A to Z Anthology Fun Facts & Music Video- Jefferson Airplane- White Rabbit
- This was written by Grace Slick, who based the lyrics on Lewis Carroll’s book Alice In Wonderland. Like many young musicians in San Francisco, Slick did a lot of drugs. She saw lots of drug references in Carroll’s book, including the pills, the smoking caterpillar, the mushroom, and lots of other images that are generally trippy. She noticed that lots of children’s’ stories involve a substance of some kind that alters reality, and felt it was time to write a song about it.
- Slick got the idea for this after taking LSD and spending hours listening to the Miles Davis album Sketches Of Spain. The Spanish beat she came up with was also influenced by Ravel’s “Bolero.”
- Slick wrote and performed this when she was in a band called The Great Society. She brought it with her, along with “Somebody To Love,” when she joined Jefferson Airplane in 1966.
- On an original recording by The Great Society, the song is barely recognizable due to Grace’s higher voice before several throat operations to remove nodes that lowered her vocal range.
- This was used as the theme song for a 1973 movie called Go Ask Alice.
- The UK version of the album didn’t have this on it.
- This was one of the defining songs of the 1967 “Summer Of Love.” As young Americans protested the Vietnam war and took a lot of drugs, this played in the background.
- The Airplane was often found giving free concerts around the Haight-Asbury area of San Francisco. They shared a large house with several musicians during the psychedelic ’60s, often applying for and receiving parade permits to walk the streets. Grace was always a radical thinker, rejecting “Daddy’s money.” She once appeared on The Merv Griffin talk show made up in black face, causing a big controversy.
- “Go Ask Alice” which is a lyric from this song, inspired an anonymous author to put out a book with that same title. The book was a “diary” of a young girl in the 1960s who had a drug addiction and died. The diary owner’s name is never given, and the diary is suspected to be fictional even after it was promoted as true, and the anonymous author is suspected to be Beatrice Sparks, the book’s editor.
- This capped off Jefferson Airplane’s set at Woodstock in 1969. They took the stage at 8am on the third day, following a performance by The Who that started at 3am.
- In the film Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas, there is a scene where Dr. Gonzo is in a bathtub and this song is playing on a tape player. In an effort to end his life, Gonzo implores Raoul Duke to put the tape player in the tub “When White Rabbit peaks.” Instead of doing as instructed, Duke throws a grapefruit at Gonzo and unplugs the tape player.
Jefferson Airplane- White Rabbit