Balin, Marty

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BALIN, MARTY (Martyn Buchwald ; 1942– ), U.S. singer and songwriter. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the young Balin and his family moved to San Francisco in 1948. Balin founded the seminal Bay Area rock group Jefferson Airplane (1965–71). In 1975, Balin re-formed the band under the new name of Jefferson Starship and immediately had a top-of-the-chart album, Red Octopus. He became president of the Great Pyramid Ltd. and owner of Diamondback Music Co.

Balin's distinctive, soulful voice became one of the hallmarks of the Airplane/Starship's sound, and he composed many of the band's most memorable songs, including "It's No Secret" (1966), "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (1967), "Young Girls" (1968), "Sunday Blues" (1969), "Volunteers" (1970), and Jefferson Starship's biggest hit, "Miracles" (1975).

Balin left the group in 1978, writing the rock opera Rock Justice, a fantasy about a rock star on trial for not having a hit. He then began a solo career with his 1981 album Balin, which generated the singles "Hearts" and "Atlanta Lady." After issuing Lucky in 1983, he joined former bandmates Paul Kantner and Jack Casady to form the kbc Band (1985–87). In 1989, all three participated in a Jefferson Airplane reunion, which yielded a new studio album and tour. In 1991, Balin issued Better Generation and two years later joined Kantner's Jefferson Starship – The Next Generation project, concurrently continuing his solo career with his 1997 album Freedom Flight. Balin's 1999 album Marty Balin's Greatest Hits was a compilation of re-recordings of past favorites.

With nine platinum and three gold records to his credit, Balin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and "Miracles" was inducted into bmi's Millionaires Club, having been played more than 2.7 million times.

Besides being a recording artist, Balin is a painter as well. His artwork depicts many of the musicians with whom he shared the stage, such as Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Elton John, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Kiss, Bob Marley, and Grace Slick, as well his idols Otis Redding, Robert Johnson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1999 his exhibit "World of Rock & Roll Legends" toured art galleries in the U.S.

[Jonathan Licht /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]