Years: 1964 – present
Styles: Blues Rock, Folk Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Jorma Kaukonen - Acoustic guitar , Guitar, Keyboards, Lead guitar, Resonator Guitar [Dobro], Slide guitar, Steel guitar , Vocals (in band: 1964 - present)
Tom Hobson - Acoustic guitar , Vocals
Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen, Jr. is an American blues, folk, and rock guitarist, best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.
Kaukonen learned to play guitar as a teenager in Washington, D.C. s a teenager in Washington he and future Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady (who at the time played six-string guitar) formed a band named The Triumphs.
In 1962 Kaukonen moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and enrolled at Santa Clara University. During this time he taught guitar lessons at Benner Music Company in San Jose. As a self-described blues purist, Kaukonen never had any ambition to play in a rock band. He played as a solo act in coffee houses and can be heard accompanying a young Janis Joplin on acoustic guitar on an historic 1964 recording (known as "The Typewriter Tapes" because of the obtrusive sound of Kaukonen's first wife, Margareta, typing in the background).
Kaukonen is a fingerstyle guitarist, and his distinctive electric guitar work was widely emulated by other Bay Area guitarists. Though never a prolific singer and songwriter during his Airplane tenure, Kaukonen contributed some distinctive material. On the Jefferson Airplane second album, "Surrealistic Pillow", his song "Embryonic Journey" showcased his fingerstyle acoustic guitar virtuosity. On the next album, "After Bathing at Baxter's", his sound had a harder edge inspired by Mike Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Cream, and other touring groups that performed in San Francisco.
Original compositions by Kaukonen on the 1971 Jefferson Airplane album, "Bark" are an instrumental, "Wild Turkey," "Feel So Good," and the acoustic autobiographical "Third Week in the Chelsea," detailing his feelings about the disintegration of the band. For the 1972 "Long John Silver" album he wrote "Trial by Fire", a song which he still plays, and "Eat Starch Mom", a heavy song and the closer of the album, additionally significant for it being possibly the only Kaukonen written song which Grace Slick sings by herself.
In 1969–70, Kaukonen and Jack Casady formed Hot Tuna, a spinoff group that allowed them to play as long as they liked. An early incarnation of Hot Tuna included Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin and featured Joey Covington on drums and vocals. This grouping came to an end after an unsuccessful recording jaunt to Jamaica, the sessions of which have never been released. Pared down to Kaukonen and Casady, Hot Tuna lived on as a vehicle for Kaukonen to show off his Piedmont style acoustic blues fingerpicking skills.
In 1974, Kaukonen recorded the first and most successful of several solo albums, "Quah", together with Tom Hobson. Produced by Jack Casady, and featuring (somewhat surprisingly) string overdubs on some tracks, this album contained some of Kaukonen's most deft fingerpicking work, especially on "Hamar Promenade", "Blue Prelude", "Genesis" and "Flying Clouds". The curious picture that adorns "Quah's" cover is today on display at Donkey Coffee and Espresso, a coffee shop in Athens, Ohio.
In 1979, Kaukonen and Bob Steeler formed the band Hidden Klitz (later White Gland) with bassist Denny DeGorio, who had played in a San Francisco band called The Offs with Steeler. Kaukonen, experimenting with a new image, not only cut his hair but dyed it purple then bright orange, and had extensive tattoos adorn his body, back and arms. Now called Vital Parts, they recorded the album "Barbeque King" which was released in 1980. Kaukonen's traditional fan base did not warm to this new, perceived to be "punk" image, and sales of the album were so disappointing that Jorma was soon dropped from RCA Records.
With his wife Vanessa, Kaukonen currently owns and operates the Fur Peace Ranch, a 119-acre (0.48 km2) music and guitar camp in the hills of southeast Ohio, north of Pomeroy; complete with a 32 track studio. He is currently under contract as a solo artist to Red House Records and still records and tours with Jack Casady and other friends such as Barry Mitterhoff as Hot Tuna. His 2002 album "Blue Country Heart", also released as a 5.1 single layer SACD, was widely acclaimed by critics as one of the definitive examples of American "
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