Marty Balin

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Marty Balin
Marty Balin guitar strong light.JPG
Balin in a live performance, 2011
Background information
Birth name Martyn Jerel Buchwald
Born (1942-01-30) January 30, 1942 (age 74)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Genres Psychedelic rock, folk rock, pop rock, soft rock, acid rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Years active 1964–present
Labels Challenge, EMI, GWE
Associated acts Jefferson Airplane, KBC Band, Jefferson Starship
Notable instruments
Ovation Acoustic guitars
Balin performing at a concert in Hallandale, Florida

Marty Balin (born Martyn Jerel Buchwald; January 30, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter and musician best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.

Early life[edit]

Balin was born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Catherine Eugenia "Jean" (née Talbot) and Joseph Buchwald. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe. His father was Jewish and his mother was Episcopalian. Marty attended Washington High School in San Francisco, California.


In 1962, Buchwald changed his name to Marty Balin and began recording with Challenge Records, releasing the singles "Nobody But You" and "I Specialize in Love".[1] By 1964, Balin was leading a folk music quartet called The Town Criers.

Balin was a founder and one of the lead vocalists for Jefferson Airplane from 1965 to 1971. In the group's famous 1966-1971 iteration, Balin served as co-lead vocalist alongside Grace Slick and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner. While his output diminished after Surrealistic Pillow (1967) as Slick, Kantner, and lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen matured as songwriters (a process compounded by Balin's eschewal of the group's burgeoning "ego trips"), his most enduring songwriting contributions—often imbued with a romantic, pop-oriented lilt atypical of the band's characteristic forays into psychedelic rock—include "Comin' Back to Me" (a folk rock ballad later covered by Ritchie Havens and Rickie Lee Jones), "Today" (a collaboration with Kantner initially written on spec for Tony Bennett that was prominently covered by Tom Scott), and, again with Kantner, the topical 1969 Top 100 hit "Volunteers". Although uncharacteristic of his oeuvre, the uptempo "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" and "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (both written for Surrealistic Pillow) remained integral components of the Airplane's live set throughout the late 1960s.[1][2]

In April 1971, Balin departed Jefferson Airplane. He elaborated upon this decision in a 1993 interview with Jeff Tamarkin of Relix: "I don’t know, just Janis's death. That struck me. It was dark times. Everybody was doing so much drugs and I couldn’t even talk to the band. I was into yoga at the time. I’d given up drinking and I was into totally different area, health foods and getting back to the streets, working with the American Indians. It was getting strange for me. Cocaine was a big deal in those days and I wasn’t a cokie and I couldn’t talk with everybody who had an answer for every goddamn thing, rationalizing everything that happened. I thought it made the music really tight and constrictive and ruined it. So after Janis died, I thought, I’m not gonna go onstage and play that kind of music; I don’t like cocaine."[3]

Shortly thereafter, Balin went on to manage and produce an album for the Berkeley, California-based sextet Grootna[4] before briefly joining funk-inflected hard rock ensemble Bodacious DF as lead vocalist on their eponymous 1973 debut.[5] The following year, Kantner asked Balin to write a song for his new Airplane offshoot group, Jefferson Starship. Together they wrote the early power ballad "Caroline", which appeared on the album Dragon Fly with Balin as guest lead vocalist.[1]

Balin became a permanent member of Jefferson Starship in 1975; over the next three years, he contributed to four Top 20 hits, including "Miracles" (#3; a Balin original), "With Your Love" (#12; a collaboration between Balin, former Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington and former Grootna lead guitarist Vic Smith), a cover of Jesse Barish's "Count on Me" (#8), and N.Q. Dewey's "Runaway" (#12).[6][1] Nevertheless, Balin's relationship with the band (then beleaguered by manifold interpersonal problems, including Slick's longstanding alcoholism and his own reticence toward live performances) remained highly equivocal. He abruptly left the group in October 1978 after Slick's departure from the band.[1]

In 1979, Balin produced a rock opera entitled Rock Justice,[7] about a rock star who was put in jail for failing to produce a hit for his record company, based on his experiences with the lawsuits fought for years with former Jefferson Airplane manager Matthew Katz.[1] The cast recording was produced by Balin but did not feature him in performance.

Balin continued with EMI as a solo artist, and in 1981 he released his first solo album, Balin, featuring two Jesse Barish songs that became Top 40 hits, “Hearts” (#8) and “Atlanta Lady” (#27). This was followed in 1983 by a second solo album, Lucky, along with a Japanese-only EP produced by EMI called There's No Shoulder. Balin's contract with EMI ended shortly after.[1]

In 1985, he teamed up with Paul Kantner and Jack Casady to form the KBC Band.[1] After the breakup of the KBC band, a 1989 reunion album and tour with Jefferson Airplane followed.

Balin continued recording solo albums in the years following the reunion, and reunited with Kantner in the latest incarnation of Jefferson Starship.[1]

Balin had intended to record lead vocals for two tracks for Jefferson Starship's album, Jefferson's Tree of Liberty. However, his art touring schedule conflicted with studio sessions and instead the track “Maybe for You” from the German release of Windows of Heaven was included.[8][9]

On July 2, 2007, the music publishing firm Bicycle Music, Inc. announced that it had acquired an interest in songs written or performed by Balin, including hits from his days with Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Balin has also enjoyed painting all his life. He has painted many of the most influential musicians of the last half of the 20th century.

Marty Balin's Atelier is located at 130 King Fine Art in Saint Augustine, Florida, Balin's permanent signature collection gallery. [11]

Marty Balin resides in Florida and San Francisco with his wife Susan Joy Balin, formerly Susan Joy Finkelstein. Together they have five daughters; Marty's daughters Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and Susan's daughters Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.

Balin was married to Tampa musician Karen Deal from 1989 until her death in 2010. Karen is the mother of Marty's daughter, Delaney, born in 1995.[12][13]


with Jefferson Airplane
with Bodacious DF
with Jefferson Starship
with KBC Band
Solo albums


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tamarakin, Jeff (2003). Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-03403-0. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Columbia 31033
  5. ^ APL1-0206
  6. ^ Billboard Magazine Charts
  7. ^ EMI America SWAK-17036
  8. ^ Jefferson's Tree of Liberty (CD booklet). Jefferson Starship. The Lab Records. 2008. 3020617382. 
  9. ^ New Jefferson Starship Album Of Formative Folk Treasures: Jefferson's Tree Of Liberty,
  10. ^ Catalog of Bicycle Music
  11. ^ Balin, Marty. "Marty Balin- Bio". Marty Balin. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links[edit]