In one of the great tragic cosmic coincidences, Jefferson Airplane’s Signe Toly Anderson has died on the same day as the band’s singer/guitarist Paul Kantner. Anderson was only with the band for the first album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off released in 1966. Both Anderson and original drummer Skip Spence were replaced by the better known Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden for the next album, Surrealistic Pillow released in 1967.
Takes Off painted Jefferson Airplane as much more of a Folk Rock band than a Psychedelic band with Anderson playing more of a role as harmony singer, although she sang lead vocal on her signature song Chauffeur Blues. The original song was by Memphis Minnie coincidently from 1941 the year that Anderson was born. Anderson had a powerful contralto voice with some trembling vibrato, her deep tones created a unique glue between Kantner and Marty Balin in three part harmony.
Anderson, decided to leave Jefferson Airplane because she was pregnant with her first child, she decided that it simply wasn’t going to work being on the road and she returned to Portland where she had grown up. Originally married to Merry Prankster, Jerry Anderson and father of her child they divorced after nine years. She continued to be involved in music and joined Carl Smith And The Natural Gas Company, probably more of a local concern allowing her to be at home and be with her family.
Anderson survived cancer in the seventies but was dogged by health problems her whole life. In 1977 she married Michael Ettlin, he died in 2011 at the age of 62. (Anderson was 74 years old). RIP. Condolences to friends an family.