August 24, 1938 (age 82), Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (
Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Guitar, Violin
Quicksilver Messenger ServiceJefferson AirplaneJefferson Starship
Jefferson Starship: The Definitive Concert
Linda Imperial (m. 1990), Julia Dreyer (m. 1966–1979)
Paul Kantner, Pete Sears, Donny Baldwin
David Freiberg's Quicksilver Messenger Service - FRESH AIR
Paul Kantner's Final Rehearsal
David Freiberg (born August 24, 1938) is an American musician best known for contributing vocals, keyboards, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, viola and percussion as a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
- David Freibergs Quicksilver Messenger Service FRESH AIR
- Paul Kantners Final Rehearsal
- Personal life
- Band name lawsuit
- Quicksilver Messenger Service
- Jefferson AirplaneJefferson StarshipPaul KantnerGrace Slick
Classically trained in violin and viola, Freiberg began his career moonlighting as a coffeehouse singer-songwriter (playing acoustic guitar) during the American folk music revival while working for a railroad. For a while, he shared a house in Venice, California with David Crosby and Paul Kantner before being briefly jailed for marijuana possession. Prior to being incarcerated, he also became acquainted with Dino Valenti, then Crosby's nominal roommate on a houseboat in Sausalito, California.
Following his release, Freiberg co-founded Quicksilver Messenger Service with guitarists John Cipollina, Jim Murray and Gary Duncan and drummer Greg Elmore shortly after Valenti (who had recently hired the musicians for his backing band following the folk rock explosion) was imprisoned for possessing marijuana and methamphetamine in 1965. Due to the surfeit of guitarists in the group, Freiberg (who was only tangentially acquainted with his bandmates through their mutual friendship with Valenti, with Cippolina remarking that they had been instructed to "take care" of him) was assigned the bass.
Though not as commercially successful as contemporaries like Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver was integral to the beginnings of the San Francisco sound. In addition to earning three Billboard Top 100 hits, several of their albums ranked in the Top 30 of the magazine's album chart. He continued to serve as the group's bassist and contributed to the band's songwriting until September 1971, when he left the group to begin another prison sentence for marijuana possession.
Shortly after being released in 1972, Freiberg joined Jefferson Airplane at the behest of Kantner, belatedly replacing Marty Balin for the tour that promoted their final studio album (Long John Silver). He subsequently appeared on Thirty Seconds Over Winterland (1973), a live album culled from the tour.
After a long interregnum in which the fate of the band was in question (forcing Freiberg to briefly draw unemployment after RCA Records rescinded Jefferson Airplane's salaries), the final Jefferson Airplane lineup reformed as Jefferson Starship in early 1974 following the departure of lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady. He remained with this group for nearly eleven years, departing shortly after the formation of Starship in late 1984 due to creative differences over the selection and recording of "We Built This City" with Grace Slick (who, according to longtime manager Bill Thompson, considered Freiberg to be "dead weight") and the atypically outsized role of producer Peter Wolf; during this period, Wolf had effectively superseded Freiberg as the band's principal keyboardist in the studio and select live performances.
Although Freiberg (who generally played keyboards) and fellow multi-instrumentalist Pete Sears (who generally played bass) frequently alternated on both instruments throughout their respective tenures in the group, Ben Fong-Torres noted in a 1978 profile of the group that "Freiberg considers himself primarily a bass player." He elaborated upon this distinction in a 1997 interview with John Barthel: "I am not really a keyboard player. I use it for input to a computer now, and stuff like that, but it never was my instrument. I just did it for writing songs because it is a musical typewriter, basically, that is what it is."
Never a prolific songwriter and characterized by Fong-Torres as "essentially a back-up musician" in Jefferson Starship, Freiberg notably served as the primary composer of "Jane," a #14 hit for the group in 1979 at a crucial juncture immediately following the departures of Slick and Balin and the integration of Mickey Thomas. It has since been prominently showcased in the 2009 video game Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and as the opening theme of the Wet Hot American Summer franchise. He also developed the "distinctive" organ riff of Balin's "Miracles," the group's most successful single.
After a two-decade hiatus, Freiberg rejoined Kantner (mending a rift stemming from Freiberg's initial refusal to leave Jefferson Starship with him in 1984) in Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation for their 2005 tour, which was billed as "The Jefferson Family Galactic Reunion". As of 2010, he had officially rejoined the group, having appeared on the 2008 album Jefferson's Tree of Liberty, the first Jefferson Starship release to feature Freiberg since 1984's Nuclear Furniture. Following Kantner's death in January 2016, Freiberg is the only original member of Jefferson Starship in the current iteration of the group.
In 1966, Freiberg married Julia "Girl Freiberg" Brigden; they had a daughter, Jessica. Following their divorce in 1979, Freiberg was remarried to singer Linda Imperial in 1990. They reside in Marin County, California, where he has built a recording studio and practices Soka Gakkai Buddhism. According to Bruce Arnold of Orpheus, "He has developed a wonderful way of recording my acoustic guitar and has a $100,000 voice mike that will make anyone sound good."
Once described as "the nicest guy in the San Francisco music scene," Freiberg holds the singular distinction of having been associated with more of the original San Francisco bands than any other individual. He also maintained equally strong connections to the Grateful Dead; in addition to playing on their intramural baseball team, Freiberg has frequently collaborated and performed with Robert Hunter and Mickey Hart. He was the only member of Quicksilver Messenger Service to participate in the majority of the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra records (a series of solo albums and unreleased recordings by Crosby, Kantner and others that drew upon much of the era's Bay Area-based talent) and briefly provided uncredited accompaniment for Ace of Cups, a groundbreaking all-female San Francisco band.
Band name lawsuit
In April 2017, Freiberg and Jefferson Starship/Starship drummer Donny Baldwin were sued by original Jefferson Starship/Starship lead guitarist Craig Chaquico for their ongoing use of the band's name in the aftermath of Kantner's death. In his complaint, Chaquico alleges that he granted an exclusive lifetime license to Kantner (who originated the name as an alternate sobriquet for the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra on Blows Against the Empire, a 1970 solo album) following a 1993 lawsuit. According to Chaquico, the band previously agreed to retire the moniker in a 1985 settlement agreement between the remaining members of Jefferson Starship (including Baldwin and Freiberg) and Kantner upon his departure from the group. Chaquico also alleges that the post-Kantner lineup has utilized his likeness without his consent on their website, Facebook page and in other promotional materials.