Marty Balin (born Martyn Jerel Buchwald; January 30, 1942 – September 27, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician best known as the founder and one of the lead singers and songwriters of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
In 1962, Buchwald changed his name to Marty Balin, and 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.
Balin was the primary founder of Jefferson Airplane, which he “launched” from a restaurant-turned-club he created and named the Matrix, and was also one of its lead vocalists and songwriters from 1965 to 1971. In the group’s famous 1966–1971 iteration, Balin served as co-lead vocalist alongside Grace Slick.
Rejoining the team he had helped to establish, Balin became a permanent member of Jefferson Starship in 1975; over the next three years, he contributed to and sang lead on four top-20 hits, including “Miracles” (No. 3, a Balin original), “With Your Love” (No. 12, a collaboration between Balin, former Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington, and former Grootna/Bodacious DF lead guitarist Vic Smith), Jesse Barish’s “Count on Me” (No. 8), and N.Q. Dewey’s “Runaway” (No. 12).
While on tour in March 2016, Balin was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City after complaining of chest pains. After undergoing open-heart surgery, he was transferred to an intensive-care unit to spend time recovering. In a subsequent lawsuit, Balin alleged that neglect and inadequate care facilities on the hospital’s behalf had resulted in a paralyzed vocal cord, loss of his left thumb and half of his tongue, bedsores, and kidney damage.
Balin died on September 27, 2018, at the age of 76.