Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Marty Balin Passes Away at 76
Marty Balin, guitarist and co-founder of iconic San Francisco psychedelic rockers Jefferson Airplane, has died at the age of 76. Balin’s passing was confirmed by a representative of his to Rolling Stone earlier this afternoon. The cause of death is currently unknown.
Balin started Jefferson Airplane in 1965 with Paul Kantner (who passed away in 2016) and was a part of the band’s rise to fame, riding the San Francisco sound of the late-1960s with albums like their 1967 breakout sophomore effort, Surrealistic Pillow, which spawned lasting hits “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” Along with Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and drummer Skip Spence (late singer Signe Toly Anderson was a part of the group for their debut Jefferson Airplane Takes Off but was replaced by Slick before the second album), Balin toured and recorded with the Airplane until he parted ways with the band in 1971, later joining Kantner and Slick in Jefferson Starship.
Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, OH, Balin made himself into an integral part of one of the most enduring sounds of American music. The guitarist was with Jefferson Airplane at legendary festivals like Woodstock, Monterey Pop and Altamont, and contributed songwriting, vocals and instrumentation to the band’s first five albums, up until 1969’s Volunteers. Balin and Jefferson Airplane were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement in 2016.
Below, revisit Balin’s three solo songwriting contributions to Surrealistic Pillow, “Comin’ Back to Me,” “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds” and “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” Read Relix‘s final interview with Balin from spring 2016 here.