John Barbata dead: Tributes paid to Jefferson Starship & The Turtles drummer who died aged 79

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Jefferson Starship’s drummer John Barbata has died aged 79

John Barbata, the drummer who played on classic recordings by The Turtles, Jefferson Starship, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died aged 79. His cause of death was not immediately available.

Paying tribute to Barbata on X (formerly Twitter), Jefferson Starship said: “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!”

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Jefferson Airplane also paid tribute to the iconic drummer on Facebook. The band said: “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.

“Back in ’72, during a hiatus for CSN&Y, David Crosby introduced John to the Airplane, who hired him instantly. You can hear John’s drumming skills on the band’s final studio album, Long Live John Silver, as well as the live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.”

John Barbata, the drummer who played on classic recordings by The Turtles, Jefferson Starship, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died aged 79.John Barbata, the drummer who played on classic recordings by The Turtles, Jefferson Starship, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died aged 79.
John Barbata, the drummer who played on classic recordings by The Turtles, Jefferson Starship, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died aged 79.

Barbata stayed involved with CSN&Y members even after 4 Way Street ended, taking part in a number of projects such as Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners and Neil Young's Time Fades Away. Barbata contributed to the final version of Jefferson Airplane's legendary line-up in 1972, as suggested by Crosby, and his signature can be heard on their studio record Long John Silver. As the decade of the 1970s wore on, Barbata settled into the Jefferson Starship style, contributing his rhythmic prowess to albums like Dragon Fly and Red Octopus, which featured the hit song Miracles. But he left the group after a vehicle accident and had to recuperate for a year.

After leaving Jefferson Starship, Barbata progressively faded from the music landscape and settled in Ada, Oklahoma. In 2005, looking back on his remarkable career, he wrote his biography, The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer, in which he shared fascinating stories of his encounters with icons such as Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles.

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