Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin has died. He was 76. His cause of death at this time is unknown. Balin’s family confirmed his sudden death on Facebook writing, “With a heavy heart we share this sad news.” His wife, Susan Joy Balin, was by his side.
The Grammy-nominated musician died in Tampa, Florida, while en route to a nearby hospital, spokesman Ryan Romensko said.
In addition to his wife Susan, Marty is survived by his daughters Delaney Buchwald and Jennifer Buchwald with ex-wife Karen Deal.
Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald, Balin was a struggling folk guitarist on the San Francisco scene when he formed a band with Paul Kantner after meeting the 12-string guitarist at a hootenanny. They met up with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady, drummer Skip Spence and singer Signe Toly Anderson and cut their 1966 debut LP Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. They developed a strong following around the budding San Francisco rock scene, but became nationwide superstars in 1967 when Anderson left the group and was replaced by Grace Slick.
Balin co-wrote five songs on their breakthrough LP Surrealistic Pillow , including “Comin’ Back to Me” and album opener “She Has Funny Cars,” and his tenor voice became a key component of their signature sound. He played with the group at all of their most famous gigs, including the 1967 Human Be-In in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, The Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and Altamont. At the latter gig, Balin was brutally beaten by the Hells Angels after he dove into the audience to help an audience member in distress. “I woke up with all these boot marks all over my body,” he told Relix in 1993. “I just walked out there. I remember Jorma saying, ‘Hey, you’re a crazy son of a bitch.’”
Marty had a historic career as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and platinum and gold solo artist.
We here at MFU wish his family and friends tranquility during this time of sadness and loss, and thank Marty for the joy he gave so many in his life.