Marty Balin Biography

Martyn Jerel Buchwald, 30 January 1942, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. A former painter, sculptor and dancer, Balin began his recording career in the early 60s. Two singles for Challenge, a prominent Los Angeles label, invoked the saccharine pop of the era, whereas two subsequent groups, the Town Criers and the Gateway Singers, were reminiscent of the New Christy Minstrels. Inspired by the Byrds’ ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, the singer, who had relocated to San Francisco, founded Jefferson Airplane in August 1965. His compositions and voice were crucial to the band’s initial momentum and their first three albums owed much to his romanticism. However, the balance of power began to shift as the unit became politicized and by the time of 1969’s Volunteers, the singer’s role had been greatly reduced.

Balin left Jefferson Airplane in April 1971 and initially pursued a low-key career in music. He produced an album for Grootna, several members of which then joined the singer for Bodacious D.F. , a cumbersome unit whose only album was a great disappointment. Balin rejoined his former colleagues, now renamed Jefferson Starship, in 1975 when his cameo appearance, performing ‘Caroline’ on Dragonfly, proved popular. His return coincided with Jefferson Starship’s most successful period, which included a US number 1 single, the Balin-penned ‘Miracles’. Despite this success, in 1979 Balin again left the line-up, and having completed the soundtrack to Rock Justice, he embarked on a high-profile solo career. Following the surprising success of Balin he enjoyed a US Top 10 hit in 1981 with ‘Hearts’ and a Top 30 hit that same year with ‘Atlanta Lady (Something About Your Love)’.

Many of Balin’s ensuing releases lacked a foil against which the artist could pitch his stylish songs, and in 1986 he joined former Jefferson Airplane stalwarts Paul Kantner and Jack Casady in the KBC Band. Finally, as the full circle was completed, the original Jefferson Airplane was re-formed in 1989. In the mid-90s, Kantner, Casady and Balin turned their attentions to resurrecting the Jefferson Starship name. In recent times, Balin has relocated to Florida and now has a passion for painting.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.