On October 4th, 2014, Signe Toly Anderson was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame Class of 2014. On January 28th, 2016, Signe passed away after longtime health issues and a heart condition had plagued her. Here we give you a lovely video from our-then interview with Signe, and offer a few thoughts and images to reflect on the life and the times of the original female singer in Jefferson Airplane.
At the time of the OMHOF Induction in 2014, here’s how we wrote up her bio:
Vocalist Signe Anderson grew up in Portland where she sang both folk and jazz. After a trip to San Francisco, she joined the Jefferson Airplane. Their debut album “Takes Off” was both a critically acclaimed album with fans and critics. Shortly after she gave birth to her child, she returned to Portland. Signe sang with Carl Smith & the Natural Gas Company for 9 years. Over the years she has been invited to guest on numerous live performances by the KBC Band and the Jefferson Starship. —
Of course there’s so much more to Signe than that brief paragraph, but it certainly felt like a re-introduction to a woman who was seemingly quietly living her life, right here in Portland.
Terry Currier took out some time yesterday, to reminisce a little more in depth, on his friendship with Signe.
Signe Anderson, original lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane, passed away on the same day as her former band mate Paul Kantner did, January 28th. As I went to call her about Paul, I found out the news. The family did not want to not announce it that day as Signe’s grandson was in Europe getting ready to race for the US Ski Team.
Signe was originally from Oregon and moved to San Francisco. She became the singer for the Jefferson Airplane and was on their debut album “Takes Off”. She became pregnant and decided to leave the band and move back to Oregon with Grace Slick from the Great Society taking her place.
Over the years, Signe would guest with members of the Airplane when they would come through town. She also sang with Carl Smith and the Electric Company in Portland.
I’d talked to Signe a few times over the years and in 2010 I asked her if she would like to do a signing at the store around a live CD release of the Jefferson Airplane….her last live performance with them. She felt honored that I asked and the event had a great deal of people at it.
We became good friends from that point. She had the most amazing handwriting, which I was blown away from when she sent a thank you card for the event. I’ve kept every holiday card, just a hello card and any communication she sent by mail because the handwriting was exquisite.
In 2014, I called her to notify her she was getting inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. It caught her off guard but it became one of the highlights of her life. I asked her who she would like to induct her…..a former band mate, person close to you musically, a friend. She picked her daughter Ladybug. It was a beautiful induction speech, followed by a beautiful acceptance speech by Signe.
Signe was a special person. She will be remembered in rock history for her brief musical contribution but I will remember here for the sweet human being she was. See you on the other side…..Terry
The OMHOF Induction Interview
Signe said the band called their music “Fo-jazz-rock”. Marty Balin, she said, was absolutely the best lyricist and Paul Kantner has a great way of “filling the gaps”. Signe considered herself to be the “arranger”. Born in Seattle, and coming to Portland at the age of three, she then took off to “chase life” in San Francisco. She admitted to us in this interview, that she never was a hippy, and that she even shaved her legs! (Unfathomable for some women in the 60’s). As you can see from the below image, Signe was that “normal” girl, following normal kid-dreams.
Dave Scott and I had the honor of sitting down with Signe, pre-induction ceremony, and talk with her about an extraordinary, and in some ways, so very “ordinary” a life she lived in Portland.
Here’s a great overview from Rolling Stone.