Marty Balin from Jefferson Airplane dead at 76

Marty Balin

Marty Balin, co-founder, co-vocalist and guitarist of legendary psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, has died at the age of 76. "His presence will be within my entire being forever", his wife said in a statement.

The guitarist and singer, who co-founded the San Francisco psychedelic rock band in 1965, co-wrote five songs on the band's breakthrough LP Surrealistic Pillow.

"We didn't even know what we were doing when we started doing it", Kantner told Rolling Stone in 1970. He also wrote key compositions including "It's No Secret" "Today", "Comin' Back To Me" "Plastic Fantastic Lover" "Share a Little Joke", and "Volunteers".

His tenor voice became a key component of Jefferson Airplane's signature sound.

Marty Balin
Image Balin at the Grammy Awards in 2016

Their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was released in 1966 and began their ascent to a central role in the exploding US West Coast psych-rock scene, where hits like the disorientating White Rabbit and Somebody to Love found a rapturous audience. A member of the group during festivals like 1969's Woodstock and Altamount, Balin left Jefferson Airplane in 1971, only to be persuaded to return in 1974 when members of the group reinvented themselves as Jefferson Starship, becoming a full member in 1975.

Balin left and re-joined the group several times through the years as the band's lineup rotated and name changed to Jefferson Starship, then Starship. "Long time since I climbed down this mountain before", Balin crooned, with his most prescient lyrics to follow. Balin later sued New York's Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, claiming the hospital ruined his musical career with a botched tracheotomy following the surgery.

Multivocal harmonies were a staple of the Airplane, with Balin and Slick soaring over one another and Kantner weaving in. In a 2011 interview, Kantner said this interplay is "maybe the best thing I do in the bands that I've been in".

In addition to his widow, Balin is survived by daughters Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and stepdaughters Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.

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