Hot Tuna is an American blues band formed in 1969 by guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady. Although it has always been a fluid aggregation, with musicians coming and going over the years, the band's name has essentially become a metonym for Kaukonen and Casady's ongoing collaboration.
Casady, Kaukonen, and Mitterhoff, performing at The Somerville Theater near Boston, Mass. on June 18, 2013
|Origin||San Francisco, USA|
|Genres||Blues, blues rock, Americana|
|Years active||1969–1977, 1983, 1986–present|
|Labels||RCA/Grunt, Relix, Eagle, Red House|
|Associated acts||Jefferson Airplane|
|Past members||Will Scarlett|
Papa John Creach
Hot Tuna began as a side project to Jefferson Airplane, intended to mark time while Grace Slick recovered from throat node surgery that had left her unable to perform. The band's name came from someone Jorma Kaukonen referred to as a "witty wag" who called out, "hot tuna" after hearing the line 'What's that smell like fish, oh baby,' from the song "Keep On Truckin'." Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Paul Kantner and new drummer Joey Covington played several shows around San Francisco, including the Airplane's original club, The Matrix, before Jefferson Airplane resumed performing to support Volunteers. (Although Covington had been hired by Jefferson Airplane, he only performed at select engagements, with Spencer Dryden continuing to perform as the band's principal drummer until his 1970 dismissal). Once the Airplane had resumed touring, Tuna found itself opening for the Airplane. Their early repertoire derived mainly from Kaukonen's Airplane material and covers of American country and blues artists such as Reverend Gary Davis, Jelly Roll Morton, Bo Carter and Blind Blake.
In September 1969, Kaukonen and Casady employed the moniker for a week of acoustic-based concerts at the New Orleans House in Berkeley, California; recordings culled from this engagement were released as the band's eponymous debut album in 1970. This album has become affectionately known by the group's fans as the "breaking glass album", because of the sound of breaking beer glasses during the recording of "Uncle Sam Blues." Some tracks included Will Scarlett on harmonica. After the album was recorded, Jorma's brother Peter Kaukonen soon replaced Kantner on rhythm guitar and Jefferson Airplane co-lead vocalist Marty Balin joined on vocals for the electric songs. In 1970, the younger Kaukonen was replaced by Paul Ziegler.
That summer, RCA paid for the band to go to Jamaica to record their next album, but the album was never finished, in part due to a financial dispute between Balin (who left both bands shortly thereafter) and Kaukonen and Casady. Violinist Papa John Creach joined Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane in October 1970, and both bands finished a joint tour in November 1970 with shows at the Fillmore East.
In September 1970, Kaukonen and Casady performed two acoustic-based shows as Hot Tuna without Jefferson Airplane at Pepperland (a capacious dance hall in San Rafael, California) and received good reviews, further signifying that Hot Tuna could survive without the other band to support it.
As Jefferson Airplane wound down and stopped regularly touring for over eighteen months (save for a handful of concerts in the summer of 1971 and winter of 1972) after the Fillmore East shows, Hot Tuna – for whom live performance was always of prime importance – became an independent group consisting of Kaukonen, Casady, drummer Sammy Piazza, and Creach, moving fully to the electric band format. This line-up was first documented on the album First Pull Up, Then Pull Down (1971), which was recorded live at the Chateau Liberte, an obscure club located near Los Gatos, California in the Santa Cruz Mountains that was favored by the band throughout the era. The group also appeared on three tracks from Papa John Creach's debut solo album, as well as "Walking the Tou Tou" from his second album Filthy!.
The studio albums Burgers (1972) and The Phosphorescent Rat (1974) followed, with Creach leaving before the latter was recorded. These two albums featured mostly Kaukonen compositions. On the former album, David Crosby sang supporting vocals on "Highway Song," while keyboardist Nick Buck (who frequently guested with the group in the studio for the next five years before serving as a touring member in 1977) contributed to two tracks.
As the band prepared for its 1974 tour in support of The Phosphorescent Rat, Kaukonen laid off Piazza after deciding to have the band return to its semi-acoustic repertoire. Kaukonen and Casady then proceeded to record Kaukonen's first solo album, Quah. However, July 1974 marked a departure from their primarily bluesy, acoustic style when Hot Tuna dropped their acoustic sets completely and morphed into a heavy rock band. In October 1974, the group performed on The Midnight Special.
