Martyn Buchwald, more commonly known by Marty Balin who was the singer, guitarist and co-founding member of the psychedelic rock group Jefferson Airplane, died on Thursday at the age of 76. According to Rolling Stone, the cause of Balin’s death is currently unknown. Balin was recently preceded in death by his Jefferson Airplane bandmate and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner, who died at the age of 74 in 2016.
Balin had helped form the rock band in 1965 following attempts at a solo career as a folk musician earlier in the decade. Once the British Invasion took off in America, Balin became inspired to form a louder rock project that would eventually become known as Jefferson Starship along with Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden. Jefferson Airplane would go on to help soundtrack the turbulent and experimental 1960s along with other bands emerging out of the San Francisco music scene like the Grateful Dead and Santana.
As mentioned in the report, Balin helped co-write five songs on the band’s 1967 breakout album, Surrealistic Pillow. Balin was also one of the “brutally beaten” attendees at 1969’s Altamont Festival when the Hell's Angels were hired to work security and ended up killing a young man in the audience. Jefferson Airplane would go on to dissolve by the early 1970s, but eventually turned into the more successful Jefferson Starship. Balin was also involved in both bands’ reunions in 1989 and then again in the 1990s before stepping down permanently.
The band’s statement on Balin’s passing shared on Friday evening reads, “We have lost a true legend. Marty Balin helped start a revolution that still lives on today. He will be greatly missed - our hearts go out to his family, friends and music fans everywhere.”
The report also goes on to state that Balin had suffered an array of health issues following open heart surgery in 2016.