Hot Tuna

Hot Tuna

Infobox musical artist
Name = Hot Tuna

Img_capt = Hot Tuna at MerleFest, 2006. Left to right, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhof.
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Washington, D.C., USA
Genre = Rock, Blues, Acoustic
Years_active = 1969 – present
Label = RCA Records
Associated_acts = Jefferson Airplane
URL = []
Current_members = Jack Casady
Jorma Kaukonen
Barry Mitterhoff
Erik Diaz
Past_members = Paul Kantner
Marty Balin
Joey Covington
Will Scarlett
Papa John Creach
Paul Ziegler
Sammy Piazza
Bob Steeler
Greg Douglass
Nick Buck
Shigemi Komiyama
Michael Falzarano
Joey Stefko
Peter Kaukonen
Harvey Sorgen
Galen Underwood
Pete Sears

Hot Tuna is an American blues-rock band, formed by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen as a spin-off of Jefferson Airplane. They play acoustic and electric versions of original and traditional blues songs. [ [ Hot Tuna on All Music Guide] ] [ [ Hot Tuna discography on Music City] ]


Hot Tuna began by opening Jefferson Airplane concerts, giving Kaukonen and Casady an opportunity to explore their love of traditional blues music. As Jefferson Airplane slowly wound down in the early 1970s, Hot Tuna -- for whom live performance was always of prime importance -- became an independent group. Their early repertoire was derived mainly from American country blues artists such as Rev. Gary Davis, Jelly Roll Morton, Bo Carter and Arthur Blake (Blind Blake). Originally a duo, Casady and Kaukonen added Will Scarlett on harmonica and released a live album in 1970, "Hot Tuna". This album was recorded in the fall of 1969 at the New Orleans House in Berkeley and is affectionately known by Tunaphiles as the "breaking glass album", because of the sound of breaking beer glasses during the recording of "Uncle Sam Blues". This LP was followed by a long series of well received albums that played mostly to a small but devoted cult following. Aside from the six year breakup after 1978, Hot Tuna have continued to perform to the present day, and still performs much of the aforementioned country blues repertoire with which they began.

Following the release of the eponymous debut album, the band went electric, adding fellow Airplane bandmates Marty Balin and Joey Covington on lead vocals and drums, respectively. This configuration was dominated by the latter two's soul-rock compositions and opened most shows for the parent band throughout late 1969 and 1970. After a string of disastrous concerts in Jamaica (from which a live album was to be compiled) marked by flaring tensions between Balin and Kaukonen - a portion of the group's advance earmarked for the singer had already been spent without his consent - Casady and Kaukonen briefly resumed their acoustic performances. In the autumn of 1970, they returned to the electric band format, adding violinist Papa John Creach and Texan drummer Sammy Piazza. This line-up was documented on the album "First Pull Up, Then Pull Down" (1971), recorded live at the Chateau Liberte (a nondescript club favored by the band) in Santa Cruz. The studio albums "Burgers" (1972) and "The Phosphorescent Rat" (1973) followed. These two albums featured compositions mainly of Kaukonen original material and included some of the guitarist's most delicate and poetic works. David Crosby sang supporting vocals on the Burgers track "Highway Song," and keyboards player Nick Buck made his first appearance on what would become a semi permanent tenure during the 1970s.

The year 1974 marked a departure from their primarily bluesy, acoustic style when Hot Tuna morphed into a heavy rock band. The albums "America's Choice" (1975), "Yellow Fever" (1975), and "Hoppkorv" (1976), showcase a power trio with the addition of new drummer Bob Steeler.This trilogy is referred to by the group as their "rampage years." Kaukonen's electric guitar playing was exceptionally multi-layered as evidenced by the solos on "Funky #7" and "Serpent of Dreams" on "America's Choice." This style continued on "Yellow Fever," on tracks such as "Song for the Fire Maiden," "Sunrise Dance with the Devil," and the closing number "Surphase Tension." Hot Tuna live performances during this period were typified by free-flow improvisational jams and very long sets (up to six hours uninterrupted) with extended versions of their studio material. Because of this, they are often considered a forerunner of modern jam bands, such as Phish.

After the release of the double live album "Double Dose" in 1978 and the compilation "Final Vinyl" in 1979, Casady and Kaukonen went their separate ways and pursued short-lived careers in the new wave bands SVT and Vital Parts, respectively. They re-formed Hot Tuna in the mid-1980s with guitarist and producer Michael Falzarano. Their first album of all new material in almost 14 years was 1990's "Pair a Dice Found" with New Yorker Harvey Sorgen playing drums. Kaukonen and Falzarano both contributed original songs.

