NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

May 23, 2013

Mickey Thomas pilots Starship to Beverly

With a tenor voice that soars like a rocket, Mickey Thomas is the perfect singer to lead a band named Starship.

But it was as lead vocalist for the Elvin Bishop Group on the 1976 hit single “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” that Thomas got his breakthrough in the music industry.

“In the business and among peers, it was a great calling card for me after that,” said Thomas, who will appear at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly on Saturday.

Fans are less quick to identify Thomas with “Fooled Around,” until they hear him sing it in concert.

“To this day, when I perform it live, people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was you,’” he said.

“Fooled Around” reached No. 3 on the charts and elevated the Elvin Bishop Group from playing in clubs — where it had a loyal following as a blues and roots rock band — to touring with acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The song also elevated Thomas to the job of lead singer for Jefferson Starship in 1979, when he started recording the string of No. 1 hits that people do associate with his name, many of which he will perform on Saturday.

“We do everything from ‘Jane’ to ‘Stranger’ and ‘No Way Out,’” Thomas said. “‘We Built This City,’ and ‘Nothing’s Going to Stop Us’ and ‘Not Enough.’ And, of course, ‘Fooled Around and Fell in Love.’”

Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, as the act is known, will also reach back to the band’s origins in the music of Jefferson Airplane.

“Stephanie and I take a portion of the show, and like to pay homage to the whole history of the band,” Thomas said. “Stephanie does ‘White Rabbit.’”

Stephanie Calvert, who now tours with Thomas, has a powerful voice and bears a passing resemblance to Grace Slick, one of the original lead singers for Jefferson Airplane and its successor, Jefferson Starship.

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