Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin has died of unknown causes at the age of 76. Spokesman Ryan Romenesko told the Los Angeles Times that Balin was on the way to a hospital in Tampa in Florida on Thursday when he faltered. He leaves behind a huge legacy in rock and Balin was the one who started the San Francisco scene. Another incredibly important rock personality is dead.
Martyn Jerel Buchwald was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jan. 30, 1942, and was raised in the San Francisco area. Equally inspired by the Beatles and other British Invasion acts, he formed Jefferson Airplane with the like-minded Paul Kantner in 1965. Paul Kantner died two years ago, so our childhood heroes disappear one by one.
With folk venues declaring their music too loud, Balin opened his own club called the Matrix that summer, providing a home to other adventurous groups such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Jefferson Airplane became the house band.
Within two years, they were one of the country’s hottest acts. Balin’s soulful voice contrasted with co-singer Grace Slick’s edgier sound on songs like It’s No Secret, Come Up The Years, Today, and Volunteers. He co-wrote five tracks on the seminal Surrealistic Pillow, and appeared on stage with the Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock, the Monterey Pop Festival, and Altamont. Over time, however, Kantner and Slick largely took control of the band, and a frustrated Balin left in 1971.
«I thought everybody was kind of an asshole», Balin told Rolling Stone earlier this year. «It was a period of cocaine then … everybody took cocaine. And people I would work with, they would yell at you and it got intense. The Airplane was on that kind of trip. You know, I personally just drank alcohol. But some of the chemicals made people crazy and very selfish, and it just wasn’t any fun to be around for me. So I bailed».