Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner dies at 74Mr. Kantner, a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane, was 74 and had suffered a heart attack this week. The Airplane was renowned for thrilling vocal gymnastics by singers Marty Balin, Grace Slick and Mr. Kantner, the psychedelic blues-rock sound developed by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady and the LSD-spiked, ’60s-era revolutionary fervor of its lyrics. The band was formed in 1965 in a Union Street bar called the Drinking Gourd, when Balin met Mr. Kantner and expressed his interest in creating a “folk-rock” band. The Airplane was the first of the so-called “San Francisco sound” bands to sign a recording contract with a major label, and in August of 1966, its debut album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” was released. Slick joined the band a year later and songs like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” became national hits as the love children came streaming into San Francisco. The group quickly became an integral part of the ’60s rock scene, from the Matrix club to Golden Gate Park’s “Human Be-In” to Monterey Pop. The Airplane’s high point may have been its sterling early-morning performance at Woodstock, while its nadir may have come only months later, at the violence-plagued Altamont concert, when Balin was knocked unconscious by the rampaging Hells Angels. After the band was grounded by feuds and a lawsuit, Mr. Kantner and Slick transformed the group into Jefferson Starship in 1974, taking the name from a Kantner solo album. A sometimes prickly, often sarcastic musician who kept his own counsel and routinely enraged his old bandmates — they sued him for trademark infringement (and settled) after he started his own version of Jefferson Starship in 1991 — Mr. Kantner became something of a landmark on the San Francisco music scene, the only member of the band still living in town. Mr. Kantner was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the Jefferson Airplane during the band’s glory years — from the breakthrough 1967 “Surrealistic Pillow” album through Woodstock and Altamont. Aidin Vaziri is the San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic.