Jorma Kaukonens’ 50 plus year career began in his hometown of Washington DC when he and friend Jack Casady formed their first band, the Triumphs. Later, attending Antioch college, Kaukonen learned the fingerpicking style of guitar playing and got his introduction to the music of the Reverend Gary Davis which became an integral part of his performances.
Moving on to northern California, Kaukonen enrolled at Santa Clara University where he played in coffee houses and accompanied Janis Joplin on some acoustic demos. From there Kaukonen helped form Jefferson Airplane, followed by Hot Tuna and when that band broke up, he continued a solo career he began when Hot Tuna was still active.
Jorma Kaukonen has continued his solo career and work with Hot Tuna over the decades. His career has also been marked by numerous collaborations, from working with Jaco Pastorius to collaborating with former members of the Grateful Dead.
2022 was a landmark year for Kaukonen. Paired with Jack Cassidy, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo continued their five decade plus career with Hot Tuna marking the 50th anniversary of their first studio record Burgers.
The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 Jorma’s House was released, bringing a piece of often-whispered-about rock ’n’ roll history to modern turntables. The record is a fly-on-the-wall document capturing a rehearsal between Kaukonen and Janis Joplin, both at the time up-and-coming musicians in the Bay Area of California.
Kaukonen and Joplin met in 1962 at a hootenanny while he was attending Santa Clara University, and he began accompanying her at gigs around the area. “At the time, with this tiny little coffee shop that I doubt held more than 40 or 45 people, she needed somebody to back her up. We were just fooling around backstage, and we just kind of liked each other musically,” Kaukonen said.