Authors: Grace Slick,Andrea Cagan
If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
WARNER BOOKS EDITION
Copyright © 1998 by Grace Slick
All right reserved.
Cover design by Rachel McClain
Book design and composition by L&G McRee
Warner Books, Inc., Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: December 1999
The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge permission to reprint the following material:
Lyrics from “Philadelphia Freedom,” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Copyright © 1975 Big Pig Music Ltd. All Rights for U.S. administered by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. Canadian Rights administered by Chappell Music Canada Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. Warner Bros. Publications U.S., Inc., Miami, FL 33014
Lyrics from “Somebody to Love,” by Darby Slick. Copyright © Irving Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “White Rabbit,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Irving Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Lather,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Icebag Corp. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Triad,” by David Crosby. Copyright © Stay Straight. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Ride the Tiger,” by Paul Kantner. Copyright © Ronin Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Comin' Back to Me,” by Marty Balin. Copyright © Icebag Corp. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Third Week in the Chelsea,” by Jorma Kaukonen. Copyright © Icebag Corp. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Starship,” by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, and Gary Blackman. Copyright © God Tunes. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Manhole,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Mole Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Do It the Hard Way,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Ronin Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Hyperdrive,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Ronin Music. Used by Permission.
Lyrics from “Panda,” by Grace Slick. Copyright © Helmets Without Heads. Used by Permission.
The World According to Grace
“I've enjoyed the accommodations offered by police departments from Florida to Hawaii. Any time I saw a badge, something in me would snap.”
“The wiser you get on the inside, the uglier you get on the outside. The world's great gurus have beautiful things to say but they generally look like shit.”
“Jim Morrison was a well-built boy, larger than average, and young enough to maintain the engorged silent connection right through the residue of chemicals.”
“In Germany I ingested the entire contents of the hotel minibar before a show and stuck my fingers in this guy's nostrils because I thought they would fit.”
“The first words I ever heard the alcohol rehab counselor say were ‘Good morning, assholes!’ With that, I liked him right away.”
“IT'S HARD NOT TO ADMIRE HER VERVE AND SASS.”
New York Times Book Review
“Provides fascinating backstage glimpses into the halcyon days of hippiedom.”
“Gracefully outrageous … a treasure trove of backstage gossip and psychedelic philosophy.”
San Francisco Examiner
“A fascinating journey … as outrageous and shocking as the days when she used to lift her top to flash a crowd.”
“A fun, emblematic trip.”
“Slick tells her story with unflinching candor and humor.”
Washington Post Book World
“An enjoyable psychedelic pastry, a look back at rock's game of musical beds, and a report on the life's ups and downs (and other drugs).”
—Jerry Hopkins, coauthor of
No One Here Gets Out Alive
“An absurdly readable page-turning blitz. … A delicious, chaotic, splendid hurtle down the rabbit hole—a trip you'll never forget.”
—Pamela Des Barres, author of
I'm with the Band
“I always loved Grace Slick's talent. Until I read this book I didn't know I loved her wisdom and humor as well.”
—Olivia Goldsmith, author of
The First Wives Club
“Slick can't help being somebody to love—she's smart, sarcastic as ever, and ceaselessly funny … [with] a load of wonderfully colorful stories to tell. … A page-turner throughout.”
“A primer for hipsters with irreverent humor, levelheaded wisdom, persistent defiance, and—yes—sprightly grace.”
(Pleasant Hill, CA)
“Frank … highly entertaining. … The era of free love has never been better chronicled.”
“Finally, the last great rock-and-roll story … a smart, well-written tale, told as if it's been shot out of a cannon.”
—Steven Gaines, coauthor of
The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles
“Quite entertaining … Slick's language is so strong it might even make Kenneth Starr blush.”
“Bawdy, boisterous … the unvarnished gospel from a woman guided by passion and freedom of expression.”
