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Violinist Papa John Creach first came to the notice of rock fans when he joined Jefferson Airplane and its spin-off group, Hot Tuna, in 1970. By that time, he was already in his early fifties, a veteran of jazz and blues associations, while his fellow bandmembers were still approaching 30. Nevertheless, using an electrified violin, Creach added a new psychedelic edge to the Airplane in its final days. The band split in 1972, by which time Creach had begun to release solo albums on its custom label, Grunt. The Airplane was reorganized and relaunched as Jefferson Starship, and Creach was with it through its million-selling Red Octopus album in 1975. He continued to make solo albums through 1992, when he released Papa Blues. Papa John Creach died of heart failure in 1994 at the age of 76.
Papa John Creach (born John Henry Creach; May 28, 1917 – February 22, 1994) was an American blues violinist who played for Jefferson Airplane (1970–1975), Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation, the San Francisco All-Stars (1979–1984), The Dinosaurs (1982–1989), and Steve Taylor. Creach was also a frequent guest at Grateful Dead concerts.
Life and career 
Creach was born at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He began playing violin in Chicago bars when his family moved there in 1935, and later joined a local cabaret band, the Chocolate Music Bars, and toured the Midwest with them. Moving to Los Angeles in 1945, he played in the Chi Chi Club, spent time working on an ocean liner, appeared in several films, and performed as a duo with Nina Russell.
In 1967, Creach met and befriended drummer Joey Covington. When Covington joined the Jefferson Airplane in 1970, he introduced them to Creach, who was invited to join Hot Tuna. Although regarded as a session musician, he would remain with the band for the next four years, before leaving in 1974 to join Jefferson Starship and record on their first album, Dragonfly. Creach toured with Jefferson Starship and played on the band's hit album Red Octopus in 1975. Around 1976 Creach left to pursue a solo career. Despite this, he was a guest musician on the spring 1978 Jefferson Starship tour.
A year later, Creach renewed his working relationship with Covington as a member of the San Francisco All-Stars, as well as with Covington's Airplane predecessor, Spencer Dryden, as a member of The Dinosaurs. He also continued with occasional guest appearances with Hot Tuna, and was on stage at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1988 when Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna were reunited with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick for the first time since Jefferson Airplane disbanded.
In 1992, he became one of the original members of Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation and performed with them until suffering a heart attack during the 1994 Northridge earthquake on January 17, 1994. As a consequence of the heart attack, Creach contracted pneumonia, from which he died a month later at the age of 76.
Jefferson Starship performed a benefit concert to raise money for his family after his death and released tracks from their performances as the album Deep Space/Virgin Sky.