In 1969, after Volunteers, Jefferson Airplane began to fragment. Kaukonen and Casady began to spend more time with their own 'spin-off' group Hot Tuna, which had first taken shape in December '68 as an outlet for 'Airplane members to gig more frequently. Marty Balin sang at early Hot Tuna gigs, and future 'Airplane drummer, Joey Covington was also involved with the outfit from the beginning. The story goes that the group was to be called Hot Shit but RCA wouldn't hear of it.
Their first album was recorded live and is a fine example of acoustic country blues based on Reverend Gary Davis songs. Their second, a live one too, used amplified instruments (electric violin, guitar, bass, drums and harmonica) and is notable for his strange sleeve and the long jams of John's Other and Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning. Their third album, Burgers, is generally thought to be their best album and offers several exceptional tracks. David Crosby sings on Highway Song, Richmond Talbott plays on 99 Year Blues and Nikki Buck adds keyboards to True Religion and Truckin'.
Phosphorescent Rat saw the first attempt at turning Hot Tuna into a power trio, a formula which would be used for their four following albums.
In the '70s, Hot Tuna kept on recording their mix of country blues and electric boogie, often playing live and developing a strong following . They disbanded after a compilation, Final Vinyl in 1979, but reformed in 1990 for a studio album and several live recordings. The Relix label has issued several live albums from radio tapes from their various periods.
Jorma Kaukonen is still recording, teaching and touring.
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