The albums America's Choice (1975), Yellow Fever (1975), and Hoppkorv (1976) showcase a power trio with the addition of new drummer Bob Steeler. Jeff Tamarkin's liner notes on the RCA "Platinum Gold Hot Tuna Collection" characterize this trilogy as being emblematic of the band's "rampage years." Kaukonen is quoted as saying the change of focus was due to the fact that "it was just fun to be loud." During this period, Kaukonen's electric guitar playing was multi-layered, prominently showcasing such effects as the Roland Jet phaser. His "rampage" style is typified by the solos on "Funky #7" and "Serpent of Dreams" on America's Choice and "Song for the Fire Maiden," "Sunrise Dance with the Devil," and "Surphase Tension" on Yellow Fever. Live performances throughout the epoch were distinguished by free-flow improvisational jams and very long sets (up to six hours uninterrupted) with extended versions of their studio material; a November 1976 concert at the Palladium in New York City featured a 16-minute version of "Invitation." However, producer Harry Maslin did not appreciate the group's style and held them to a more traditional rock format (including several cover songs) for Hoppkorv. In 1977, Kaukonen began to perform solo sets before the band would perform. The trio stopped touring at the end of 1977 and performed its final concert (with keyboardist Nick Buck and saxophonist "Buffalo" Bob Roberts) at the Palladium on November 26.
Although live performances from all iterations of the group enjoyed a notable cult following for much of the 1970s, Hot Tuna failed to rival or eclipse Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship from a commercial standpoint; while all but two of their albums from the era reached the Billboard Top 100, America's Choice was their only post-1972 album to chart for more than ten weeks, peaking at #75.
Due to emergent tensions between Kaukonen and Casady, a planned 1978 tour was cancelled, with Kaukonen filling these dates by performing solo. A double live album, Double Dose, was released that year as a document of the previous year's tour. Casady and Kaukonen went their separate ways and pursued short-lived careers in the new wave bands SVT and Vital Parts, respectively. In 1979, Kaukonen released his second solo album and Grunt Records released the Hot Tuna compilation Final Vinyl.
Rhythm guitarist Michael Falzarano and drummer Shigemi Komiyama joined Kaukonen and Casady for a Hot Tuna reunion tour in 1983. The group played a mix of new material alongside the classic Hot Tuna songs. This, combined with the group's hard rock and heavy metal approach, were not well received, with reports of fans walking out of shows.
Hot Tuna again reformed in 1986, with producer Joey Balin joining on rhythm guitar until 1987. Kantner joined the band in 1987 and 1988, adding some old Jefferson Airplane songs to the setlist. Grace Slick showed up on stage as well for one show at The Fillmore in March 1988. The band continued into 1989 and Kaukonen and Casady joined the 1989 Jefferson Airplane reunion album and tour, performing acoustic Hot Tuna sets in the middle of each show. At the end of the Airplane tour, Hot Tuna resumed their electric performances, adding Falzarano and drummer Joey Stefko. Shortly thereafter, New Yorker Harvey Sorgen replaced Stefko on drums and Galen Underwood joined on keyboards for their first album of all new material in almost 14 years, 1990's Pair a Dice Found. Kaukonen and Falzarano both contributed original songs.
Throughout the 1990s, Hot Tuna again alternated between acoustic and electric styles. The two Sweetwater albums were predominantly acoustic sets with guests such as Bob Weir, Maria Muldaur and former Jefferson Starship bassist-keyboardist Pete Sears; the latter was to join the group on a permanent basis on the latter instrument during the decade. The 1997 release Live in Japan was in many ways reminiscent of the very first Hot Tuna album, having a minimalistic sound and being recorded live at a tiny venue (Stove's in Yokohama). Falzarano and Sears stayed with the band until the early 2000s.
