Listen to Grace Slick’s Hair-Raising Vocals in the Isolated Track for “White Rabbit” (1967)

“One pill makes you larg­er and one pill makes you small…”

Some­time in the sum­mer of 2016, this iso­lat­ed track of Grace Slick’s vocals for “White Rab­bit”–prob­a­bly the most famous Jef­fer­son Air­plane song and def­i­nite­ly one of the top ten psy­che­del­ic songs of the late ‘60s–popped up YouTube. As these things go, nobody took cred­it, but every­body on the Inter­net was thank­ful.

Drenched in echo, Slick sings with mar­tial pre­ci­sion, com­plete­ly in com­mand of her vibra­to and dip­ping and ris­ing all through the Phry­gian scale (also known as the Span­ish or Gyp­sy scale.) And no won­der, the song was writ­ten in 1965 after an LSD trip at her Marin coun­ty home where Slick had lis­tened to Miles Davis’ Sketch­es of Spain over and over again for 24 hours. Com­pare the orig­i­nal ver­sion to Davis’ track “Solea” to hear what I mean.

Bob Irwin, who was in charge of remas­ter­ing Jef­fer­son Airplane’s cat­a­log in 2003, was the first to hear Slick’s iso­lat­ed vocals after many, many years:

When you put up the mul­ti- tracks of the per­for­mances to some­thing like “White Rab­bit” and iso­late Grace’s vocal…you can’t believe the inten­si­ty in that vocal. It’s hair-rais­ing, and absolute­ly unbe­liev­able. I was telling Bill Thomp­son about that. It’s not that I’m so well-sea­soned that noth­ing sur­pris­es me, but boy oh boy, when I put that mul­ti up and I heard Grace’s vocal solo-ed—and it’s absolute­ly whis­per-qui­et, there’s not an ounce of leak­age in there at all—-you can hear every breath drawn and the inten­si­ty and the con­cen­tra­tion…

Inter­est­ing­ly, when Slick wrote the song, Air­plane hadn’t start­ed. Instead she was in a band called The Great Soci­ety, and the orig­i­nal jam ver­sion doesn’t do jus­tice to the com­po­si­tion.

Rhythm gui­tarist David Minor recalled that the song came out of a song­writ­ing request to the oth­er mem­bers of the band.

“When we start­ed work­ing, nobody had any­thing because I couldn’t write any more,” he recalls. “I was too busy keep­ing up with my var­i­ous jobs. So Grace’s hus­band Jer­ry chal­lenged them: ‘What are you gonna do? Let David write all the songs?’ Y’know, ‘Do some­thing!’. So Dar­by came back with a cou­ple of songs and Grace came back with White Rab­bit.”

When the Great Soci­ety fell apart, Jef­fer­son Air­plane chose Slick as their singer in 1966 and she brought with her “White Rab­bit.” The rest is rock his­to­ry, and a large part of the now-retired Slick’s income.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Jazzy Spies: 1969 Psy­che­del­ic Sesame Street Ani­ma­tion, Fea­tur­ing Grace Slick, Teach­es Kids to Count

Dick Clark Intro­duces Jef­fer­son Air­plane & the Sounds of Psy­che­del­ic San Fran­cis­co to Amer­i­ca: Yes Par­ents, You Should Be Afraid (1967)

Jef­fer­son Air­plane Plays on a New York Rooftop; Jean-Luc Godard Cap­tures It (1968)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (50)
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  • Randy Wood says:

    Sim­ply bril­liant. Grace is a beau­ti­ful tal­ent­ed and under appre­ci­at­ed lady. One of my true musi­cal heroes of the 60s. I must admit to a slight crush on both her and Lin­da Laflamme at that point in time. Those were the days my friend.

  • Woodrow Lee says:

    Usu­al­ly a cliche: hair-rais­ing.

    Not this time.

  • ronnie d says:

    Haunt­ing per­fec­tion “amaz­ing Gra­cie”

  • Larry says:

    WOW! That was one of the most pow­er­ful vocal per­for­mances I have ever heard. She had her­self a hell of a set of pipes.


