Drummer John Barbata Dead at 79, Played with The Turtles, CSNY, Jefferson Starship & Others

John Barbata, a veteran drummer who played with such popular bands as The Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane, and Jefferson Starship, has died at age 79.

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According to Best Classic Bands, Barbata is believed to have passed away on May 8. His death was confirmed by reliable sources in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was residing.

[RELATED: Jefferson Airplane Was Relaunched as Jefferson Starship 50 Years Ago]

Barbata was born in Passaic, New Jersey, but his family eventually relocated to California. As a teenager, he played in a popular surf-rock group called The Sentinels with future solo star Lee Michaels.

With The Turtles

In 1966, Barbata joined The Turtles, and played on many of the pop-rock group’s most successful singles. Barbata was featured on the chart-topper “Happy Together,” the No. 3 hit “She’d Rather Be with Me,” and the No. 6 hit “Elenore.” The latter was co-written by Barbata.

With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

In 1970, Barbata was invited to join Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young after the group’s original drummer, Dallas Taylor, was fired. Barbata is featured on CSNY’s chart-topping live album, 4 Way Street, and the band’s enduring protest anthem “Ohio.”

Barbata’s Session Work

During the 1970s, Barbata also contributed to various albums by the members of CSNY, including solo projects by Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young, as well as Nash and David Crosby’s first duo album. His session work during the early ’70s also included recordings by Ry Cooder, Johnny Rivers, John Sebastian, Judee Sill, The Everly Brothers, J.D. Souther, The Byrds, and Grace Slick.

With Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship

In 1972, while CSNY was on hiatus, Barbata joined Jefferson Airplane. He played the band’s 1972 studio effort Long John Silver, and the live album Thirty Seconds over Winterland.

The drummer also was featured on the star-studded 1973 Jefferson Airplane-related side project album, Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun. He then joined Jefferson Starship, the Airplane spinoff group formed by Paul Kantner, Slick, and David Freiberg. Barbata played on that group’s first four albums, including the chart-topping 1975 record Red Octopus. He’s featured on such hits and popular tunes as “Ride the Tiger,” “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count On Me,” and “Runaway.”

Barbata was forced to leave Jefferson Starship after a serious car accident in 1978 in which he suffered a broken neck, arm and jaw.

Barbata’s Memoir, and His Missed Opportunity to Join the Eagles

In 2007, Barbata published a memoir titled The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer.

In the book, the drummer reveals that he was approached by music mogul David Geffen in 1973 and asked to join a new group, but he declined the invitation.

“Geffen called me into his office and said, ‘Hey, there’s this new band I want you to drum for called The Eagles,’” Barbata recalled. “I said, ‘The Eagles? I’ve never heard of them.’”

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