Marty Balin, the legendary founder and lead vocalist of Jefferson Airplane and hit song-writer of Jefferson Starship, passed away on September 27. His wife, Susan Joy Balin, was by his side. He was 76.
Marty Balin was a respected singer, songwriter, and musician best known as lead vocalist and founding member of Jefferson Airplane, as stated by Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Acadmy.
In the 1960s, the group became the biggest breakthrough psychedelic rock band with the release of Surrealistic Pillow, which included the hit songs "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love."
Alongside Jefferson Airplane, Balin was honored with the Recording Academy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for his outstanding artistic contributions to the field of recording. Balin was as a pioneer of psychedelic rock and will be remembered for bringing the signature sound to San Francisco and beyond.
STATEMENT FROM SUSAN JOY BALIN AND FAMILY:
Marty had a historic career as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and platinum and gold solo artist. Balin also enjoyed painting all his life. He painted vibrant, large-scale portraits of many of the most influential musicians and good friends Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jerry Garcia, to name a few.
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, and founder of the quintessential San Francisco band of the sixties." His music is known for being the soundtrack to all of life's monumental moments.
Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 30, 1942, Marty was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by parents Joe and Jean Buchwald. “Marty was the one who started the San Francisco scene,” says Bill Thompson, Balin’s roommate back in the mid-’60s and former manager of both the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
The Jefferson Airplane, initially a folk-rock venture, came to epitomize the psychedelic scene, scoring a gold record in 1967 with its second album, Surrealistic Pillow. The album was named one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Balin’s soulful tenor proved a pivotal element of the group’s sound. He also wrote key compositions including “It’s No Secret” “Today,” “Comin’ Back To Me” “Plastic Fantastic Lover” “Share a Little Joke,” and “Volunteers.” “Back in those days Marty was quite the businessman” said Paul Kantner. “He was the leader of the band on that level. He was the one who pushed us to do all the business stuff, orchestrating, thinking ahead, looking for managers and club opportunities. He was very good at it”.