Jorma Kaukonen is an American guitarist, best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.
Jorma Kaukonen was born in 1940 in Washington, D.C. He learnt fingerstyle guitar as a teenager, being a blues fan, most notably inspired by Reverend Gary Davis. In 1962 he moved to San Francisco, where he played solo in the coffee houses and taught guitar. In the mid 60s he joined Marty Balin's band Jefferson Airplane, making the transition from acoustic to electric guitar in the process, and invited Jack Casady, a friend from D.C., to join as the group's bassist. Jefferson Airplane went on to be the most successful of the San Francisco psychedelic rock bands, and Kaukonen's distinctive lead guitar was a vital part of their sound. He also got to showcase his acoustic fingerstyle virtuosity on the solo composition "Embyronic Journey", featured on their breakthrough album Surrealistic Pillow in 1967. From their third album onwards he also began to sing his own songs with the band, though his vocals were always overshadowed by those of Marty Balin and Grace Slick.
In 1969 Kaukonen and Casady began performing blues music together, calling the side project Hot Tuna. They began as an acoustic duo, with Kaukonen singing, and soon evolved into a full electric band, releasing two live albums. As Jefferson Airplane started to disintegrate in the early 70s, Hot Tuna began to take up more of their time, and they released their first studio album in 1972 on the Airplane's own Grunt record label. That was the year that the Airplane officially broke up, and Kaukonen was now devoting all his time to Hot Tuna.
In 1974 he released a solo album on Grunt records. It was originally conceived as a shared album with fellow guitarist Tom Hobson, but in the end turned out to be a mostly Kaukonen solo affair, featuring just two duets and one solo Dobson track. Whilst Hot Tuna were then leaning more towards an electric hard rock sound, Quah saw him showcasing the acoustic folk-blues side of his playing, with all the songs bar the duets being solo performances, though also with some surprising yet effective string arrangements in places. It was mostly made up of original songs, plus a few covers of Gary Davis and Blind Blake.
|> Jorma (1979)