20 Years Ago: Grace Slick Arrested After Armed Confrontation with Police
For many, Grace Slick’s voice is synonymous with the Summer of Love — but in 1994, the former Jefferson Airplane singer had a Shotgun March.
On March 5, 1994, officers were called to Slick’s Marin County home after an “apparently intoxicated man” phoned police to complain that “a drunken woman was firing a shotgun in the house.” The caller, 58-year-old Ira Lee, greeted law enforcement by shouting “Kill me!,” at which point he was forcibly subdued.
Officers then had to contend with Slick, who was accused of pointing a shotgun at them and ordering them to leave her property. According to the police report, there was a brief standoff, after which “Officer Bob Rossi was able to wrestle the gun away from her when her attention was diverted.” Slick was then arrested and booked for felony assault and felony brandishing a weapon at a police officer.
Slick, who later laughed “Of course” when asked if she was drunk at the time of the incident, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “They said, ‘Put the shotgun down, Grace.’ I told them, ‘Not until I know what’s going on.’ So one of them did a body roll and knocked me down. It was a good move.”
It proved one in a series of alcohol-related headaches that ultimately prompted her to quit drinking. “I can’t drink anymore because I’m so bad at it,” she admitted during her Chronicle interview. “If I had continued I’d be dead by now. There isn’t any other drug that can turn you into an ass in just three hours. I love it. It’s fabulous. But I just can’t do it.”
At the end of April, Slick appeared before a judge and pled guilty to one count of brandishing a shotgun, part of a deal that found her agreeing to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, perform 200 hours of community service, submit to random drug testing, and abstain from alcohol.
“My lawyer got me off, where all I had to do was community service,” Slick later sighed during an interview with Counterpunch. “Now that’s a good lawyer. He was real pleasant, and didn’t charge me that much money. I would have paid him way more than what he charged me to stay the f— out of prison. But I’ve always had really good lawyers. So I don’t have the bad experience with them that other people do.”
Slick’s troubles — and her newfound sobriety — contributed to her decision to walk away from her singing career before the end of the ’90s. “You either evolve or you don’t,” she told the New York Times in 1998. “I don’t like old people on a rock-and-roll stage. I think they look pathetic, me included. And the fact that I represent an era means I can’t just go out there and do all new stuff. They would all say, ‘Sing ‘White Rabbit,’ and I’d say no? That’s rude. But can you see me singing ‘Feed your head’ as a practicing nonalcoholic? It doesn’t make sense now.”