Throughout the 1990s, Tuna again alternated between acoustic and electric styles. The two "Sweetwater" albums were predominantly acoustic sets with guests Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead, singer Maria Muldaur, and ex-Rod Stewart, Jefferson Starship keyboards player Pete Sears; the latter was to join the group on a permanent basis during the decade. The 1997 release "Live in Japan" was in many ways reminiscent of the very first Hot Tuna album, having a minimalistic sound and being recorded live at a tiny venue (Stove's in Yokohama). [ [ Bendersky, Ari. "Hot Tuna in the Raw", "Rolling Stone", April 24, 1998] ] Falzarano stayed with the band until 2002 when he left to release and promote his solo album "The King James Sessions," which also featured Pete Sears. [ [ Metzger, John. "Hot Tuna Blues", "The Music Box", February 1998] ]

Other musicians have come and gone over the group's several incarnations, as Hot Tuna has always been a fluid aggregation, but the name "Hot Tuna" has essentially become shorthand for "Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen." Most recently (2004-2006), they have toured with multi-instrumentalist Barry Mitterhoff and drummer Erik Diaz. In April 2006, Hot Tuna appeared at Merlefest, America's largest folk music festival. In 2007, they played at Bonnaroo. Throughout the band's history they garnered much fan support based on their pro-taping policy, allowing fans to record their live shows. In July 2006 the band changed their stance and no longer permits taping.

As former members of Jefferson Airplane, Kaukonen and Casady are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They became members in 1996.

Band name

The band name Hot Tuna came from someone Kaukonen refers to as a "witty wag" who called out, "hot tuna" after hearing the line 'What's that smell like fish, oh baby,' from the Blind Boy Fuller song "Keep on Truckin." Kaukonen decided it was a good band name and it stuck ever since. [ [ Montgomery, Marie. "Get Groovy with Hot Tuna", "Fairfield University Mirror", December 13, 2007] ] Before their debut album was released, their name was seen on the Jefferson Airplane Volunteers album lyrics insert with a mock headline proclaiming "Hot Tuna! R. Nixon Misplaced. For details see sports section." The band's fans often refer to them loudly as "Hot Fucking Tuna." Even Airplane lead vocalist Grace Slick, who joined the two on stage for their performance of "Third Week in the Chelsea" during the Airplane's 1989 reunion tour, introduced the pair with the middle expletive.


*Jack Casady - Bass (1969 - present)
*Jorma Kaukonen - Guitar, Vocals (1969 - present)
*Paul Kantner – Guitar (1969), (1987 - 1988)
*Will Scarlet - Harmonica (1969 - 1971)
*Marty Balin - Vocals (1969 - 1970)
*Joey Covington - Drums (1969 - 1970)
*Paul Ziegler – Guitar (1970)
*Papa John Creach - Violin (1970 - 1973)
*Sammy Piazza - Drums (1970 - 1974)
*Andre Trottier - Mandolin (1972 - 1978)
*Bob Steeler - Drums (1974 - 1978)
*Greg Douglass - Guitar (1975)
*Nick Buck - Keyboards (1977)
*Michael Falzarano - Guitar (1984 - 2002)
*Shigemi Komiyama - Drums (1984 - 1985)
*Harvey Sorgen - Drums (1985 - 2004)
*Peter Kaukonen - Guitar (1989 - 1990)
*Pete Sears - Keyboards (1992 - 2001)
*Barry Mitterhoff - Mandolin (2002 - present)
*Eric Diaz - Drums (2004 - present)


* "Hot Tuna" (1970)
* "First Pull Up, Then Pull Down" (1971)
* "Burgers" (1972)
* "The Phosphorescent Rat" (1973)
* "Quah" (1974) (by Jorma Kaukonen with Tom Hobson, produced by Jack Casady)
* "America's Choice" (1975)
* "Yellow Fever" (1975)
* "Hoppkorv" (1976)
* "Double Dose" (1978)
* "The Last Interview?" (1978)
* "Final Vinyl" (1979 compilation)
* "Splashdown" (1984)
* "Historic Live Tuna" (1985)
* "Pair a Dice Found" (1990)
* "Live at Sweetwater" (1992)
* "Live at Sweetwater Two" (1993)
* "Trimmed & Burning" (1995) (UK release)
* "In a Can" (1996 compilation of "Hot Tuna", "First Pull Up Then Pull Down", "Burgers", "America's Choice" and "Hoppkorv")
* "Classic Hot Tuna Acoustic" (1996)
* "Classic Hot Tuna Electric" (1996)
* "Splashdown Two" (1997)
* "Live in Japan" (1997)
* "The Best of Hot Tuna" (1998)
* "And Furthurmore..." (1999) In 2004 Eagle Records re-mastered and re-released "Live in Japan", "Live at Sweetwater" and "Live at Sweetwater Two" with some new tracks that hadn't been included on the Relix releases and some tracks removed.


External links

* [ Hot Tuna Official Website]
* [ Hot Tuna Official Live Downloads]

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