Jefferson Airplane's Co-Founder Marty Balin Dies at 76

Jefferson Airplane co-founder Marty Balin died on Thursday, his family announced Friday. He was 76.

Balin's wife, Susan Joy Balin, confirmed the sad news, but did not disclose the cause of death. He is also survived by two daughters, Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and two stepdaughters, Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.

"Marty and I shared the deepest of love—he often called it Nirvana—and it was. But really, we were all touched by his love. His presence will be within my entire being forever," Susan said in a statement.

"Daddy was daddy," Delaney added.

Balin was born in Cincinnati and was one of the leaders of Jefferson Airplane, serving as lead vocalist alongside Grace Slick and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner. The group's hits during the 1960s include "White Rabbit," "Somebody To Love," "Volunteers" and "Wooden Ships." Their second album, Surrealistic Pillow, is widely regarded as one of the best albums of the 1960s.

“Back in those days Marty was quite the businessman," Kantner said in a statement. “He was the leader of the band on that level. He was the one who pushed us to do all the business stuff, orchestrating, thinking ahead, looking for managers and club opportunities. He was very good at it”.

Balin left the group in 1971, but later returned in 1975 after the group became Jefferson Starship. He appeared on many of their biggest hits during that period, including "Miracles," "With Your Love" and "Count on Me." He left again in 1978 and started a solo career in 1981. Balin scored his biggest solo success with the 1981 single "Hearts."

The guitarist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane in 1996. The group also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.


In a recent interview with Songwriters Universe, Balin said he was working on an album of his own songs and another featuring songs written by Jesse Barish. In that same interview, Balin said one thing he loved the most about the original Jefferson Airplane line-up was their originality and freewheeling songwriting process.

"You know, I would tell the bass player, [and we would work out] a bass line, and I’d get the drummer to kick in. I’d tell the guys... this is what I want to sing. And I’d tell the keyboard player [what I had in mind]," Balin recalled. "I would help arrange the song and pull it together. And we’d write lyrics — whatever comes to mind, no big deal…you know, not anything deep about them. I would sing, and the music has to fit the words. Our main thing was that we wanted to be original. We didn’t play a blues…we didn’t try to do anything that wasn’t our own music. I liked that we were original."