About Alexander 'Skip' Spence
San Francisco '60s scene luminary Skip Spence started out as a guitarist in Quicksilver Messenger Service, then played drums on Jefferson Airplane's first album (Takes Off) before Jefferson Airplane's manager Matthew Katz basically formed Moby Grape around him. As the story goes, Moby Grape was recording their second record in New York City when Spence, addled by LSD and in deteriorating mental health, chopped down band mate Don Stevenson's hotel room door with an axe. He then spent 6 months in Bellevue. Upon release he secured an advance from Epic Records, bought a motorcycle and rode down to a Memphis recording studio where over the course of five days he recorded his lonely masterpiece, Oar, a damaged, beautiful record of psychedelic folk rock. Then he disappeared on his motorcycle. The tapes somehow got released (thank God) and the resultant record has long been considered a truly unique work of art. Spence eventually turned up as a homeless man on the streets of Santa Cruz, Calif., where he died in 1999.