Keep your eyes on the sky, because the starship is coming.
Jefferson Starship will bring its decades-spanning catalog to the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center on Sunday, offering songs from every incarnation of the band.
In 1966, the burgeoning San Francisco psychedelic music scene gave birth to Jefferson Airplane, whose songs “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love” both charted in the top 10 and are among “Rolling Stone” magazine’s top 500 songs of all time.
In 1972, the group split up, and in 1974 guitarist Paul Kantner and singer Grace Slick formed Jefferson Starship, along with David Freiberg, who had previously founded Quicksilver Messenger Service.
They were eventually joined by Airplane singer and songwriter Marty Balin, and Jefferson Starship enjoyed even greater success; between 1974 and 1984, Jefferson Starship released eight gold and platinum albums and 20 hit singles.
In 1985, Grace Slick went on to form the third incarnation of the band, Starship, which released three Billboard chart-topping hits — “We Built This City,” “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”
In 1992, Kantner re-formed Jefferson Starship, and was once again joined by Balin and, later, Freiberg. In the intervening years, Slick retired from touring, but her replacement is more than capable of belting out all the hits.
“You have to be pretty good, or insane, and I think I’m a little bit of both,” said singer Cathy Richardson in a recent interview from her home in Illinois.
Richardson has some pretty big shoes to fill, but it’s not the first time she has taken the spot of a ’60s musical icon. Before joining Jefferson Starship, she handled lead vocals for a revival of Big Brother and the Holding Company, originally fronted by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Janis Joplin.
“I was singing with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and we were on tour for the 40th anniversary of the summer of love tour (in 2007), and I was singing the Janis stuff, and they watched me every night. At the end of that tour, their singer was leaving and they asked me to join,” Richardson said.
For more than a decade, Richardson has kept the spirit of the ’60s — and the ’70s and ’80s, for that matter — alive.
“We are on the never-ending tour. We’ve been on tour since I joined the band 11 years ago,” Richardson said. “Jefferson Starship is one of the most storied bands, and it’s an honor to keep this music going for people who were too young or hadn’t even been born yet. We are honored to be anointed to carry on that legacy.”
Lest one think the band is resting on its history, it’s planning to release a new album — “Mother of the Sun” — in September, its first in 11 years.
The album will include a song co-written with Slick, and another co-written by Balin, who died in 2018, and will be dedicated to Kantner, who died in 2016.
Tickets for Sunday’s show range from $49 to $69, and are available at sprucepeakarts.org.