John Barbata, a veteran rock drummer best known for playing with Jefferson Starship in the '70s, has died. He was 79.

The band paid tribute to him on its Facebook page, writing, "We are saddened to hear of the passing of the great John Barbata, Jefferson Starship’s original drummer. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans. Rock in peace, Johnny!"

Best Classic Bands reported that Barbata died on May 8, but no cause of death was given.

The New Jersey-born Barbata was Jefferson Starship's original drummer, having played on the band's precursor, Jefferson Airplane, on their final album, 1972's Long John Silver, and tour before they changed their name and direction.

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Jefferson Airplane also paid tribute on their Facebook page. "Rest in Peace, John Barbata, a legendary drummer for Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship," they said.

"Known for his exceptional talent, John left his mark on the music world by playing with bands such as the Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Back in '72, during a hiatus for CSN&Y, David Crosby introduced John to the Airplane, who hired John instantly. You can hear John's drumming skills on the band's final studio album, Long John Silver, as well as on the live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland. Rest in Peace, John."

What Songs Did Drummer John Barbata Play On?

As Jefferson Airplane noted in their social media post about Barbata, the drummer was a prolific and popular musician at the time. His big break came in 1966 when he joined the Turtles for three years. His drumming can be heard on some of their biggest and best songs, including "She'd Rather Be With Me," "You Showed Me" and "Elenore."

In 1970 he joined Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, playing drums on their 1971 live album 4 Way Street and their 1970 single "Ohio." Barbata went on to perform with all of the group's members on solo and band projects throughout the '70s.

He became a part of Jefferson Airplane as the band was putting together its final album and tour in 1972; when they changed their name to Jefferson Starship and released their debut album in 1974, he became an original, founding member.

He played on all their albums through 1978's Earth, including 1975's No. 1 Red Octopus, which featured the No. 3 hit "Miracles." A car accident in 1978 left Barbata with a broken neck, arm and jaw, prompting him to retire from the band and, soon after, from playing with popular touring bands.

Barbata built a recording studio in Comptche, California, and played locally for the rest of his life. He and his wife Angela Evans recorded two albums together in the '80s. Evans died in 2016, but Barbata continued to perform with his daughter and friends.

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Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp