Photo: Leah Barbata

Legendary Drummer John Barbata: Dead At 79

Iconic drummer for Jefferson Starship/Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Turtles, and The Sentinels, John Barbata passed away at the age of 79.

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!” “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)'”

During his storied career, John had hit singles with The Turtles’ including ‘Happy Together’ (that spent three weeks at #1 in 1967,) ‘She’d Rather Be with Me’, ‘You Showed Me’, ‘She’s My Girl’, and ‘Elenore’.

After Neil Young fired their previous drummer, Dallas Taylor, in 1970, Barbata joined CSNY when their album ‘4 Way Street’, topped the Billboard 200 LP chart, featuring the protest song, ‘Ohio’, about the Kent State shootings.

In addition to several CSNY LPs, 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’.

Though he politely declined the offer, amid his success with CSNY, David Geffen invited Barbata to join The Eagles.

Following a serious 1978 car crash that took him more than a year to recover from, Barbata was forced to leave Starship, which he joined in 1974, and although he never returned to touring, he did make more records in the 1980s.

Though he’s said to have played on more than 60 full lengths un-credited, John also recorded with Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Rivers, Lee Michaels, Ry Cooder and The Everly Brothers.

Though his cause of death is unknown at this time, the musician is reported to have died on May 8.

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Author: Saul Goode

Photo: Leah Barbata