It is a little known fact that the drummer for Jefferson Airplane, Spencer Dryden, was Charlie Chaplin's nephew. Spencer was the son of Charlie's half-brother, Wheeler Dryden, & his wife, Alyce. As a young boy, Spencer spent weekends with his father at the Chaplin Studios as well as Christmases at Charlie’s home in Beverly Hills. One famous story has 5-year-old Spencer reading “A Night Before Christmas” during a Chaplin family gathering.
Following the death of Wheeler Dryden in 1957, Spencer’s uncle, Syd Chaplin, wrote to his friend, R. J. Minney: “Wheeler had bought his son a car & gave him $25 every week to maintain it. I would have helped the boy through college, but he has no other ambition than to become a drummer in a night club orchestra & I am not interested in that….” 1
|The cover of Surrealistic Pillow (1967). Spencer is holding the banjo.|
Spencer was reportedly living in poverty the last years of his life. He died of cancer in 2005.
|After Spencer left Jefferson Airplane, he played drums for the band New Riders Of the Purple Sage,|
which included members of the Grateful Dead. Here he is with Jerry Garcia.