After a nine-year run as one of the pioneering psychedelic acts of the 1960s, Jefferson Airplane changed its name to Jefferson Starship and began a chart-topping ride that continues to this day -- give or take a few years hiatus. The Bay Area act forged its prolific career through classic-rock staples ("Jane," "Miracles," "Find Your Way Back") and dubious commercial hits ("We Built This City"). Although the lineup changes occur so frequently as to be almost comical, the band's arena-rock legacy is hard to dispute.
"We were playing a gig in Germany at the Loreley Amphitheater (in 1978). The Beach Boys and Chicago had canceled out back-to-back shows at this place, and people were pissed off. Half the crowd was German and the other half were American Marines. There were people in the crowd with gasoline cans. The first band had already played, and they figured the show was really going to go on this time. But Grace (Slick) had diarrhea and was throwing up. She wasn't going to go on. They asked me to go out to make the announcement.
"I said, 'You've got to be crazy. I'm not going to go out there. They're going to kill me.'
"So (keyboardist David) Freiberg said he'd go out there. There was dead silence when he said, 'We'll make the gig up, but Grace is deathly ill.'
"I was standing next to one of my roadies by my drums, and a Heineken bottle came flying through the air. It hit him in the head and he went down like a bowling pin.
"Then a full-bore riot ensued. The Marines were fighting with the Germans. There was military there and police. One of the Germans was drunk and had a broken bottle, and he was coming up to one of the regular German police. And the policeman took his gun out and was going to waste the guy right there. It was Altamont all over again.
"Amilitary policeman said, 'You don't have to do that.'
"He pushed the policeman's gun down with his stick and said, 'All you have to do is this!'
"And he hit (the drunk guy) over the head with his stick."
— Johny Barbata, Jefferson Starship