In 2004, Casady and Kaukonen were joined by guitarist Barry Mitterhoff and drummer Erik Diaz. In August 2009, following the departure of Diaz, Skoota Warner officially joined the band as drummer. In November 2010, Hot Tuna performed as a semi-acoustic trio: Casady, Kaukonen and Mitterhoff at a Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm's Barn studio in Woodstock, New York. In the same month, Kaukonen announced on his blog that Hot Tuna had begun recording its first studio album in 20 years. The album, Steady as She Goes, was released by Red House Records on April 5, 2011. For the first half of 2011, guitarist Jim Lauderdale and harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite toured with them; later in the year they were joined by Musselwhite, guitarists David Bromberg, Larry Campbell, Steve Kimock, and G. E. Smith, and vocalist Teresa Williams. Both Campbell and Williams, who guested on the Steady as She Goes album, have remained with the band in a touring capacity. In 2014, Justin Guip, who had engineered the album in addition to Kaukonen's recent solo work, took over drumming duties from Warner.
Jorma Kaukonen has been quoted as saying that the name is an answer to a question posed in their song "Keep on Truckin'", as adapted from Blind Boy Fuller's 1938 song "What's That Smell Like Fish?"
Burgers is the third album by Hot Tuna, the folk rock offshoot of Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and Papa John Creach, released in 1972 as Grunt FTR-1004. It was the band's first studio album, the previous two being live recordings. "Water Song" and "Sunny Day Strut" are instrumentals composed for this album. Hot Tuna did not release the song as a single until June 1982. In 1996, RCA released the CD box set Hot Tuna in a Can which included a remastered version of this album, along with remasters of the albums Hot Tuna, First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, America's Choice and Hoppkorv.Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic
Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic is a Hot Tuna album released in 1996 and is an expansion of the A-side of the previous vinyl release Historic Live Tuna. The B-side of the previous release was expanded as Classic Hot Tuna Electric and released at the same time as this album. The tracks are taken from a live acoustic performance played on KSAN radio in 1971.Classic Hot Tuna Electric
Classic Hot Tuna Electric is a Hot Tuna album released in 1996 and is an expansion of the B-side of the 1985 vinyl release Historic Live Tuna. The tracks were recorded at a live electric performance on July 3, 1971 at the Fillmore West auditorium in San Francisco.The A-side of Historic Live Tuna was expanded as Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic and released at the same time as this album.
Another song from the Fillmore West concert, "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning", was included in the album Fillmore: The Last Days.Double Dose (Hot Tuna album)
Double Dose is the eighth album by the American blues rock band Hot Tuna, and their third live album. The album was originally released as a double-LP as Grunt CYL2-2545. After their 1977 tour, Jorma Kaukonen moved on to a solo career and Jack Casady joined the new wave band SVT. Hot Tuna would not perform together again until 1983. The album had its highest peak at #92 on the Billboard charts.
The group recorded the album as a cost-saving alternative to a studio album. However the mixing process considerably raised the album's expense. Producer Felix Pappalardi heavily edited the concert tapes and had Kaukonen re-record his vocals for sides 2 through 4 at Wally Heider Studios.First Pull Up, Then Pull Down
First Pull Up, Then Pull Down is the second album by Hot Tuna, released in 1971 as RCA Victor LSP-4550. The album was recorded live with electric instruments, instead of the acoustic instruments used on the previous album, Hot Tuna. The album rose to #43 on the Billboard charts. In 1996, RCA released the CD box set Hot Tuna in a Can, which included a remastered version of this album, along with remasters of the albums Hot Tuna, Burgers, America's Choice and Hoppkorv.
In Canada, the album reached #30 in the RPM Magazine charts where is was shown as Hot Tuna Electric Recorded Live.Flight Log
Flight Log (1966–1976), released in January 1977 as a double-LP as Grunt CYL2-1255). It is a compilation of Jefferson Airplane and Airplane-related tracks, including tracks by Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna, as well as solo tracks by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and Jorma Kaukonen. Although primarily a compilation album, the album includes one previously unreleased song: "Please Come Back" written by Ron Nagle and performed by Jefferson Starship. "Please Come Back" is not available on any other release.
Among the session musicians featured on the album are two members of the Grateful Dead and one member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. David Crosby appears on one track, and Jerry Garcia plays on three tracks, two of which also feature Mickey Hart.
