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Former Jefferson Starship Bandmates Headed to Court

Grunt / RCA
Grunt / RCA

Former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico is suing to prevent two former bandmates from continuing to perform under the group’s name.

The AP reports that Chaquico is alleging a number of misdeeds on the Jefferson Starship front, claiming that the group’s current incarnation — linked to the past by multi-instrumentalist David Freiberg and drummer Donny Baldwin — is operating without permission and in direct violation of an agreement to retire the band name more than 30 years ago.

As fans are aware, the Jefferson Starship name was subsequently revived by guitarist Paul Kantner, who put together a new lineup in 1992. But according to Chaquico, that iteration of the group was operating under a temporary license that expired with Kantner’s death in 2016, and he’s acting now to preserve the band’s reputation — and prevent the current lineup from using his image to promote its shows.

“This case is about tarnishing the legacy of the original Jefferson Starship band,” Chaquico said in a statement. “We retired the name in 1985 and we agreed that nobody would use the name again. For this band lineup to tour and call itself Jefferson Starship is woefully misleading to the public and confuses longtime fans.”

Unsurprisingly, that isn’t how Freiberg and Baldwin see things. Upon returning to the road following Kantner’s death, this version of Jefferson Starship claimed to have been given a lifetime license to use the band name by former singer Grace Slick — and as singer Cathy Richardson argued, to carry forward the legacy Chaquico says he’s trying to protect.

“A family doesn’t break up when a loved one dies, they grieve and they remember and they carry on,” said Richardson when announcing the band’s 2017 tour. “We do it for Paul, and for Grace, as much as we do it for ourselves, and especially for the fans for whom this music means so much. We do it for the kids who are just discovering the music now.”

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