Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship


Jefferson Starship is one of the most successful arena rock groups of the 1970s and 80s, earning 3 platinum and 8 gold records, as well as numerous Top 40 singles. While Jefferson Starship continues to tour today, the band has experienced numerous lineup and personnel changes, and each of those members have contributed to the magic and alchemy that make Jefferson Starship iconic.


The legend of Jefferson Starship begins in 1970, when Paul Kantner released an album titled BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE under the artist name “Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship”. The story, however, begins with the coalescence of the band Jefferson Starship itself, in 1974. That collection of talent included John Barbata, Craig Chaquico, Papa John Creach, David Freiberg, Paul Kantner, Peter Kaukonen, and Grace Slick. They first toured as Jefferson Starship in 1974, and released the album, DRAGON FLY which was certified gold in 1975. Kaukonen departed the lineup after that initial tour and the remaining members welcomed Pete Sears on bass. Shortly thereafter, Marty Balin joined the Jefferson Starship lineup. Balin had co-founded Jefferson Airplane with Paul Kantner, and the Airplane roster also included Grace Slick, David Freiberg, and Papa John Creach at various points during that band’s existence. Balin’s addition to the Jefferson Starship lineup resulted in a reunion of sorts for all those players under a new banner. The new collection of personnel returned to the studio to record RED OCTOPUS, which was released in June of 1975. The record reached #1, propelled by the success of the hit singles, Miracles and Play on Love. It has sold over two million copies. Papa John Creach quietly left the band after this whirlwind success. Jefferson Starship’s hit-making streak continued with 1976’s SPITFIRE, which featured the hit, With Your Love, and 1978’s EARTH, powered by the hits, Count on Me and Runaway

The band evolved again in 1979. Marty Balin and Grace Slick departed by choice, and John Barbata had to leave due to a serious car accident. Mickey Thomas stepped in on lead vocals and Aynsley Dunbar picked up the sticks. This latest incarnation of Jefferson Starship produced the band’s fifth consecutive hit record, FREEDOM AT POINT ZERO, thrust to gold status by the hit single Jane. MODERN TIMES followed in 1980, finding its way to gold certification on the wings of hit single Find Your Way Back. Grace Slick sang background on the album and returned to tour with the band in 1981. In 1982, Aynsley Dunbar left the group, and Donny Baldwin assumed drum duties. The band’s 1982 release WINDS OF CHANGE would also produce two top 40 hits, Be My Lady and Winds of Change. 1984’s NUCLEAR FURNITURE kept the band’s streak alive, planting No Way Out on the top 40 and selling over 500,000 records.


Paul Kantner left due to creative differences in 1985, and after some acrimony with the remaining band members, the name “Jefferson Starship” was retired. The remaining members of Jefferson Starship at that point morphed into “Starship” and enjoyed continued success.


In 1992, Kantner returned to touring life and revived the name “Jefferson Starship”. True to its legacy, the members have changed over time, but the heart and the magic of all those hits remain. Paul Kantner died in 2016.


Currently, the Jefferson Starship lineup features founding member David Freiberg, along with Donny Baldwin, Jude Gold, Cathy Richardson, and Chris Smith.  

Music has the power to transport us to other places,

other times and sometimes even to other worlds.

Let's go together, right now. 

David Freiberg


Co- founder David Freiberg also started another Fillmore- era San Francisco band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, who often shared the bill with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. David is a world class singer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. He was also a member of Jefferson Airplane, and co- wrote one of Jefferson Starship’s all-time biggest hits, “Jane” – which he sings. David is the band's Buddha and guru. If you get into the same room with David, you will be blessed.

Donny Baldwin


Donny Baldwin became part of the San Francisco music scene in the early 70s having grown up there. From 1973 to 1978 Donny was with the Elvin Bishop Band. During this time he toured and recorded six albums, which included the #1 hit single, Fooled Around and Fell In Love. Donny was a member of Jefferson Starship from 1981 to 1989. In January 1994, he joined the Jerry Garcia Band. He has toured and recorded with Kenny Loggins, Pablo Cruise, Chuck Berry, Van Morrison, Ronnie Montrose, Greg Allman, Heart, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, .38 Special and Eddie Money. Donny returned to Jefferson Starship in 2008. His driving, rock solid grooves are the backbone and his super- high harmonies provide a glorious sheen to the sound of the band.

Cathy Richardson


Cathy Richardson joined Jefferson Starship in 2008, and anchors the historic role made famous by Grace Slick. Her credits include fronting her own bands- CRB, Macrodots and Nelson Street Revival- producing and releasing seven independent albums. She was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Art Direction of Cathy Richardson Band’s 2003 release, The Road to Bliss. She starred as Janis Joplin in the original Off Broadway cast of Love, Janis and also in Chicago, Sag Harbor, NY, San Francisco, Phoenix and Tucson and has toured the US as lead singer with Janis' original band, Big Brother and the Holding Co. Cathy recently released a download-only single, What I Am, available on iTunes. 

Chris Smith


Chris Smith joined Jefferson Starship in 1998, instantly winning the job of keyboardist, after touring with the Supremes and Lou Bega. Chris' film and television music has been heard on dozens of shows including the #1 rated series “CSI” and the Academy Awards telecast. In 2000, he assumed the seeming impossible task of playing piano AND (synth) bass simultaneously. Chris has been keyboardist longer than any in the band’s history. Chris grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut and currently resides in the Bay Area. 

Jude Gold


Lead guitarist Jude Gold joined Jefferson Starship in the summer of 2012 and is proud to have rocked 18 countries with the band—15 of them with the group’s late, great founder, Paul Kantner. An editor at Guitar Player magazine, Jude has also played lead guitar on the American Country Awards with Kristin Chenoweth, toured India with prog-rock virtuoso Greg Howe, rocked Southeast Asia with BX3, funked out at the Virgin Music Festival with DJ Miguel Migs, crisscrossed America with JGB (featuring original members of the Jerry Garcia Band, including longtime Jefferson Starship/Starship drummer Donny Baldwin), and accompanied both Jefferson Starship founding member David Freiberg and Jefferson Starship frontwoman Cathy Richardson at their solo shows.