Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin dead at 76

Irene MckinneyOct 01, 2018

Marty Balin, the legendary founder and lead vocalist of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and hit songwriter of JEFFERSON STARSHIP, passed away on September 27.

"Marty and I shared the deepest of love - he often called it Nirvana - and it was", said Susan Balin. But really, we were all touched by his love.

"Marty's fans describe him as having had a substantial impact for the better of the world: One of the greatest voices of all time, a writer of songs that will never fade", said a statement from his family.

The statement did not mention a cause of death for the co-founder of the band.

He had heart surgery in 2016 and in August this year he filed a civil lawsuit for malpractice against a New York City hospital, saying he left the hospital with a damaged tongue and vocal chords.

Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, OH, Balin made himself into an integral part of one of the most enduring sounds of American music.

Among the artists that opened for the group were the Grateful Dead, Santana, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Who, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Steve Miller.

In 1975, Balin re-teamed with Katner to co-found Jefferson Starship, a side project that proved to be nearly as successful as the main group it sprung from.

Jefferson Airplane members in their San Francisco apartment on December 5, 1968. "With heavy hearts, we learn today of the passing of Marty Balin", they wrote.

The group cemented its reputation with a performance at the 1969 Woodstock festival.

The band went through various line-ups, and Mr Balin left Jefferson Starship in 2008 to focus on a solo career. In 1985, he teamed with Kantner and Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady in the KBC Band, and in 1989 he participated in a reunion album and tour with Jefferson Airplane. He also starred with its successor, Jefferson Starship.

Marty Balin, pictured here in 2016, has died with his wife at his side.

Jefferson Airplane was founded when Balin, keen at the time to fuse his folk roots with rock and roll, met fellow folkie Paul Kantner from the profuse San Francisco music scene.

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