Marty Balin, Jefferson Airplane singer and co-founder, dies aged 76

The singer died on Thursday (September 27) with his wife by his side

Marty Balin, singer and co-founder of US psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, has died. He was 76-years-old.

The guitarist and singer, who founded the group in San Fransisco in 1965 died on Thursday (September 27) with his wife – Susan Joy Balin – by his side, spokesperson Ryan Romenesko said.

“We have lost a true legend,” a statement on the band’s Facebook page read. “Marty Balin helped start a revolution that still lives on today. He will be greatly missed – our hearts go out to his family, friends and music fans everywhere – Team Jefferson Airplane.”

You can read some of the many tributes to Balin here:

Jefferson Starship, a spin-off band Balin also played for a number of years also released a statement online. “With heavy hearts, we learn today of the passing of Marty Balin. He was a true talent and inspiration to many. We send his family and friends our deepest condolences.”

Balin co-founded Jefferson Airplane with the late guitarist Paul Kanter in 1965. The band launched it’s debut album, ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off’ in 1966. A month after the release, singer Grace Slick joined the band. She wrote ‘White Rabbit’ and proved crucial to their early commercial success.

Their pro-drug stance and psychedelic leanings made them a band central to San Francisco’s sub-culture scene in the 1960’s. The band went on to play Woodstock Festival in 1969 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Marty Balin – Credit: Getty

Balin left Jefferson Airplane in 1971, blaming the band’s excessive drug use for his departure. He later teamed up again with Kautner in the Jefferson Airplane spin-off Jefferson Starship. With Balin on lead, the band had a series of hits including ‘Miracles’, ‘With Your Love’ and ‘Count on Me.’

Balin left Jefferson Starship in 1978 to focus on a solo career but once again reunited with Kautner to form KBC. This eventually led to a Jefferson Airplane reunion album and tour in 1989.

American rock group Jefferson Airplane performs on stage at the Central Park bandshell, New York City, August 1969. L-R: Guitarist Paul Kantner, drummer Spencer Dryden, singer Grace Slick, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady, singer Marty Balin. Credit: RCA Records/Getty Images

Balin had reportedly undergone heart surgery in 2016 and filed a civil lawsuit this year for alleged malpractice against a hospital in New York City.

His wife also released a statement: “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 my entire being forever.”