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Marty Balin Biography

Home > Music > M > Marty Balin > Biography

Birth Name: Martyn Jerel Buchwald
Born: 1942/01/30
Birth Place: Cincinnati, Ohio
Years Active: 1965-present
Genres: Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, AOR, Acid Rock

Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 30, 1942, Balin was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and was a prominent part of the 1960s San Francisco music scene. He is best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. Growing up, Balin was always involved in art and music and initially wanted to pursue a career as a painter. After appearing in a production of West Side Story, Balin's love for music was re-ignited. In 1962 Balin signed with Challenge Records, releasing the singles "Nobody But You" and "I Specialize in Love.” By 1963, Balin was leading a folk music quartet called, The Town Criers, followed by a brief stint with the Gateway Singers in 1965. That same year Balin formed Jefferson Airplane: “I wanted to play with electric guitars and drums, but when I mentioned that notion in clubs that I played, the owners would say, "We wouldn’t have you play here, not with drums and electricity. This is a folk club. So I decided to open my own club.” Balin opened the Matrix night club on August 13th 1965 featuring his new band Jefferson Airplane.

When Balin met singer/guitarist Paul Kantner they realized they had a lot in common musically and wanted to form a form a folk-rock venture, which turned into Jefferson Airplane. The band's second album, “Surrealistic Pillow” went Gold. While lead singer, Grace Slick generated much attention in the band, Balin played a huge part in writing some of the band's hit songs. In 1971, Balin left Jefferson Airplane and the group, Grootna, whom he recorded vocals for and produced the album, “Bodacious DF.” Meanwhile, Kantner had also left Jefferson Airplane and formed Jefferson Starship. Kantner and Balin began to work together again and co-wrote, "Caroline,” which was featured on the “Dragon Fly” album. Balin went on to become a permanent member of Jefferson Starship by 1975, and continued to write hit songs for the band, including "Miracles," "With Your Love," "Count on Me," and "Runaway.” However, by 1978 Balin had left the group.

Balin embarked on a solo career, beginning with a rock opera called "Rock Justice," in 1979. A few years later in 1981, Balin released his first solo album, “Balin,” which spawned two Top 40 hits: "Hearts," peaking at #8 and "Atlanta Lady," peaking at #27 on the Billboard Singles Chart. 1983 saw Balin's second offering, “Lucky,” which wasn't as successful as Balin's first effort. Balin's contract with EMI ended shortly thereafter. 1985 saw Balin working with Kantner again, and Jack Casady, to form the KBC Band. The band lasted for four years until a reunion album and tour with Jefferson Airplane emerged in 1989. Despite working on an on-and-off basis with Kantner as part of Jefferson Starship, and doing the odd Jefferson Airplane reunion, Balin continued to record as a solo artist in the years that followed.