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Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane Hardcover – June 3, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671034030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671034030
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.


"A definitive history of the San Francisco band...thorough and colorful." -- Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003

An exhaustive treatment--an absolute trove for those with an Airplane itch--of what was an exhilarating, but exhausting, time." -- Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003

Fred Dellar Mojo There's a cliché about how certain rock publications induce the reader to immediately head for the record racks and once more indulge in the described music. But, cliché or not, Got a Revolution! is the kind of book that achieves exactly that aim. It's a superb (and hefty) chunk of writing that documents every twist and turn in the ever-evolving life of a great American band -- the basis not just for an engrossing TV documentary but for a whole damn series. The amazing thing is that Jeff Tamarkin delivers nothing but the truth. Hollywood scriptwriters could hardly come up with anything so attention-grabbing. Now excuse me while I replay Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow for the first time in years. Damn Tamarkin, he's got me hooked! -- Review

More About the Author

For more than three and a half decades, Jeff Tamarkin has been one of the most respected and prolific music journalists in the country. For 15 years he was Editor of Goldmine, the bible of record/CD collectors. Prior to that, he served as the first Editor of CMJ and as Editor of Relix. He was also the first Editor of Grateful Dead Comix, has written for dozens of publications, including Billboard, Newsweek, Playbill, Creem, Mojo, Newsday, New York Daily News, Boston Phoenix and others,, and has contributed to the Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music and the All-Music Guide. He has written the liner notes for more than 80 CDs, including most of the Jefferson Airplane catalog, as well as related CDs by Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship and solo albums by the members of those bands. Jeff has also served on the Nominating Committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and as a consultant to the Grammys. As a consultant to the Music Club CD label, he assisted in releasing over 180 reissues and compilations, in styles ranging from jazz to country to pop. Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane (Atria Books) was his first book. Published in June 2003, it was the first biography of this legendary San Francisco band, and was written with the cooperation of all of the band members. From 2002-2006 Jeff has been the Editor of Global Rhythm, the leading magazine for world music and global culture. He is currently the Associate Editor of JazzTimes. He is the co-author of Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc., by Howard Kaylan. He lives in Hoboken, NJ, with his wife, the novelist and Boston Globe book columnist Caroline Leavitt, and their son, Max.

Customer Reviews

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If you're at all tempted, do buy and read it.
Howard Mandel
Even Grace Slick who has often appeared to take a blase attitude toward her music and life in general is shown as a relatively strong composer and musician.
Very well written and readable; I couldn't put it down.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By eclectictastes on August 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Because I was too young to be aware of them during the 60s, my first memory of this group was thru the songs Miracles and Runaway during the 70s and it's Starship period. Although I have certain fondness for these songs, many older fans view this era as lacking compared to their Airplane material. Even more fans find their 80s stuff less appealing...a sentiment with which I happen to agree. (We Built This City has to be one of the more excruciating songs of the 80s.)
Learning about the Airplane thru articles and Behind the Music episodes, I was not impressed. All the members struck me as extremely self involved, childish, drama prone and spoiled. There seemed to be a lingering bitterness especially in regards to Marty Balin's feelings toward Grace Slick. But since the 60s are a continuing source of fascination for me, I picked up this book.
Reading the book, I'm still not impressed with the individuals in the band as people. (No one comes off as particularly pleasant) But I did come away with an appreciation for their desire to push the envelope with their music. Even Grace Slick who has often appeared to take a blase attitude toward her music and life in general is shown as a relatively strong composer and musician.
Tamarkin is effective at capturing the environment and atmosphere of San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. He also gives a fuller if not complete picture of peripheral band members such as Papa John Creach, Signe Anderson (the original female singer of Airplane) and others. We also learn of the band's failed business dealings and contract disputes. Overall it's a good history of the culture of the 60s and all it's craziness.
I'd recommend that one read Joel Selvin's Summer of Love as a companion to this book. Those not familiar with the history will receive a fuller picture as a result.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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. He didn't make the band; thus, when their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was released in mid-1966, he was not on it. My local record store didn't carry it, and no one who worked there had ever heard of them. How things would change within less than a year, when a song called "Somebody to Love" was all over the radio and Jefferson Airplane was all over television.
Jefferson Airplane was a swirling mass of contradictions. Their fan club slogan, "Jefferson Airplane Loves You," was perfect for the Summer of Love, yet the band was split into two, sometimes three, contentious camps. Their politics were extreme radical left; they made no bones about embracing Red China, yet if they had ever appeared in that country, they would have undoubtedly wound up underneath some tanktread. They also embraced, and utilized, the capitalist system in their business dealings to the hilt. And while espousing an idealistic communal style that publicly eschewed materiality, they were poster child limousine liberals. Their music was by turns brilliant and crap, with some of it standing up after hundreds of listenings over three and one-half decades, while others were unlistenable from Day One. Yet their influence on the culture for several mad, insane years was undeniable.
Jeff Tamarkin chronicles the entire process from the beginning to the present in GOT A REVOLUTION!, which is a history of Jefferson Airplane (and its offshoots) collectively and its members individually. It is an amazing work on a number of levels.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By s.ferber on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had waited impatiently for many years for someone to tackle a complete history of one of my favorite bands, Jefferson Airplane, and when I finally saw the book in my local store, and then the author's name on the book itself, I knew right away that all would be well. I had enjoyed Jeff Tamarkin's wonderfully well-written, impeccably researched, enthusiastic and informative liner notes for various Airplane and Hot Tuna CDs for quite a while, and sensed that he was the perfect man to handle this job. Happily, that indeed turns out to be the case, and his Airplane history, "Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane," featuring all those qualities that made his liner notes such a joy, is the volume that I and many others had been waiting for. Tamarkin not only gives us a thorough history of this seminal San Francisco group--starting in 1965, when Marty Balin (nee Martyn Buchwald) decided to put a new kind of band together--but also follows it through its dissolution in 1972 and on to its various offshoots (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, KBC Band, etc.). Covering the pre-hippy days of the mid-'60s, through the Nixonian years and right on to J.A.'s reunion in 1989, Tamarkin also gives us a concise primer of a fascinating period of recent history. The book is replete with details of the band's principals but not exhaustingly so; that is, it never gets bogged down with excess back story, but rather gives us all the info we need to understand all the band members as fully fleshed-out people, limiting their back biographies to quick 10-page chapters.Read more ›
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