The album included a lavish 12-page full-color, full-size (12 sq.in.) booklet, containing photographs of the band throughout the period covered by the compilation. It also contained a detailed history of the band, written by Patrick Snyder of Rolling Stone magazine.
Flight Log was first reissued on CD by BMG Japan on October 22, 2008 as a part of the "Paper Sleeve Collection" reissue series (BVCM-35468-9). The release features an exact reproduction of the Grunt 1977 edition of the LP packaging including a reduced scale reproduction of the original booklet and inner sleeve jackets for the CDs. Also included is a second booklet containing all the lyrics in both English and Japanese. The only omission by BMG Japan was not reproducing the original GRUNT label on the CDs. The audio quality is as good as the original master tapes available for the Japanese LP pressing and features JVC K2 24 Bit Remastering. However, it sounds as if the master tapes had been damaged on at least three songs, and significantly obvious on the introduction of "Silver Spoon". CD 1 contains Side A and B, and CD 2 contains Side C and D.
On April 5, 2011, BGO Records released a remastered edition of Flight Log in a standard jewel case with cardboard slip cover. The BGO version is said to be a sonic improvement on the BMG/Sony edition, nonetheless, certain tape defects such as on Silver Spoon still exist.Grunt Records
Grunt Records is a vanity label founded in 1971 by Jefferson Airplane and distributed by RCA Records. Initially created to sign local Bay Area acts, the label later was used only for Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna releases. The label ended use in 1987 after Grace Slick left Starship.Historic Live Tuna
Historic Live Tuna is an album by the band Hot Tuna. It was released in 1985. Side A contains previously unreleased tracks from a live acoustic performance played on KSAN radio in 1971. Side B contains previously unreleased material from a live electric performance in 1971 recorded at the Fillmore West auditorium in San Francisco. The album was Hot Tuna's second release on Relix Records, and would be their last release until after the 1989 Jefferson Airplane reunion tour and reunion album, when they were signed to Epic Records for a short time before returning to Relix.
In 1996 the A-side of Historic Live Tuna was expanded and released as the CD Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic, and the B-side was expanded and released as the CD Classic Hot Tuna Electric.
Another song from the Fillmore West concert, "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning", was included in the album Fillmore: The Last Days.Hoppkorv
Hoppkorv was the seventh album by the American blues rock band Hot Tuna, and their last studio album recorded for Grunt Records, as Grunt BFL1-1920. Unlike previous albums, Hot Tuna relied entirely on an outside producer for this effort, Harry Maslin. In addition to four new original songs by Jorma Kaukonen and one by Nick Buck, the album includes covers of Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy", Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied", and Chuck Berry's "Talkin' 'Bout You." The album had its highest peak at #116 on the Billboard charts. In 1996, RCA released the CD box set Hot Tuna in a Can which included a remastered version of this album, along with remasters of the albums Hot Tuna, First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, Burgers and America's Choice
Hoppkorv is Swedish for "Jumping Hot Dog".Hot Tuna (album)
Hot Tuna is the self-titled debut album by the American blues rock band Hot Tuna, released in 1970 as RCA Victor LSP-4353. It was recorded live at the New Orleans House in Berkeley, California in September 1969. It peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200 album chart.Jack Casady
John William Casady (born April 13, 1944) is an American bass guitarist, best known as a member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Jefferson Airplane became the first successful exponent of the San Francisco Sound. Their singles, including "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit", had a more polished style than their other material, and successfully charted in 1967 and 1968. Casady, along with the other members of Jefferson Airplane, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.Joey Covington
Joseph Edward Covington (born Joseph Edward Michno; June 27, 1945 – June 4, 2013) was an American drummer, best known for his involvements with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship.Jorma Kaukonen
Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen, Jr. (; YOR-mə KOW-kə-nen; born December 23, 1940) is an American blues, folk, and rock guitarist. Kaukonen performed with Jefferson Airplane and still performs regularly on tour with Hot Tuna, which started as a side project with bassist Jack Casady, and as of early 2019 has continued for 50 years. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #54 on its list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.Michael Falzarano
Michael Falzarano is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He has been a professional musician since the 1970s, most notably in Hot Tuna, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and the Memphis Pilgrims, a Memphis-style rock and roll/blues band that he founded in 1986.Falzarano released an album entitled We Are All One in 2008 on Woodstock Records and The King James Sessions in 2005 on Blues Planet Records. A re-released version of the song "Last Train Out," which he wrote in memory of the Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule bass player Allen Woody, appears on the record. Blues Planet re-released Mecca, an album that Falzarano and the Memphis Pilgrims originally released in 1996 on Relix Records with guests Jorma Kaukonen, Pete Sears, and Harvey Sorgen of Hot Tuna and Danny Louis of Gov't Mule.
