, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady, drummer Spencer Dryden and founders Marty Balin and Paul Kantner, falls together, and they scale some amazing heights during the late '60s-hit records, numerous television appearances, even the cover of Life magazine. But the squabbling-with each other, with their record company (RCA) and with the "straight" powers-that-be everywhere-never ends, and the weird factionalism that eventually sunk the group rears its head early and often. Yet that tension, which you can hear in their soaring trademark harmonies and in the incendiary interplay between Casady and Kaukonen, is part of what made the Airplane such a powerful unit when they were "on."

The last part of the book is mostly just sad: detailing the many trials and tribulations of Jefferson Starship, as it became a middle-of-the-road hit machine and shed its members one by one (including founder Kantner!) until it slid into total irrelevancy. But the downer ending does not diminish the impact of the book-or of the group, for that matter. The music, more than the musicians' messed up lives, is their true legacy. Blair Jackson

St. Petersburg Times, July 2003

Exhaustive research. First-hand accounts. Details only insiders would know. The story of the first lunar landing wasn't this well told.

To diehard Jefferson Airplane fans, Got A Revolution! is the book they've been sitting around in their bell-bottoms waiting for. This and the latest Physician's Desk Reference.

It's everything you ever wanted to know about Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden and the cast of thousands who drifted in and out of the band's sphere of influence. Tom Zucco

The Barnes & Noble Review

The Jefferson Airplane may be the most underrated major band of the 1960s. Their first six seminal albums aren't given the attention they deserve, and their canonical status is not always granted when it comes to critical evaluations. Got a Revolution! attempts to set the record straight. The story of this incredibly creative group is also chock-full of personal drama, and author Jeff Tamarkin examines both the Airplane's artful legacy and the internal tension that goaded the group on to greater heights and ultimately tore it apart. Tamarkin, a rock 'n roll scholar and longtime Airplane fan, gives an enjoyable and illuminating account of the band, from its early origins to its transformation into the Jefferson Starship and beyond. Drawing on personal accounts from many of the major characters and on his own wide research, Tamarkin paints a vivid picture of the 1960s and early '70s, an era characterized by political and social turmoil, as well as hopeful aspirations, and shows how the Airplane's music reflected the momentous changes. The rocky road leading to the present day is also detailed in all its difficulties and disillusionments. The wild stories of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are all here, to be sure, but Tamarkin's true appreciation for the band's inventive music is what keeps the book honest. Steve Futterman

The Onion

Tamarkin gets the rough shape of their story down in lively, readable fashion, complete with mini-cliffhangers at the end of almost every chapter. And he tells a story worth telling, about how and why a group of people who once meant so much to so many has been reduced to a couple of out-of-context songs on classic-rock radio.

New York Daily News

Jeff Tamarkin's first draft of Got a Revolution! (Atria, $27), the first comprehensive biography of the Jefferson Airplane and its many descendants, ran 1,300 pages...

Kansas City Star


Tamarkin's engaging text should be good reading for those who experienced the '60s (but maybe don't remember everything) as well as those born too late to partake.

Nashville City Paper


Noted author, critic and editor Jeff Tamarkin’s new book Got A Revolution The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane (Atria) exhaustively examines the Airplane’s music, accomplishments and personalities, setting — as much as humanely possible — the record straight regarding the group’s mercurial rise, subsequent demise and splits into subsidiary units such as Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna.


Flint (Michigan) Journal


For Tamarkin, who's been writing about the business and art of music for more than a quarter century, the book is clearly a labor of love. Massively researched and brilliantly written, Got a Revolution! is a musical memento from the days when rock was young, rebellious and a whole lot more fun.

Click the link to read reviews from

San Francisco Chronicle
Alternately poignant, inspiring, thought-provoking and exasperating (not unlike the Airplane members themselves), part biography, part cultural history, part discography and part celebrity dish, the book is a fascinating read.

Book Reporter
I have in my treasure-trove of personal memorabilia a letter from a friend, postmarked from San Francisco in September 1965, where he describes hanging out with a newly formed band with the strange name of "Jefferson Airplane" and auditioning to be their lead singer...

Austin Chronicle
Veteran music writer and former Goldmine Editor Jeff Tamarkin traces the band's tortured, dysfunctional, serpentine history from its folk-rock origins through innumerable permutations, transformations, and side projects.

The Boston Phoenix
During the first five pages of Jeff Tamarkin’s Jefferson Airplane bio, two clichés about the ’60s go through the shredder...

Neumu
Perhaps the most endearing thing about Jefferson Airplane that emerges from Jeff Tamarkin's in-depth biography of the group, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane (Atria Books), is how unconcerned with being trendy or hip the members of the group were during their heyday — from the mid-'60s into the early '70s...


Kansas City Star

Tamarkin's engaging text should be good reading for those who experienced the '60s (but maybe don't remember everything) as well as those born too late to partake.

Buffalo News
If, as James Joyce suggested in "Ulysses," history is a nightmare from which we must awake, then Jeff Tamarkin's Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane goes a long way toward pulling the late 1960s from the quicksand of historical revisionism.

Clouds and Clocks
(Italy)
Jeff Tamarkin is in many ways the right person to tell this story: a witness of the times, quite familiar with the history and the discography of the group, the former Goldmine editor has also penned the liner notes to many booklets of Airplane and Airplane-related CDs. So we have a meticulous research work--and direct access to the musicians, who had the opportunity to comment on those facts from a long time ago (and they don't necessarily remember things the same way). Pretty exhaustive when it comes to biography, the book offers a lot in the socio-political department.


And check out this great feature article by Joel Selvin in the San Francisco Chronicle too. it begins, "After all these years, the members of the Jefferson Airplane finally agree on something. To a man -- and one woman -- they admire the best-selling biography of the band, "Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane" by Jeff Tamarkin."

 

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