Marty Balin was the lead singer and founder of Jefferson Airplane. Marty’s very distinctive, soulful voice became one of the hallmarks of the Airplane’s sound, and he composed many of the band’s most memorable songs, including Volunteers, It’s No Secret, Coming Back to Me and Today.
Balin’s distinctive voice and style are heard on memorable recordings including the Billboard top chart hits “Miracles,” “Hearts,” “Atlanta Lady,” “Count On Me” and “Runaway” and album, radio, film and television soundtrack classics such as “Comin’ Back to Me,” “Today,” and “Volunteers.” A variety of musical styles are represented in his concert performances, from his classic hits with Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship to new songs from recent albums and current studio sessions
As the recognized leader, Marty called the shots for the group. In typical San Francisco fashion, however, he seemed to rely on instinct as much as on any thought-out plan. When original drummer Jerry Peloquin was sacked, Marty brought in his replacement, Alex “Skip” Spence, who had never played drums professionally — Marty thought he “looked like a drummer.” (As it turned out, Skip was a quick study.) Marty later was responsible for firing Skip when the latter failed to show up at rehearsals.
Marty was also the Airplane’s chief songwriter. He wrote the first single, It’s No Secret (1966), as well as most of the material on the first two albums.
Balin was born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Catherine Eugenia “Jean” (née Talbot) and Joseph Buchwald. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe. His father was Jewish and his mother was Episcopalian. Marty attended Washington High School in San Francisco, California.
In 1962, Martyn Jerel Buchwald renamed himself Marty Balin. He began recording with Challenge Records, releasing the singles “Nobody But You” and “I Specialize in Love.” By 1964, Balin was leading a folk music quartet called The Town Criers with fellow band members Larry Vargo, Jan Ellickson, and Bill Collins.
In 1971, he departed Jefferson Airplane, and went on to produce an album for the group Grootna before joining them and recording vocals for the album Bodacious.
In 1974, Paul Kantner asked Marty to write a song for his new Airplane offshoot group, Jefferson Starship. Together they wrote “Caroline” which appeared on the album Dragon Fly. Marty joined Jefferson Starship in 1975 and contributed to several hit songs including “Miracles, “With Your Love” , “Count on Me” , and “Runaway”. In 1978, Balin left the group.
Balin continued with EMI as a solo artist, and in 1981 he released his first solo album, Balin, featuring two songs that became Top 40 hits, “Hearts” and “Atlanta Lady” . This was followed in 1983 by a second solo album, Lucky along with a Japanese-only EP produced by EMI called Theres no Shoulder. Marty still performs across the country and is currently releasing a new Album called GOOD MEMORIES, to be followed by other surprise albums in the making.
Balin has enjoyed painting all his life. He has painted many of the most influential musicians of the last half of the 20th and 21st century. Most of whom were his friends or fellow performers. His fantasy paintings of Le Petomane, Paris 1896, is his other subject. The only performer with whom he had never performed. Marty Balin’s Atelier/Gallery is located at 130 King Fine Art in Saint Augustine Florida, Balin’s permanent signature collection Gallery.
Marty Balin resides in Florida and San Francisco with his wife Susan Joy Buchwald, formerly Susan Joy Finkelstein. Together they have four daughters; Balin’s daughters: Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and Susan’s daughters: Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.