Hear 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.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2017. It’s a favorite, and today we’re bring­ing it back for an encore.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Grace Slick Wrote “White Rab­bit”: The 1960s Clas­sic Inspired by LSD, Lewis Car­roll, Miles Davis’ Sketch­es of Spain, and Hyp­o­crit­i­cal Par­ents

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 tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (15)
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  • Rod says:

    The air­plane always one of my fav. Groups.

  • Charles Trettel says:

    Grace has one of the great­est voic­es ever. Peri­od !!

  • Michael Ide says:

    Darned if I did­n’t just have a flash back to 1972. Whoa! I’m glad to be a proud fol­low­er of the Christ now, however,it is great to remem­ber where I was ran­somed from. May Jesus touch every­one who reads this, because He is com­ing back soon to claim His own Be one of His fol­low­ers or be lost. I love you all ❤️ God bless and give you His sal­va­tion.

  • Don Brown says:

    Thanks for both ver­sions. I am a 73yo total­ly dis­abled VN vet and I have always loved Jef­fer­son Air­plane and the music still gets me through some rough patch­es. Thanks Again.

  • Jan Kunzman says:

    Thanks for all of these clips! I love Grace and nev­er ever get tired of the whole White Rab­bit sound. It takes me back to 1968 and a whole dif­fer­ent world. I am 78 now.

  • dfhno6 says:

    I’ve heard so, so many vocal­ists in con­cert going back almost 60 years now — sim­ply fan­tas­tic world-class singers like Joan Baez and Chelsea Wolfe and Aretha Franklin and Zola Jesus, count­less oth­ers — but the best of all was Grace Slick the only time I heard her in a live per­for­mance (1975, in Den­ver; yeah, she sang “White Rab­bit”, of course). The best.

  • Alan says:

    Saw the Air­plane sev­er­al times over the years. First in late’67, spring of’68 and spring of ‘69. As it might be sur­mised, the band was an all time favorite. I don’t care if Grace sang a cook­book, I would have bought it. Hear­ing this iso­la­tion vocal is absolute­ly amaz­ing.
    I’ve met her twice. Inter­est­ing, well thought out respons­es, smart ass sense of humor intact. The music world — and ours — has been made all the rich­er for her being here.

  • Paul Householder says:

    I’ve always called it the hip­pie anthem of all time.. grow­ing up in the 70’s was an awe­some Era to be a teenag­er.

  • Irene Osborn says:

    Yes, Great song, Great voice. I love that song, music words and Grace Slick each time I hear it. Thank Grace Slick and her tal­ent. No Non­sense. Sin­cere­ly, Irene Osborn.….. I hope Ms Slick is doing well

  • Mike says:


  • Sharron Kaye Arturi says:

    First heard this in San Fran­cis­co on the radio, loved song way back then, love it still 2024 “White Rab­bit” 🐇 coolest song 🥰💜

  • Sharron Kaye Arturi says:

    Loved this song way back then, love it still 2024 “White Rab­bit” 🐇 coolest song 🥰💜

  • Dick hertz says:


  • Dick hertz says:


  • Dave Tice says:

    It takes all kinds of expe­ri­ences to make up human life.
    I’m 72 years old and I know now that,for me, there was no chance that I would ever be any­thing but a Chris­t­ian.
    My Mom and Dad were young devout Chris­tians when they were mar­ried (in the sanc­tu­ary of what is now the music venue The Taber­na­cle (sp?) in Atlanta. I know that they had planned their life togeth­er and I was the first child of that plan.
    Dad­dy was raised by a devout, devout Chris­t­ian, a prayer-cen­tered woman and her hus­band who was a lino­typer at the AtlantaJournal/Constitution and a drinker ’til my father was 9, when he con­tract­ed pneu­mo­nia and near­ly died. Grand­dad­dy bar­gained with God for my Dad’s life: “Please don’t take my boy, and I will nev­er touch anoth­er drop.
    He was as good as his word.
    Dad­dy lived.
    He grew there in East Atlanta and joined the Navy after grad­u­at­ing from Grady H.S. and was sent to the South Pacif­ic to fight. The Japan­ese Impe­r­i­al Navy. The War was won, he came home (hav­ing giv­en his life to Jesus while on duty). He had a plan and he car­ried it out. He and Mom mar­ried and he went to school on the G.I.Bill.
    I am cer­tain that Mom and Dad prayed before retir­ing on the night I was con­ceived. And the next morn­ing they prayed when they awak­ened as I was begin­ing to become the per­son I am.
    But, I digress.
    I’m mar­ried (25 years) to the Moth­er of my twins who are young adults now..They have three old­er sib­lings.
    We are very hap­py togeth­er. I pray and med­i­tate every day and am amazed that as a young man (17 years old in 1969) I was fas­ci­nat­ed with the Bea­t­les spir­i­tu­al pur­suits.
    As a step in my recov­ery from addic­tion I made prayer and med­i­ta­tion a part of my prac­tice each day.
    And I have found the path to peace for which I began search­ing all those years ago.
    The word “wit­ness” in Greek “mar­ty­ros” from which, of course, comes our word mar­tyr. We want to know Christ? We tell the sto­ry of His life.
    Our lives tell the sto­ry.
    May Prov­i­dence grant that I live my life so that oth­ers see Jesus in me.
    God Bless You, Friend.🌹🙏❤😁🙏

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