Interview: David Freiberg Talks Jefferson Starship Legacy and a Future Including Drive-In Concerts


Jefferson Starship evolved out of the San Francisco hippie band, Jefferson Airplane, so this musical collective’s roots go way back. Now, the group is set to play a drive-in concert at the OC Fair Even Center on Sunday, October 18, with shows at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Jefferson Starship is a good example of how you just can’t keep a good band down.

David Freiberg is not only a current touring member of Jefferson Starship, but was also in Jefferson Airplane and a co-founding member of Quicksilver Messenger Service before that. He certainly has seen a lot in his time, and now he’s going to experience his first Covid-19-inspired drive-in concert. Even a global pandemic can’t keep this band down.

California Rocker: Rolling Stone has described you as “Starship’s most outwardly easygoing member.” Rock stars can many times be really uptight, so how have you been able to keep your easygoing reputation alive?

David Freiberg: I don’t really know – I guess I like most people – and I get to play music for a living – who could ask for anything more?  I’ve always tried to respect other folks’ feelings and for the last 30 years, I’ve been a practicing Buddhist, trying to see the Buddha in everyone.  Sometimes it’s not so apparent – but I KNOW it’s in there, somewhere.

California Rocker: You’re scheduled to do a drive-in concert at the OC Event Center on October 18. Have you done one of these drive-in shows yet? If yes, how would you describe the experiences. What would you say are the pros and cons of such shows?

Freiberg: No, this is our first drive-in.  Looking forward to see how it works out – can’t wait to play!!

Paul Freiberg - Courtesy
Paul Freiberg – Courtesy

California Rocker: When you play concerts these days, you’re carrying on the legacy of two iconic bands (not to mention Quicksilver Messenger Service), so what are some of the pressures you face with regard to the audience’s expectations?

Freiberg: I rejoined Paul (Kantner) in Jefferson Starship over 15 years ago – Chris Smith has been playing with JS for 22 years – Cathy Richardson for 13 years (though she’s been a huge fan since she was a teenager) and Jude Gold is the baby – only 8 years.   We all jelled as a band playing with Paul until he passed away in January of 2016.  We felt so close to each other that we knew we had to keep playing together.   When Paul’s family asked us to continue, we were delighted – we all respected and loved the whole “Jefferson” experience.  We have such a good time playing that we don’t feel any pressure.  This will be our first gig together since February 28th!!

California Rocker: While performing these days, what are some of your favorite moments during the set?

Freiberg: That’s a tough one – it could be a different song every night.  It’s always amazing to me, when Cathy and I are singing together without our guitars – it’s kind of stunning to hear how BIG a sound is being made by only three instrumentalists.

California Rocker: Sadly, many great members of the Jefferson bands have since passed on. Are there moments when you sense the presence of their ghosts while performing? If so, when?

Freiberg: We miss Paul and Marty (Balin) all the time.  I pray that they’ll come through us.  I’m not one who sees or feels ghosts but I believe other band members might.

California Rocker: Can you tell me at least one funny Grace Slick story?

Frieberg: When I was touring with Jefferson Airplane in 1972 – in NYC (Gaelic Park, I believe) it began pouring down rain and we were thinking we’d have to stop, Grace and a girl called Sunshine decided that, if they took off their tops, the sun would HAVE to shine.  The view was lovely – the rain slowed up and I do believe we finished the concert.