Grace Slick, born Grace Barnett Wing, was the lead singer and songwriter for the San Francisco bay area trailblazing psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane. That band would see a few name changes throughout it’s history. In 1974, following the departure of bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen they would reform as Jefferson Starship and subsequent lawsuits would lead to their name change in 1984 to just Starship.
But back in 1970, while at the height of their Jefferson Airplane era, Grace Slick concocted a plan that was certain to make history if she was successful. She went to the White House with the intent of dosing President Richard Nixon with LSD.
Slick was a highly influential woman in the whole San Francisco flower power music scene. She was a veteran of Woodstock and a hero to many young people that opposed the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s staunch anti-drug policies.
In a time of great societal change and cultural upheaval, Nixon, with all of his 1950s squareness and conservative leanings, was seen by the youth of the day as a relic of the past – and an obvious enemy of the Hippie movement.
When Slick was invited to visit the White House, she felt compelled to seize the opportunity to make a boisterous statement about the peace, love, and drugs generation through very radical means. Keep watching to find out if she was successful in her mischievous act of defiance or if her prank was foiled by the commander and chief himself.
Nixon Didn’t Invite Slick To The White House
It certainly wasn’t the President’s idea for Grace to come to the White House. It was Tricia Nixon, Richard’s daughter, that sent out the invitation. Tricia and Slick had both attended the same women’s university in New York City, albeit ten years apart.
Neither Grace nor Tricia actually graduated from Finch College. The liberal arts school would shut its doors for good in 1976.
But even though Ms. Nixon and Grace had both dropped out before obtaining their degrees, the president’s daughter still felt compelled to throw a gathering for alumnae of the school.
When Grace received the invitation in her mailbox, the first thing she thought was that ‘Tricky Dick needs a little acid”.
There Was No Hiding Who She Was
There’s no way to hide a hippie. You can scrub ’em up and get them all clean. You can throw them in a suit and tie and shine their shoes, and they still stick out like a sore thumb.
When Slick was devising her plan, she decided to bring fellow radical hippie leader Abbie Hoffman with her as her guest. Even after she threw him into a suit and slicked his hair back he still looked wildly out of place. In fact, she described him as looking like some kind of mobster or something.
Slick wore boots and a miniskirt with a camel hair coat and sported a pageboy haircut and oval sunglasses. All the other women at the event were wearing their finest dresses and presented themselves as you’d expect for respectable guests of a White House function.
Security honed in on Hoffman and Slick as soon as they showed up. They informed the two that the event was invitation-only but to their dismay, Slick presented her invitation. It was made out to Grace Wing – if it had listed her stage name, she probably would have never been approved by the secret service in the first place.
Grace Slick and Abbie Hoffman Didn’t Even Get Close To Nixon
It was a bad move to bring Abbie along for the ride.
Slick actually had a pretty feasible plan. She was going to chat with Nixon with the acid tucked under one of her fingernails. In the midst of her conversation, she planned on gesturing over his teacup and that’s when she’d make the drop.
Unfortunately, because Abbie was with her, security immediately paid closer attention to the two.
Even though he was dressed up relatively conservatively and was clean-shaven, he still didn’t look like he belonged at the event. The White House Police informed Slick that it was a women’s only event and she tried to say that Hoffman was her bodyguard, but they still wouldn’t let him in.
Since it was obvious Hoffman wasn’t going to be able to get through the checkpoint, he took out a black flag featuring a marijuana leaf and Red Star and quickly hung it on the gate. White House Police quickly removed it while Slick and Hoffman ran across the street and hopped in a vehicle driven by another Jefferson Airplane band member and made their getaway. Their plan had been foiled.
Abbie Hoffman’s Yippie Movement
The tlag that Hoffman left at the White House was a symbol of the Youth Internal Party, an informal, theatrical, leftists, anarchist political party that came out of the 1960s counterculture movement. Adherents to the group were known as Yippies.
The group embraced freedom of speech, recreational drug use, and Marxist ideologies. They were rarely taken seriously in political discourses and that was perfectly alright with them. The Yippies were content with making a mockery of the status quo and questioning established societal figures through outrageous means.
For example, they once endorsed a pig named Pigasus for president of the united states and they also threatened to dose all the drinking water at the DNC in Chicago with LSD.
