Hot Tuna has never come off as a Type A type of band.
It began as a laid-back spinoff from one of the all-time nerve-frazzled rock groups, the Jefferson Airplane. The Airplane took itself pretty seriously in the '60s as a setter of countercultural styles and political agendas, and it had its share of stormy internal politics among three front-line singers and songwriters, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner and Marty Balin.
In 1970, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the Airplane's lead guitarist and bassist, respectively, launched Hot Tuna as a side project devoted to the more easygoing pleasures of folk and blues roots. The two were high school friends from Washington, D.C. (Kaukonen had moved to San Francisco and hooked up in with Airplane founder Kantner; when the fledgling Airplane needed a bassist, Kaukonen summoned his old buddy, Casady). By 1972, Kaukonen and Casady had baled out of the Airplane and devoted themselves full time to Hot Tuna.
They recorded steadily, moving from an acoustic blues sound to a full-out electric approach until Hot Tuna disbanded in 1978. Over the past five years, though, Kaukonen and Casady have reunited as Hot Tuna, playing as an acoustic duo, or bringing in various helpers for different tours, including Kantner and violinist Papa John Creach. In its current incarnation, Hot Tuna is a full electric band.