Marty Balin

Marty Balin - The heart and soul of an iconic band - who will be missed. (photo: Arthur Rosato)

Jefferson Airplane – In Concert 1967 – RIP: Marty Balin – (1942-2018) – Past Daily Soundbooth

Marty Balin
Marty Balin – The heart and soul of an iconic band – who will be missed. (photo: Arthur Rosato)

Jefferson Airplane – In Concert from Winterland – March 11, 1967 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

With the sad news of the passing of Marty Balin earlier today, I was struggling for words to express just how profound his contribution has been to music, and certainly music of the Psychedelic era of the 1960s.

And so, not to shirk responsibilities, but to share what I think is the most apt and heartfelt sentiment, I decided it only fitting to share the announcement via the Marty Balin Facebook page:

With a heavy heart we share this sad news.

“Whatever happened to wishes wished on a star?” —Marty Balin

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 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”.

At the end of 1978, after contributing several major hits including “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count on Me,” and “Runaway” with Jefferson Starship, Marty left the band. In 1981, he released his first solo album, Balin , featuring two top hits , “Hearts” and “Atlanta Lady”. Marty’s solo career prove d to be as successful as his past music endeavors.

Marty is survived by his wife Susan Joy Balin, daughters Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and stepdaughters Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.

“Marty and I shared the deepest of love—he often called it Nirvana—and it was. But really, we were all touched by his love. His presence will be within my entire being forever.” —Susan Balin

“Daddy was daddy.” —Delaney Balin

So as way of sonic tribute, here is a concert from Winterland, the second of three nights, from March 11, 1967 broadcast over KMPX in San Francisco.

Rest In Peace Marty – life has been a much better adventure because of you.

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