Memorial for Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin

“Whatever happened to wishes wished on a star?” — Marty Balin

Marty Balin, the legendary founder and lead vocalist of Jefferson Airplane and hit song-writer of Jefferson Starship, passed away on September 27. His wife, Susan Joy Balin, was by his side. He was 76.


Marty had a historic career as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and platinum and gold solo artist. Balin also enjoyed painting all his life. He painted vibrant, large-scale portraits of many of the most influential musicians and good friends Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jerry Garcia, to name a few.

Marty’s fans describe him as having had a substantial impact for the better of the world: “One of the greatest voices of all time, a writer of songs that will never fade, and founder of the quintessential San Francisco band of the sixties.” His music is known for being the soundtrack to all of life’s monumental moments.

Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 30, 1942, Marty was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by parents Joe and Jean Buchwald.

“Marty was the one who started the San Francisco scene,” says Bill Thompson, Balin’s roommate back in the mid-’60s and former manag­er of both the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.

The Jefferson Airplane, initially a folk-rock venture, came to epitomize the psychedelic scene, scoring a gold record in 1967 with its second album, Surrealistic Pillow. The album was named one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Balin’s soulful tenor proved a pivotal element of the group’s sound. He also wrote key compositions including “It’s No Secret”Today,” “Comin’ Back To Me,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Share a Little Joke,” and “Volunteers.”

Back in those days Marty was quite the businessman” said Paul Kantner. “He was the leader of the band on that level. He was the one who pushed us to do all the business stuff, orchestrating, thinking ahead, looking for managers and club opportunities. He was very good at it”.

At the end of 1978, after contributing several major hits including “Miracles,” “With Your Love,” “Count on Me,” and “Runaway” with Jefferson Starship, Marty left the band. In 1981, he released his first solo album, Balin, featuring two top hits, “Hearts” and “Atlanta Lady”. Marty’s solo career proved to be as successful as his past music endeavors.

Marty is survived by his wife Susan Joy Balin, daughters Jennifer Edwards and Delaney Balin, and stepdaughters Rebekah Geier and Moriah Geier.

“Marty and I shared the deepest of love—he often called it Nirvana—and it was. But really, we were all touched by his love. His presence will be within my entire being forever.” —Susan Joy Balin


By: Susan Joy Balin

Glimpses of your smile, the warmth of your touch, the sound of your voice, as powerful as if you were here beside me.
But you are not.  You have been taken away from me and remain in the shadows of my memory.
I close my eyes and from the shadows of my memory I pull you out and in front of my being.
I touch you, I taste you, I speak to you.
But you are not physically there.
You are in the shadows of my memory.
I struggle. Kicking, crying and screaming “We had the taste of our beautiful future on our lips. You were doing so well. Why did you leave me”.
I am sitting by myself within the shadows of my memory.
Suddenly, my vision fills with the color purple. I feel you touching me, kissing me, holding me tight. I hear your loving and gentle voice whisper in my ear ”I am here my love. For while I am in the shadows of your memory I have taken you into my eternity.” I open my eyes, so full of tears, my body aching with want for you. My physical self forced to accept that you are physically no longer beside me, yet your arms wrap around me, and your children. Your beautiful and contagious smile and the twinkle in your eyes, the lightness of being in your heart, there forever and now brighter then the shadows of my memory.

My Dearest Buck you are no longer only in the shadow of my memory, you are in my waking, living and breathing moments of my being.

I will love and live for you forever.
Your Joy