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Alexander "Skip" Spence

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Windsor, Ontario, Canada (April 18, 1946 – April 16, 1999)

Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence (April 18, 1946 – April 16, 1999) was a musician and singer-songwriter best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and as a solo artist. He was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and his family relocated to San Jose, California in the late 1950s. His career was plagued by drug addictions coupled with mental health problems, and is described by a biographer as man who “neither died young nor had a chance to find his way out.” During his tenure in the public eye, he had a profound impact on the music and genres.

1966-1969: Moby Grape and Oar
Spence was a guitarist in an early line-up of Quicksilver Messenger Service before Marty Balin recruited him to be the drummer for Jefferson Airplane. After one album with Jefferson Airplane, their debut Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, he left to co-found Moby Grape, once again as a guitarist. It was with Moby Grape that Spence found his greatest musical fame, writing among other songs, “Omaha”, from Moby Grape’s first album (1967)—a song identified in 2008 by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 greatest guitar songs of all time.

Spence is acknowledged as having been instrumental in the formation of The Doobie Brothers, by way of introducing John Hartman to Tom Johnston, and encouraging their musical development.

During the recording session of Moby Grape’s second album, Wow, in 1968, Spence attempted to break down a bandmate’s hotel room door with a fire axe, while under the influence of LSD. Spence’s deterioration in New York and the “fire axe incident” are described by bandmate Jerry Miller as follows: “Skippy changed radically when we were in New York.

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