He was a pivotal figure of the 1960’s San Francisco and West Coast Rock scene
Remembering The Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin
With the Jefferson Airplane, Balin wrote several of Psychedelic Rock most enduring classics, and also split lead vocals with the two lead singers, first Signe Toly Anderson during the band’s first two years, and then with Grace Slick. Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald; January 30, 1942 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Balin was the primary founder of Jefferson Airplane, that were formed in a restaurant-turned-club he created and named the Matrix, a San Francisco hotspot for 1960’s Rock bands and artists (The Doors famously played there shortly after releasing their first album in a series of concerts that were later released). Between 1965 and 1971, Balin released with the Jefferson Airplane albums such as the acclaimed 1967 “Surrealistic Pillow”, including some of his best known songs like “Plastic Fantastic Lover”, “Today” and “Comin’ Back to Me”, also in 1967 the band released “After Bathing at Baxter’s”, another Psychedelic Rock classic, in 1968 “Crown Of Creation” and in 1969 “Volunteers” that featured another hit written by Balin, the title song “Volunteers” (co-written with guitarist Paul Kantner). The band played on some of the late 1960’s major Rock music festivals, including the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the 1969 Woodstock Festival and the infamous 1969 Altamont Free Concert, the Rolling Stones festival that resulted in several deaths and where Balin was knocked unconscious by members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, as seen in the 1970 documentary film “Gimme Shelter”. In 1971 he left the Jefferson Airplane following the completion of their autumn 1970 American tour. He remained active in the San Francisco Bay Area rock scene, managing and producing other bands and artists. In 1975 Balin joined the Jefferson Starship, born from the ashes of the Jefferson Airplane, but abruptly left the group in October 1978 shortly after singer Grace Slick’s departure from the band. During the rest of his career Balin remained active in the music scene, though never repeating the same success he had with the Jefferson Airplane during the 1960’s. At the same time he developed a talent for painting and painted many of the most influential musicians of the last half of the 20th century. Along with other members of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship bands, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and as a member of the Jefferson Airplane, he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. While on tour in March 2016, Balin was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City after complaining of chest pains, which resulted in an open-heart surgery. Marty Balin passed away Thursday September 27, 2018 at age 76. He was the 4th member of the Jefferson Airplane to die and the third in a two year period, in 2016 original singer Signe Toly Anderson and guitarist Paul Kantner also passed away on the same day and same age.
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