    I liked it.Usually, I don’t like my music messed with.Whether it’s oth­er artists or rehashing.But this was real­ly good and I’m glad I stopped by. Gra­cie is one icon­ic legend.Good stuff !!!

  • Omar Gonzalez says:

    I would put that against any opera singer any day. Great art does­n’t only come from the “clas­si­cal”.

  • Chillheimer says:

    “With the iso­lat­ed track out there in the Inter­net wilder­ness it wasn’t too long until the remix­ers came to give it a new home. Here’s one of my favorites:”

    So this is why my inbox has explod­ed the last days.. ;)
    Just a lit­tle cor­rec­tion I did this remix rough­ly 17 years ago using the full mix, which is why you can hear bass&drums as well.


  • bob self says:

    PROOF that miss slick had/was/IS the great­est voice in the his­to­ry of rock!! no one else comes close- pitch-phras­ing-deliv­ery- SHE HAS IT ALL

  • bob self says:

    YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ronald Grinter says:

    Will have this remix played at my funer­al. Gra­cie the best

  • Hugh Terry says:

    I thought Paul Kant­ner said life was ‘almost per­fect’ for two weeks in 1967, not 25 min­utes.
    But maybe that was Jer­ry Gar­cia… (“Then the door shut. BANG!!”)

  • Carol Twyman says:

    Grace’s voice was beau­ti­ful and unique, and with a good range. Loved her then. Love her now.

  • Andrew Hyatt Masset says:

    From the 1st time i heard this song in NYC 1966 to this very day..Still floored by the pow­er, phras­ing, emo­tion and lyrics of a bril­liant artist who leaves noth­ing on the table..Full out..15.…of 10. Tears and years…Thanks lady..

  • Phillip says:

    Shock­ing then and just as shock­ing now!

    Good work Ms Slick thank you.

  • Blue Trombone says:

    Wow! Thanks for shar­ing the iso. .…… Always enjoyed the full ver­sion. Amaz­ing Grace!

  • Fleischauer says:

    Grace came to KJR Seat­tle to pro­mote “mir­a­cles” by the Star­ship in 1976. Could­n’t have been nicer. So gra­cious and had a new Insta­mat­ic cam­era. She took pic­tures of the staff and hand­ed each per­son an instant pic­ture of them­selves. Oh yeq, she had one blue con­tact lens with a dark star in it! One hell of a singer. I WAS just lis­ten­ing to “Tri­ad” by the Air­plane and the Byrds ver­sion of the song. She just KILLED it. Love her!!!

  • Thomas Sansing says:

    The range in Grace Slicks voice was unique and beau­ti­ful, just can’t be beat.

  • MikeCogswell says:

    My all time favorite song by my all time favorite singer.

    It still blows me away every time I hear, 53 years lat­er!!!

  • Leo says:

    I won­der how Grace would have sound­ed backed by big broth­er and hold­ing com­pa­ny

    They mas­tered the art of backing..not drown­ing out

  • john senchak says:

    Her voice is being run through a echo cham­ber

  • MountainKeep304 says:

    Scarce­ly hair-rais­ing. Just iso­lat­ed from the record­ed song. Yawn.

  • Buster Maxwell says:

    MountainKeep304. … Oh, wow, man… you are like such a buz­zkill, dude.

  • ellis mellinger says:

    Per­fect con­trol. She has “Intel­li­gent eyes”.

  • Linda Robertson says:

    One of the 3 great­est voic­es in rock along with Lin­da Ron­stadt and Anne Anne Wil­son

  • Steve Muhlberger says:

    A cou­ple of yeas ago Iwas lis­ten­ing to ear­ly Air­plane. It was lots bet­ter than I remem­bered, esp Wood­en Ships.

  • Karma says:

    I was often told I resem­bled
    Grace Slick

  • miss duck says:

    Those are 3 greats, no doubt. How about Cass Elliot?

  • bob self says:

    she was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much bet­ter than Joplin now, I would have loved to hear her duet with jim mor­ri­son the two best 60s voic­es

  • Mary Cooper says:

    Yes I would have loved hear­ing her with
    Jim­my Morrison.Now that would have been a duet.Two poets with beau­ti­ful tor­tured
    souls.No one today can come even close
    I for­got how tru­ly awe­some and per­fect
    pitched her voice is.

