After 50+ Years, Electric Hot Tuna Calling It Quits; Will Continue to Perform Acoustically

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Electric Hot Tuna today (l. to r.: Justin Guip, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen. Photo ©Jay Blakesberg; used with permission)

More than a half century after Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady began performing side gigs under the name Hot Tuna, the two musicians have decided to hang up their electric instruments. Their final electric show will take place in Denver on Dec. 7, with other concerts scheduled on the East Coast beginning in October, as well as San Francisco (Dec. 1-2), at the ranch (which has its own performance space) itself and elsewhere.

In an announcement issued by the Fur Peace Ranch, the Ohio-based music instruction camp founded by Kaukonen and his wife Vanessa, the group wrote, “Hot Tuna Electric is coming to an end, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on this electrifying event. We’re hosting a live stream of the last Hot Tuna Electric show on October 14th at 4 p.m. at the Fur Peace Ranch that will blow your mind!” Proceeds from that show will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. (Tickets for the live stream are available here.)

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The two San Francisco shows, to be held at the Fillmore (the second a benefit for the Rex Foundation), where Kaukonen and Casady first performed in 1965, promise special guests, as yet unannounced. Tickets are available here.

Hot Tuna in 1972

Jorma Kaukonen, 82, and Casady, 79, began playing together in their teens when both lived in Washington, D.C. They became immensely popular and influential with the Airplane from 1965-72, but by the time that group played its final gig the pair had already launched Hot Tuna. Their first public gigs took place during intermissions at Airplane gigs but they later spun off the blues-oriented group as a stand-alone unit.

Their self-titled debut album was recorded live at a Berkeley club in 1969 and released in May 1970. For that album (which also featured harmonica player Will Scarlett), Kaukonen played only acoustic guitar. For the 1971 follow, titled First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, they introduced Hot Tuna as an electric blues-rock unit, with the Kaukonen-Casady core augmented by violinist Papa John Creach and drummer Sammy Piazza.|

Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 5, 2019. (Photo: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch; used with permission)

Alternating between electric and acoustic music, Hot Tuna underwent numerous personnel changes through the years—with Kaukonen and Casady always involved—and took a hiatus from 1978-85 to pursue other directions. The guitarist and bassist then reunited and have remained active since then, while Kaukonen also performed live and recorded solo. With the establishment of Fur Peace Ranch in 1989, both musicians added teaching to their résumés, while continuing to tour prolifically. Drummer Justin Guip has rounded out the electric lineup since 2014.

Kaukonen already has teaching and performance gigs scheduled for 2024.

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3 Comments so far

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  1. Colorado Slim
    #1 Colorado Slim 5 September, 2023, 23:32

    All things must pass. But to not hear Jack live anymore on that epic signature Epi will be a real loss. The boys certainly deserve to dial things down. Very grateful for all of the shows and recorded output of the past and thinking Denver will need to be on the itinerary in early December.

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    • jeff
      jeff 7 September, 2023, 11:25

      Colorado Slim- i`m pretty sure Jack will still play that lovely Epi with acoustic Tuna. but dialed down a bit, like you said

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    • mrpinhead
      mrpinhead 15 February, 2024, 23:31

      I hadn’t realized it was their last electric show until reading this , but it was a fantastic, memorable show. Such a treat to hear Jack and Jourma again. Been a fan since the 60’s, so this show was the highlight of my musical year. Thanks for all the great music J&J!

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