Backstage with Mickey Thomas: On Starship

Matt Dolloff, CBS Radio Boston

Mickey Thomas and Starship may seem like a match made in heaven nowadays, but when he was first asked to join the band Thomas wasn’t sure his vocal style would work with the band’s music. He touched on that and Grace Slick’s return to Starship in a pre-Summer Concert Series interview with the Breakfast Club’s John Laurenti.

Thomas admitted that the first call from the band (then known as Jefferson Starship) came “out of left field,” because he was living in San Francisco preparing to work on a new solo album at the time and didn’t believe his R&B-slanted vocals would mesh with the band’s rock & roll sound.

“At first I thought, ‘How is this going to work? I’m coming from the Elvin Bishop band and R&B and soul roots…How is that going to work in Jefferson Starship?'” he said.

PHOTOS: Starship feat. Mickey Thomas at the WODS Summer Concert Series

Thomas had already decided that a solo album was the “logical” next step in his career, but ended up giving Starship a try anyway because of the thrill of trying something new, plus potentially creating something wholly unique out of it.

“This is just crazy enough that maybe somehow stylistically we might hit on something that sounds different or original,” he said of his joining the band in April 1979.

The group hung out and jammed together and bonded with each other over a 2-3 month period. Thomas said he remembers the band’s first hit single “Jane” as the first song he ever rehearsed with Starship.

Thomas also touched upon former singer Grace Slick, who resigned from the band amid alcohol problems in the late-1970s and returned in 1981. The band’s producer suggested she join Thomas on vocals for the track “Stranger,” which ended up on the album Modern Times.

VIDEO: Starship Kick Off WODS Summer Concert Series

Thomas said Slick upon her return “really liked the feeling and the vibe of the band,” which strayed considerably from the “not fun at all” vibe of Jefferson Airplane.

Watch the full interview with Mickey Thomas of Starship in the video below. We apologize for some hard-to-hear audio in the first half.

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