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Jefferson Starship drummer John Barbata dead at 79

Jefferson Starship and Jefferson Airplane drummer John Barbata has died aged 79.

The musician is reported to have passed away on May 8. A cause of death is not known at this time.

Barbata also played with the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Turtles, and The Sentinels.

A statement on Jefferson Starship’s official Facebook page read: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of the great John Barbata, Jefferson Starship’s original drummer. Our thoughts go our to his family, friends and fans. Rock in peace, Johnny!”

In a tribute, they wrote: “Rest in Peace, John Barbata, a legendary drummer for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.

“Known for his exceptional talent, John left his mark on the music world by playing with bands such as The Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Jefferson Airplane, and Jefferson Starship. Back in ’72, during a hiatus for CSNY, David Crosby introduced John to the Airplane, who hired John instantly. You can hear John’s drumming skills on the band’s final studio album, ‘LONG JOHN SILVER’, as well as the live album ‘THIRTY SECONDS OVER WINTERLAND. (sic)'”

He had hits from the onset of his career, with The Turtles’ hit ‘Happy Together’ spending three weeks at No.1 in 1967.

The band, with the drummer in tow, went on to have further hits with ‘She’d Rather Be with Me’, ‘You Showed Me’, ‘She’s My Girl’, and ‘Elenore’.

In 1970, Barbata got an invited to join CSNY after Neil Young fired their previous drummer, Dallas Taylor. Their live album, ‘4 Way Street’, topped the Billboard 200.

It featured the protest song, ‘Ohio’, about the Kent State shootings. As well as several CSNY albums, Barbata also worked with the members individually, appearing on Graham Nash’s ‘Songs for Beginners’ and ‘Wild Tales’, Graham Nash and David Crosby’s ‘Graham Nash David Crosby’, Stephen Stills’ self-titled album, and he replaced Kenny Buttrey with The Stray Gators on Neil Young’s live album ‘Time Fades Away’.

Amid his success with CSNY, David Geffen invited Barbata to join The Eagles, an offer he politely declined.

Barbata was forced to leave Starship, which he joined in 1974, following a serious car crash in 1978, which took him more than a year to recover from.

Although he didn’t return to touring, he did make more records in the 1980s.

He also recorded with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Rivers, Lee Michaels, Ry Cooder and The Ever Brothers, whilst he’s said to have played on more than 60 albums un-credited.

Barbata was among a group of drummers who liked to add stick twirling to their performances.

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