Artist Details

Marty Balin

While remaining best known for his contributions to the pioneering San Francisco psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane, Marty Balin also enjoyed a successful solo career, scoring a Top Ten hit in 1981 with "Hearts." Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, OH, on January 30, 1942, he was raised in the Bay Area and later attended San Francisco State University; though he initially pursued a career as a painter, after appearing in a production of West Side Story Balin turned to music, issuing the solo singles "Nobody But You" and "I Specialize in Love" on Challenge in 1962. Two years later he joined the folk combo the Town Criers, followed by a brief stint with the Gateway Singers; in 1965, Balin met singer/guitarist Paul Kantner at the local club the Drinking Gourd, and together they formed Jefferson Airplane. Initially a folk-rock venture, the group came to epitomize the nascent psychedelic scene, scoring a gold record with their 1967 sophomore LP Surrealistic Pillow; although vocalist Grace Slick was the focal point of hits such as "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit," Balin's soulful tenor proved a pivotal element of their sound as well, and he also wrote key compositions including "Today," "Share a Little Joke," and "Volunteers."