Best Classic Bands reports that drummer John Barbata, whose long list of credits is topped by prime-era stints with The Turtles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, has died.

His death, believed to be on May 8, 2024, was confirmed by reliable local sources in Ada, Okla., where he lived. No cause or place has been reported as yet. Barbata, who was known professionally at different times as John, Johny or Johnny, turned 79 on April 1, 2024.

He was born in 1945, in Passaic, N.J., but made his name as part of the California rock scene of the ’60s and ’70s. Barbata’s first band of any significance was the Sentinals, an instrumental surf music group based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., between 1961-65. (The band also included future keyboard star Lee Michaels.)

In 1966, Barbata auditioned for The Turtles at the suggestion of The Byrds’ Gene Clark, and he joined that hitmaking outfit in time to perform on the group’s chart-topping classic “Happy Together.” He also contributed drums to such hits as “She’d Rather Be With Me,” “You Showed Me,” “Elenore” and “She’s My Girl.” Barbata was a member of the band when it performed such high-profile gigs as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and American Bandstand.

Barbata remained with The Turtles into 1969, when he was recruited by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to replace their drummer, Dallas Taylor. Barbata can be heard on the quartet’s live album, 4 Way Street, as well as solo and collaborative projects by all four co-leaders of the band, including Neil Young’s Time Fades Away and Graham Nash’s Songs For Beginners.

In 1972, while CSNY were on hiatus, David Crosby introduced Barbata to Jefferson Airplane, who hired him to replace drummer Joey Covington. Barbata played on the band’s final studio album, Long John Silver, and the live Thirty Seconds Over Winterland, and when the Airplane packed it in, he played with members Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and David Freiberg on their 1973 album Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun, then joined the offshoot they were forming, Jefferson Starship. Barbata contributed to the new group’s first four albums—Dragon Fly, Red Octopus, Spitfire and Earth—but was forced to leave in 1978 after being involved in a catastrophic car accident, breaking his neck, arm and jaw.

Jefferson Starship paid tribute to Barbata on social media, 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!”

Jefferson Airplane also honored Barbata, writing, “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 him instantly. You can hear John’s drumming skills on the band’s final studio album, Long Live John Silver, as well as the live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland. Rest in Peace, John.”