Jefferson Starship Drummer John Barbata Passed Away At 79

Jefferson Starship Drummer John Barbata Passed Away At 79 | Society Of Rock Videos

via RockBuzz / Youtube

John Barbata, the renowned rock drummer best known for his work with Jefferson Starship during the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 79.

The band honored his memory on their Facebook page, expressing their sorrow:

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of the great John Barbata, Jefferson Starship’s original drummer. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans. Rock in peace, Johnny!”

Best Classic Bands reported that Barbata died on May 8, though the cause of death was not disclosed. Born in New Jersey, Barbata was a foundational member of Jefferson Starship, transitioning from Jefferson Airplane as they rebranded and evolved their sound. He played on Jefferson Airplane’s final album, Long John Silver in 1972, and toured with them before they transformed into Jefferson Starship.

Jefferson Airplane also paid tribute on their social media, stating, “Rest in Peace, John Barbata, a legendary drummer for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.” They highlighted his significant contributions, noting, “Known for his exceptional talent, John left his mark on the music world by playing with bands such as the Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane, and Jefferson Starship.”

Key Tracks Featuring Drummer John Barbata

Barbata’s illustrious career began with the Turtles in 1966, where his drumming became integral to hits like “She’d Rather Be With Me,” “You Showed Me,” and “Elenore.” His talent caught the attention of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with whom he played in 1970. He contributed to their live album 4 Way Street and the iconic single “Ohio.”

In 1972, Barbata joined Jefferson Airplane as they prepared their final album and tour. When the band morphed into Jefferson Starship, he became an original member and played on all their albums through 1978’s Earth. His work on the 1975 album Red Octopus, which included the hit single “Miracles,” helped propel the band to commercial success.

Barbata’s career with Jefferson Starship was abruptly halted in 1978 when a severe car accident left him with multiple injuries, including a broken neck, arm, and jaw. This accident led to his retirement from the band and large-scale touring. However, Barbata’s passion for music never waned. He built a recording studio in Comptche, California, where he continued to make music locally. In the 1980s, he and his wife, Angela Evans, recorded two albums together. After Evans’ passing in 2016, Barbata remained active in music, performing with his daughter and friends.

John Barbata’s legacy is marked by his remarkable contributions to some of rock music’s most influential bands. His exceptional drumming and enduring spirit have left an indelible mark on the music world.

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