Some Jefferson Airplane Members Only Get $3.98 When Their Hits Played on the Radio
via Jefferson Airplane / Youtube
Inside the music industry, you can’t always get what you want. For you to experience fame, you need to have the talent and desire to rise high above the rest. However, even if you do have those characteristics, it’s not always a guarantee that the industry will pay you a big, fat check afterward, and Jefferson Airplane is a real testament to such reality.
Jefferson Airplane’s first album, titled simply Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was released in 1969. It didn’t go well, but the band’s next album, Surrealistic Pillow, became a smash. Surrealistic Pillow featured the band’s two biggest successes, “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.” These two songs helped propelled the album’s popularity and made Jefferson Airplane a household name for years.
In an interview with Forbes, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen explained how the two albums differ in terms of public reception. “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off was a folk-rock album while Surrealistic Pillow is rock ‘n’ roll and the songs are less than three minutes,” Kaukonen explained. “I do remember when I heard Grace [Slick] sing the song [Somebody to Love], and ‘White Rabbit,’ too, I went, ‘Wow.’ To music geeks, that was her Erik Satie period. There was a lot of nifty stuff.”
He continued: “It’s important to note that Surrealistic Pillow was recorded on just four tracks, no noise reduction. So, you couldn’t overdub more than once or you would degrade the track. You had to nail the parts — you really had just one chance.”
On the Billboard Hot 100, “White Rabbit” peaked at position No. 8, remaining on the chart for a total of ten weeks. Meanwhile, “Somebody to Love” reached position No. 5 on the chart and remained there for a total of 15 weeks. However, despite its popularity, Kaukonen explained that the band only gets $3.98 for its mechanical royalties. “We only get mechanical royalties of $3.98 when it’s played on the radio,” he said. “But still, every time a check comes, that’s $3.98 more than you had before you opened the envelope.”