Abbie Hoffman was one of the Chicago 7 – a group that was charged by the federal government with conspiracy and inciting a riot for their protests of that same 1968 Democratic convention. He and his cohorts were found guilty and were given lengthy prison sentences. The charges would later be repealed and the convictions would be overturned.
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And make sure you keep watching – in a minute we’ll show you what Slick is up to these days.
Grace Slick Was A Firecracker
Even if Slick and Hoffman had actually gotten the opportunity to dose Nixon, it certainly wouldn’t have been that shocking of a news story. Hoffman was a well-seasoned troublemaker. She was the kind of hardcore hippie that parents warned their children about and feared they would become if they listened to the countercultures call to ‘Tune in, Turn on, and Drop out’.
She was tall and lanky, strikingly beautiful and fearless. She would speak her mind with no regrets and would do as she pleased without fear of repercussions. She grew up in exactly the right time period to be the woman that she was destined to be and the public figure that her young fans couldn’t get enough of.
Grace Slick was raised just a short distance from Haight-Ashbury, the hippie mecca which served as the epicenter of the Summer of love in 1967. She was friends with members of influential bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger, and The Grateful Dead. In many ways, the counterculture movement wouldn’t have been the same without her. Slick reports that she has only two regrets about that era of her life.
- That she never slept with Jimi Hendrix
- That she never rode a horse
She Was Drop Dead Gorgeous
Slicks looks drew the attention of modeling agencies as her lissome figure showed off the popular attire that the hippies were rocking back in those days. Most of what she wore came from vintage shops and thrifts stores around the Height.
She was always seen in boots and she loved items like bohemian silk vests and hip-hugging mini-skirts. With her piercing blue eyes, edgy attitude, and beautiful singing voice, she gracefully transitioned from model to rock star. It’s really no surprise that Slick was a hot item. Everyone couldn’t help but be enamored by her looks, music, and fashion sense.
Grace even scored a night with Jim Morrison once. After the two finished up their little roll in the hay, she gave him her number and told him he could call her if he wanted, but of course, in true rock star form, he never did. She recalls that he was quite the attractive man but he had a bit of screw loose. He routinely pushed the limits of how many psychedelics he could take at a time and his mental state suffered because of it.
The Jefferson Airplane
Slick and Jefferson Airplane rose to fame by penning classic tracks like ‘White Rabbit’ – the perennial psychedelic anthem, and ‘Somebody To Love’. Rolling Stone has included both songs on their list of ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
There really is no denying that they made a major impact on the music industry and society at the time. Surrealistic Pillow is without a doubt one of the most significant recordings of the Summer of Love.
The band headlined Woodstock which proved to be one of the most influential music festivals of all time. They loved LSD, Quaaludes, and marijuana. Slick’s biggest vice however was alcohol. For years, she battled with her alcoholism which went from bad to worse.
In 1978, during a European tour, Slick was so intoxicated that they had to cancel the first night of shows in Germany. The audience was furious and began to riot. The next night of the tour wasn’t much better. She was so intoxicated that she could barely sing. She also mocked Germany for losing World War II and groped two female audience members. After that performance, she left the band for good.
Several weeks later she was dragged off of a San Francisco game show for being heavily intoxicated and abusing the contestants.
She has received professional treatment twice for her alcoholism and fortunately seems to have it under control these days.
She retired from the music industry in 1989. Since then she has spent a lot of her time painting and drawing some of her fellow 1960s musicians like Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin and displaying her work at art shows across the country. In general, she has tried to stay out of the music business as much as possible although she has appeared on a couple of tracks on some of her friend’s albums over the years.
In recent years she has made rare appearances in the public forum and infrequently gives radio interviews. In 2016, she attended the Grammy Lifetime Achievement awards.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Grace Slick’s 1970 plot to drug the president was successful? The president never actually attended his daughter’s gathering but Slick still managed to stir up some trouble. You would think that she would have been charged with some kind of crime for her plot – especially since she was so vocal about her intentions.
Anyway, we’d love to hear from you. Are you a fan of Jefferson Airplane or are you not really into the whole psychedelic rock genre? Let us know what you think down below in the comments section.
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