—Alanna Nash, music reviewer for
Love to All
Skip Johnson, my friend always
China Kantner, for being exactly who she is
Mom and Dad, for giving me so much more than existence
Chris Wing, for seeing with a child's eyes
Paul Kantner, for humor and invaluable help with my arbitrary memory
Andrea Cagan, for her friendship, her open heart, and her open mind
Brian Rohan, for introducing me to my agent
Maureen Regan, my agent, for talking me into doing this book and getting the “big bucks,” respectively—and for her boundless energy in both personal and business situations
Rick Horgan, my editor, for his suggestions and for letting me play
The Great Society, Airplane, and Starship groups and all associates, for their talent and support
Sister Pat Monahan, for Bucky and for her ability to listen
Vincent Marino, for damn near unconditional love
Ron Neiman, for beautifying the outside and putting up with the inside of my head
Justin Davis, for his unique self and his photograph
And of course, to all the people who've followed our music through the years
In writing this book, my cowriter, Andrea, and I
attempted to proceed by having her ask me questions, after which she'd go to her computer, armed with notes, and construct a scenario around a sentence or paragraph taken from our conversations. The results were sounding disjointed, so we tried a different tack.
The second, ultimately successful method involved Andrea's giving me a foundation for each chapter by providing a list of topics she'd heard me discuss, at which point I'd write down my recollection or interpretation of that aspect of my life. Andrea (being the pro) then organized my thoughts and my horrendous punctuation. I can construct an interesting scene and create plausible dialogue, but distinguishing between colons and semicolons has always struck me as something akin to gastrointestinal surgery.
Yup, these are my words, with the help of the runway, the mechanic, and the control tower.
By the way, several of the names in this story have been changed to protect the guilty.
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend
t's Chicago, 1973. Jefferson Airplane is tuning up and I'm standing onstage getting ready to sing. Some guy in the audience stands up and shouts, “Hey, Gracie—take off your chastity belt.”
I look directly at him and say, “Hey—I don't even wear underpants.” I pull my skirt up over my head for a beaver shot, and the audience explodes with laughter. I can hear the guys in the band behind me muttering, “Oh, Jesus.”
My response to that particular heckle was actually pleasant compared to what I did in Germany, four or five years later, when I was so drunk, I went up to a guy sitting in the front row and picked his nose. It was the night before I left the band for the first time. To be more accurate, I fired myself. Fed up for a variety of reasons I'll discuss later, having ingested the entire contents of the minibar in my hotel room before I arrived at the venue for the show, I stuck my fingers in this guy's nostrils just because I thought they'd probably fit. Luckily, the majority of that particular German audience had never seen us before, so they must have figured we were some kind of punk band and just let it go.
Why did Grace Wing, a well-educated, contented girl who grew up in a
Leave It to Beaver
household, ultimately embrace such a maverick persona?
Well, sarcasm was always a family trait, but the
reason for my tendency toward raucous behavior can best be explained by a 1949 film that I watched when I was a young girl. I recently saw a rerun, and it was all right up there on the screen: a combination of humor and fantasy that was especially appealing to a young child looking for a Technicolor reality.
listing in May 1997:
11:40 (DIS) movie, Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend—comedy (1949) 1:35 Betty Grable.
Love the title.
When I was between the ages of five and nine, the soldiers of the Second World War wanted to
Betty Grable, but I wanted to
Betty Grable. She was the epitome of an alluring woman; she had it all as far as I was concerned.
My mother told me, “She's got caps on her teeth, bleached blonde hair, and no talent.” Mom, being a natural blonde with a mouth full of perfectly straight teeth, was feeling some resentment. But Miss Grable could have been head-to-toe Styrofoam for all I cared. Whatever it was, it worked for me. When I saw that movie, I figured I had all the information I needed to ride through life like an armored blonde goddess.
The opening shot of
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend
takes place in 1895 in a small western town. Betty's in jail, still in the fabulous outfit she was wearing for her evening's saloon singing. She's only slightly put out by being in the slammer, and a friend tells her, “Don't worry, you'll be out in minutes. Nobody liked the guy you shot, anyway.”