Jefferson Starship Biography
Last updated: 10/07/2014 06:40:52 PM
As an inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and founder, vocalist and songwriter of the Jefferson Airplane and later Jefferson Starship, Marty Balin's role in the birth of 60's music has earned him a place in the annals of rock history. His chart-topping single "Miracles" from his Jefferson Starship days has sold millions of copies and has become a radio standard. The song has been inducted into BMI's Millionaires club having been played 2.7 million times.
Marty came to the attention of San Leandro Theatre operator and recording company owner Rene T. Lamarre, who was impressed to the point of arranging a demo session, which led to Marty's first recording contract with Challenge Records in LA. The first release for Marty Balin, at the age of twenty, was "Nobody But You." The rest is the stuff of which legends are made.
Emerging from the folk culture of the early '60's, Balin invited musician friends to jam, exploring the nascent electric sound that was taking over the burgeoning San Francisco music scene. That was the birth of The Jefferson Airplane. The band, which epitomized the supercharged psychedelic culture of the 60's in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, was named for guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's dog "Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane;" but it was singer/songwriter Balin who infused identity and character into one of rock's must long-lived bands.
Needing a venue to play, Balin opened a new and now legendary nightclub called The Matrix, where artists such as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and others graced the stage. Airplane was "discovered" on the first night they performed at the Matrix and signed with RCA Records. The group achieved notoriety as a flamboyant San Francisco rock band, playing "be-ins," "love-ins," and, of course, Bill Graham's Fillmore. Jefferson Airplane took off on its psychedilic flight, with founder and lead singer Marty Balin driving the group to score numerous gold and platinum records.
Jefferson Airplane became the seminal force in the cultural earthquake that shook San Francisco, ultimately bringing about the "Summer of Love" in '67. Hits like "Somebody To Love," "White Rabbit," and "Volunteers" typified their music - a mixture of poetry, politics and psychedelia.
The year 1967 saw the beginning of many changes for an entire generation. Balin left the Airplane at the end of the 60's and after playing with some local Bay area groups, was re-enlisted by the reformed JEFFERSON STARSHIP in the '70's and recorded Marty's song, the monumental hit "Miracles," which became a bigger hit for Starship than any song ever done by the Airplane.
Eventually, through both incarnations of Jefferson Airplane, and later the Jefferson Starship, Balin and company logged 9 platinum albums and two gold. Marty's final curtain call with the Jefferson Starship came in late 1978, when he decided to turn his talents towards writing and directing the critically acclaimed musical, ROCK JUSTICE, a fantasy about a rock star on trial for not having a hit!
Ironically, in 1981 Marty's first solo album, "BALIN," was released by EMI Records and he finally scored with two major singles, "Hearts," and "Atlantic Lady," which still receive regular airplay. This album went gold in Japan. In 1983, his second solo release, "LUCKY," produced the love songs "What Love Is" and "Do It For Love." In 1986, Marty re-teamed with ex-bandmates, Jack Cassidy and Paul Kantner in the group KBC to release a successful, self-titled album on Arista Records.
During the fall of 1991, Marty signed with GWE Records, and recorded Better Generation in the label's digital Golden Studios. The album was dedicated to Marty's close friend, Bill Graham, who died in a helicopter crash while the album was being recorded in New Hampshire. Included in the collection is "Summer of Love," which Marty sang for Bill Graham, a song which recalls the innocent beauty of San Francisco during the summer of '67.
Marty's haunting vocals are still played regularly on almost every radio station in America. Whether he's singing the soft, beautiful ballads or the strong rockers, Balin is one of the most distinctive and charismatic singers in rock. Now the voice that America has listened to and loved for over thirty years, is back with new material and still singing some of his earlier hits like "Count On Me," "Runaway," "Volunteers," "Today," "Coming Back to Me," "St. Charles," "Caroline" and "With Your Love," sounding stronger and better than ever and ready to wow audiences of all ages!
With nine platinum and three gold records in his arsenal, Balin is also ready to embark on yet another artistic journey. Before he began his legendary rise to stardom, he dreamed of being an artist in a different medium. Alongside his music he loved painting. Initially, Marty creatively designed his own course of study, spending many hours, painting, researching art history and studying the masters.
Ultimately, he was awarded a scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts, where he received high praise and excellent grades for his work. As a result, one of his paintings was displayed in a Chicago art gallery. Marty's other art accomplishments include Christmas card designs, as well as set and scenery designs for theater performances.
All during his involvement in the exciting and intoxicating world of Rock 'n Roll, Marty continued to paint the world around him. His paintings are of the incredible talents and inspirations of those with whom he shared the stage, such as Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Elton John, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Kiss, Bob Marley, Airplane's Grace Slick and many of his idols including Otis Redding, Robert Johnson and Jerry Lee Lewis. His work is intense with color and brings to life legends of an era we all know and cherish; moments engraved in time.
In January 1999, Susan Paul, his exclusive art representative, scheduled the premiere show of Marty Balin's "World of Rock & Roll Legends" at the Nuance Galleries in Tampa, Florida. After a successful two month show, the exhibit is now about to embark on a journey across the nation.
"If only you believe like I believe...," from the song "Miracles," written by Marty Balin, could be the motto for Marty's own life. "I'm a spiritual-oriented person and I believe that music and art can help change the world for the better" he says. Marty's art show is a tribute to the world of Rock & Roll and the incredible vision of one who helped shape a generation that changed the world.