Spencer Dryden

Accomplished jazz drummer Spencer Dryden joined Jefferson Airplane in 1966 just as the inimitable Grace Slick replaced Signe Anderson, and he rode the new-wave psychedelic crest with that also inimitable band from small club to Monterey Pop and big arena success. Recognized as one of the big-three in early rock drummer history, he shared the honors with Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, Dryden was almost ten-years older than the average Airplane. He deftly adapted his drumming style and power to accommodate the music, notably Surrealistic Pillow, and the acoustic requirements of the larger venues, but his spiritual fit was always a bit uncomfortable. Dryden left Airplane after Volunteers in 1969, and whether his departure was his or the band's decision was a moot point since Dryden wanted out and the band was edging closer to collapse than creative anyway. Dryden played with Paul Kanter and then joined New Riders of the Purple Sage, his home for seven years. He was one of the Bay Area's respected veterans in the '80s, playing with the Dinosaurs, but dissed the Jefferson Airplane 1989 reunion tour and album. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Airplane in 1996, Dryden's later years were not lucky. His home was destroyed by fire in 2003, and he died of unrelated health problems in January, 2005.

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