The first of the female rock icons, Slick presented a shocking persona relative to other popular female vocalists of her time.
Veteran San Francisco media personality Steve Wagner was co-host, writer, and executive producer of the Bay Area television programs Reel Life and Filmtrip.
Steve has ghostwritten several published books, contributed articles on music, film, and popular culture to numerous publications, and presented lectures and workshops on music, art, and mythology throughout the U.S.
His book All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and Gods of Rock (2019), a study of the classic rock era through the lens of classical mythology, is the product of ten years of research and composition.
Our twelve days of rock archetypes continue with Grace Slick, the witch of the rock mythology. The Oxford-English dictionary defines the word “Maleficium” as (1) “An act of witchcraft performed with the intention of causing damage or injury; the resultant harm;” and (2) “A potion or poison, used especially in witchcraft.” In a well-known anecdote, Grace once tried to dose President Richard Nixon’s drink with LSD. When asked why should do that by Marie Osmond on the Donnie and Marie Show in 1998, Grace replied, “To get him really different.” Below is an excerpt from All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and the Gods of Rock, that explores the witch archetype of the rock pantheon, Grace Slick:
Slick, lead singer (along with Marty Balin) of the psychedelic San Francisco sextet the Jefferson Airplane, was a striking beauty and former model who chose to downplay her natural allure in favor of cultural, not sexual, provocation. The first of the female rock icons, Slick presented a shocking persona relative to other popular female vocalists of her time, side-stepping the demure femininity typified by the “canaries” of the standards era, the reverence of the gospel-infused soul singers, the stylized choreography of the Motown chanteuses, and the boy-obsessed posturing of the girl-groups.
Slick exhibited many characteristics of the witch archetype, and (undoubtedly to the older generation in the ’60s) an apparently wicked one at that.
Creating an insubordinate role for women in popular music, Slick was a counter-culture rebel who mocked convention and challenged society to follow her example.
Most palpable in the daring content of her self-penned anthem “White Rabbit,” with its clear endorsement of hallucinogens as perception gateways (“Feed your head”), Slick exhibited many characteristics of the witch archetype, and (undoubtedly to the older generation in the ’60s) an apparently wicked one at that. In a spellbinding voice set over a haunting rock bolero, Slick sang “White Rabbit” not as popular entertainment, but as incantation; her 1966 performance of the song on the television program American Bandstand while wearing a nun’s habit and go-go boots punctuating the inciting nature of both the song and her archetypal character.
Transcending the sense of underlying energy and the point of direct experience that is beyond the physical world, the logic of the brain, and, most frustratingly, language.
Representing the deeper feminine qualities of inner wisdom and intuitive process, concerns of ecology and equality, possession of hidden knowledge, and emphasis on truth and integrity, attributes of countless mythic goddesses of the ancient world.
Everything we experience in our material world is realized and created through a dance with its opposite.