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Passings: Joey Covington of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane (1945 - 2013)

Joey Covington, the drummer for Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane during the early 70's, was killed on Tuesday when he ran his car into a retaining wall. He was 67.

According to The Desert Sun, the Palm Springs police were called to the scene of an accident at Belardo Road and South Palm Canyon Drive at 4:53 PM on Monday. Covington, who was not wearing a seat belt, had crashed his car into a log in front of the wall which sent it airborne into a nearby driveway. Police do not suspect either alcohol or drugs were involved. A friend told reporters that Joey's wife suspected it was either a stroke or heart attack.

Covington was a self-taught drummer who was one of the founding members of Hot Tuna in 1969 along with Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Cassidy and Paul Kantner who were all on hiatus from Jefferson Airplane while Grace Slick recovered from vocal node surgery. The quartet played a number of shows in clubs, one of which was recorded for the 1970 album Hot Tuna.

The band went in the studio and recorded tracks for an album but it was never released. They spent much of their time touring with the revived Jefferson Airplane. When the tour wound down, Hot Tuna set out on their own but Covington was replaced by Sammy Piazza.

Joey had always been the backup drummer for the Airplane behind Spencer Dryden and, in February 1970, he became the permanent drummer when Dryden quit the band. It was also a time when the Airplane was going through numerous personal upheavals leading to the less than spectacular Bark (1971) and Long John Silver (1972) albums. Covington not only played drums, but also took some vocal duties including lead on the group's final charting single, Pretty As You Feel (1971/#60).

Covington also was working on his first solo album at the time that Silver was recorded, so he only had a small part in the process. He eventually left the band in mid-1972 to release and tour behind Fat Fandango.

Joey did return to the band on occasion, including the Jefferson Starship's first album, Blows Against the Empire, and their 1976 album Spitfire where he contributed the hit With Your Love (1976/#12) with co-writers Marty Balin and Vic Smith.

Later, during the 80's and 90's, he toured with the band The San Francisco Allstars.


Anonymous said…
he was 67 not 57.