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"smiles and daisies and box balloons"

Hello from the History Department.

On Thursday, January 28, not one but two members of Jefferson Airplane passed away - Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson, both 74 years old.

Anderson was raised in Portland and sang lead vocals on the band's debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (1966). Shortly thereafter, she decided that life on the road was not for her and her newborn baby (with husband Jerry Anderson, one of the Merry Pranksters). She also had concerns about the record contracts the band was being offered by RCA Records.

Her last live performances with Jefferson Airplane were two sets on October 15, 1966, at The Fillmore. Her sign-off to the fans after that second set was: "I want you all to wear smiles and daisies and box balloons. I love you all. Thank you and goodbye." Grace Slick took over vocals for the Jefferson Airplane the following evening.

Anderson returned to Oregon where she raised two daughters and sang for nine years with a ten-piece band, Carl Smith & The Natural Gas Company. The band frequently performed at a new jazz club called Riddles, the space occupied today by Zeus Café in the Crystal Hotel - and in fact, they were featured at the hotel's grand opening in 2011 (alas, without Signe's vocals, due to health issues that prevented her from performing). And of course we named one of the hotel's rooms for her, where she's shown below, in front of her portrait by McMenamins artist Olivia Behm. She delighted in seeing her painted self wearing a favorite shirt she remembered from her Airplane days.

Signe's former bandmates posted touching tributes to her on social media this past weekend:

"One sweet Lady has passed on. I imagine that she and Paul woke up in heaven and said ‘Hey what are you doing here? Let's start a band' and no sooner then said [late drummer] Spencer was there joining in! Heartfelt thoughts to all their family and loved ones." - Marty Balin, founding member and a lead singer of JA

"I got a call from Grace [Slick] who told me that Signe, the Airplane's first female voice, passed on the same day as Paul. Signe was one of the strongest people I have ever met. She was our den mother in the early days of the Airplane... a voice of reason on more occasions than one... an important member of our dysfunctional little family. I always looked forward to seeing her when we played the Aladdin in Portland. She never complained and was always a joy." - Jorma Kaukonen, founding member of JA and the still-touring Hot Tuna

"I was just informed of the passing of Signe Anderson, the same day as we lost Paul. Signe was our, Jefferson Airplane's first female singer. I had been in touch with Signe this past week as she had moved from her home to hospice care. She was a real sweetheart with a terrific contralto voice coming from a solid folk background. Listen to how she made the three part harmonies of JA Takes Off (first album) sound so thick...her wonderful tone between Paul's and Marty's. A sad day .....for those of us still here. RIP Signe." - Jack Casady, JA bassist

Here's the sound of Signe and JA performing "High Flyin' Bird" off their debut album.

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