In Artist Biography, Music

Jorma Kaukonen: Front Row Seat to the 60’s.

Few decades in America are as defined and culturally rich as the 1960’s.  The era is responsible for some of the greatest music in the history of rock.  Listen to any 60’s band and you are immediately taken back in time. The music was a reflection of the passion and protest of the people.  The mental shift that took place in the 60’s can still can be felt present day. There are many legendary stories that can be told of the generation.  Jorma Kaukonen’s new book entitled “Been So Long: My Life and Music” is a front row seat into a world of music, drugs, and fame in the hippie 60’s.  

In “Been So Long: My Life and Music,” Jorma Kaukonen reflects about his life,    music and the artistry that defined the 60’s and found success.  This Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist is best known for being the legendary guitarist for Jefferson   Airplane. He was a major part of the super-group that produced hits like, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”.  These are era defining songs that still get constant radio play 50 years later. Getting his start with other great San Francisco artists like Jimmy Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, Kaukonen was there from the          beginning. He played Altamonte, Monterey and Woodstock. These concerts are at the heart of 60’s music and this guy was around to see it all.

In the book Kaukonen draws a contrast between the artists and the fans who flocked to their shows.  He writes that the artists were not all drug induced artist like many have come to think. While drugs, alcohol, and a fear of monogamy were always present, these artists were professional musicians.  He states that he and his music peers did not look at themselves as hippies or drop-outs. They were successful artists that had reached a high level of success and the money that comes with it. They were not living in a beat-up old Volkswagen.  These were mega stars with mansions in San Francisco. They had rich people problems. They did not share the same life as their fans.

Kaukonen’s “Been So Long: My Life and Music,”  is not filled with endless stories of drugs, sex and parties but a clear look at a time in music that caused huge and lasting change to our culture.  Kaukonen’s honest and humorous telling of his past experiences is an amazing look at a time that many wish they could relive. Now 77, Jorma Kaukonen is still touring and active on the music scene.  He also developed a musical retreat in rural Ohio called the Fur Peace Ranch. At the ranch, Kaukonen brings students and professional musicians together to get instruction and hear the stories first hand.

Written by Michael Brigger

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