When not performing with his own band, Falzarano can be seen with Hot Tuna, the Jorma Kaukonen Trio, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Falzarano also produces other artists, and teaches guitar workshops at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch.
In 2013, Falzarano's original composition "When There's Two There's Trouble" was featured in Alexandre Moors' critically acclaimed film Blue Caprice with Isaiah Washington, Tim Blake Nelson, and Joey Lauren Adams. Falzarano also appears in the movie.
Michael is currently touring with his band, The Englishtown Project, covering Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Marshall Tucker Band songs.Papa John Creach
John Henry Creach (May 28, 1917 – February 22, 1994), better known as Papa John Creach, was an American blues violinist, who has also played "classical, jazz, be-bop, R&B, pop and acid rock" music. Early in his career, he performed as a journeyman musician with such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Stuff Smith, Charlie Christian, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole and Roy Milton.Following his rediscovery by drummer Joey Covington in 1967, he fronted a variety of bands (including Zulu and Midnight Sun) in addition to playing with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation, the San Francisco All-Stars (1979–1984), The Dinosaurs (1982–1989) and Steve Taylor.
Creach recorded a number of solo albums and guested at several Grateful Dead and Charlie Daniels Band concerts. He was a regular guest at the early annual Volunteer Jams, hosted by Charlie Daniels, which exposed him to a new audience that was receptive to fiddle players.Steady as She Goes (Hot Tuna album)
Steady as She Goes is a 2011 album by Hot Tuna, the band's first studio album since 1990. After Jorma Kaukonen recorded his solo album in 2009 at Levon Helm's studio in NY, he asked his new record company Red House if they would be interested in a Tuna album. The band started recording new tracks in November 2010 with the same producer and studio that Kaukonen used for River of Time and features the latest lineup of the band that formed in 2009 when Skoota Warner joined on drums. On March 11, 2011 Red House released Angel of Darkness as a free single. The album was released on CD and on iTunes April 5, 2011 and was released on vinyl in May. The album first charted on the Tastemaker and Independent album lists compiled by Billboard for the week of April 23.Released as "Collector's Edition: Half-speed Mastered 180 Gram HQ Vinyl" with only a few hundred made, in gatefold form and including a Hot Tuna tattoo, as well as the CD version, it includes two LPs, with an etched portrait on side four. Each side without the etching has four songs.The Best of Hot Tuna
The Best of Hot Tuna is a Hot Tuna compilation album released in 1998. It covers songs from all the Hot Tuna albums released on Grunt Records. Bill Thompson, former manager of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna helped select the songs for inclusion. The artwork on the cover is a painting of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady made by Grace Slick. The album was released as a double CD.The Phosphorescent Rat
The Phosphorescent Rat is the fourth album by the blues rock group Hot Tuna, released in early 1974 as Grunt FTR-1010. This was the first Hot Tuna album recorded after guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady had left Jefferson Airplane. They were joined as before by drummer Sammy Piazza, though Papa John Creach had left the band for Jefferson Starship. The band's playing was moving away from the softer, more acoustic sound of their first three albums, and towards a hard rock sound that would be explored on their next three albums.Yellow Fever (album)
Yellow Fever is the sixth album by the American blues rock band Hot Tuna, recorded and released in 1975 as Grunt BFL1-1238. The album was also released in Quadraphonic as Grunt BFD1-1238. The album rose to #97 on the Billboard charts.
|Studio and live albums|
|Archival live albums|