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Joey Covington, drummer for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, dead at 67

Joey Covington, drummer for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, dead at 67

The iconic rock drummer, who stayed with band through the Jefferson Starship era, died in car crash in Palm Springs on Tuesday.

Drummer Joey Covington of the rock 'n' roll band Jefferson Airplane poses for a portrait in 1971

Drummer Joey Covington of the rock 'n' roll band Jefferson Airplane poses for a portrait in 1971

Joey Covington, a seminal beat-keeper in the key San Francisco bands Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, died in a car crash in Palm Springs Tuesday.

He was 67 years old.

According to the local paper, The Desert Sun, Covington crashed his Honda Civic into a retaining wall near Belardo Road and South Palm Canyon Drive. The Palm Springs resident had not been wearing a seat belt.

The Desert Sun reported that local police do not suspect the involvement of drugs or alcohol. A friend of Covington’s, Keith McCormick, told the paper that the drummer’s common law wife believes a stroke or heart attack led to the accident.

A self-taught drummer, Covington grew up in Pennsylvania, but like many young people of the ‘60s, he left for San Francisco to take part in what became the summer of love. He played in several early Bay Area bands, including Pacific Gas and Electric, which had a huge rock-soul hit in 1970 with “Are You Ready?” He also helped form Hot Tuna with Airplane members, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Cassidy. While his early work with Tuna in 1969 never found release, he went on to join Airplane that same year. He first appeared on their classic “Volunteers” album, replacing earlier drummer Spencer Dryden half way through recording

Covington also wrote the sexy Airplane song “Pretty As You Feel,” which appeared on 1971’s “Bark.” After their “Long John Silver” album in 1972, he left for a solo career, starting with the album “Fat Fandango.”

Covington also worked in Airplane’s later incarnation, Jefferson Starship, appearing on 1976’s hit album “Spitfire,” which featured a hit he co-wrote, “With Your Love.”

In addition, Covington drummed on Paul Kantner’s solo album “Blows Against the Empire” and on Grace Slick’s “Sunfighter.”

Covington’s death was confirmed by a post on Jefferson Starship’s Facebook page Wednesday. It simply read, “Rest in peace, Joey.”

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