  • Frank Cizek says:

    Besides her great voice, I LOVE the image of Grace & Janis togeth­er! I’d pay to have that one for my wall!

  • andrew williams says:

    I agree that the Air­plane’s ver­sion of “White Rab­bit” is supe­ri­or to the Great Soci­ety’s ver­sion. How­ev­er, I would argue that the Soci­ety’s ver­sion of “Some­body to Love” is supe­ri­or to the Air­plane’s. The proof is in the pud­ding, which is here:

  • Wayne Chaddick says:

    The great­est ladiy hit Grace and Janis

  • Wayne Chaddick says:

    The great­est ladiy hit Grace and Janis I agree

  • Tom Weiner says:

    I played drums in The Flow­ers of Evil, one of the open­ing bands for the con­cert that night at the Coconut Grove in San­ta Cruz, Grace’s first gig with the Air­plane. We had no idea that she would go on to become one of the great musi­cal icons of all time.

  • Brion Kerlin says:

    Whooooah? Way too much echo. A great singer, with a great song does­n’t need her voice rad­i­cal­ly altered by some stoned techie on the sound­board. This only dis­torts and under­mines her amaz­ing nat­ur­al unal­tered pipes. Gra­cie was co-opt­ed in the stu­dio. JMO

  • Tacoma TR says:

    Always inter­est­ing and cool to hear and learn of clas­sic and icon­ic music clips and infor­ma­tion. Years lat­er, Grace Slick was inter­viewed on KISW radio, Seat­tle, cir­ca 2005ish? I was “lucky” enough to get through on the radio to ask her a ques­tion. I asked her if, dur­ing her career, there was one par­tic­u­lar Musi­cian, musi­cal artist or oth­er­wise notable/famous per­son she’d always want­ed to meet but nev­er got the chance. Dis­ap­point­ing­ly, she said that she was­n’t inter­est­ed in dis­cussing her music or per­form­ing years, she was there to dis­cuss her painting(s). I was sore­ly dis­ap­point­ed. Look up her paintings/art now and it seems to most­ly cen­ter around those very years.

  • Trevor Leppard says:

    Can any­one tell me. Where can I pur­chase the chill­heimer remix of white rab­bit?

  • Ellin Callvis says:

    Quote — “com­plete­ly in com­mand of her vibra­to” — but it is a glo­tus vibra­to.… either it is on or off, same speed always. A lack of stan­dard vibra­to?

  • Bradley says:

    Yo this guy s f’d fr.

  • John scobey says:

    Yeah but We Built This City On Rock And Roll

  • Diane Price says:

    I WAS a “hip­pie” back in those days.…White Rab­bit was my anthem…The entire album: Sur­re­al­is­tic Pil­low spoke volumes.….BUT !! It was, and always will be Graces’s incred­i­ble voice in Rab­bit !!!

  • Tamara Ponischil says:

    Awe­some stuff! How does this old hip­pie sub­scribe and share?

  • Preston Burton says:

    thank you for tak­ing the time to both share these (espe­cial­ly the iso­lat­ed voice which must of us have nev­er heard) as well as telling well, the back sto­ry very well and sol­id!

  • Ralph Noyes says:

    I would add Sandy Den­ny, Tina Turn­er, and Joni Mitchell to your list of the great­est vocal­ists.

  • Mike (Moby) Diack says:

    What is the effect on her voice — EMT Plate reverb?. Seems too clean for 1960’s prim­i­tive dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy.

  • Timothy( wally) briggs says:

    Most amaz­ing­ly tal­ent­ed singer of all time. Gra­cie is right up there with janis and the rest of the female vocal­ist of the 60’s actu­al­ly #1 in my book

  • Maryanne says:

    Thanks for shar­ing, its amaz­ing.

  • malik.amir says:

    I read your post . Amaz­ing arti­cl.

  • Seth says:

    And you won­der where the opera singers were dur­ing the 1960s.

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