American rock group Jefferson Airplane performs on stage at the Central Park band shell in New York City in August 1969. Showwn from left to right are guitarist Paul Kantner, drummer Spencer Dryden, singer Grace Slick, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady and singer Marty Balin, who died Thursday.
Marty Balin, who co-founded psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane in 1965 and helped steer it to fame, died Thursday at 76.
Rolling Stone reported that Balin’s publicist had confirmed the death but called the cause of death unknown.
Balin wrote many of the songs on the band’s breakthrough album Surrealistic Pillow and was present at its best-known appearances, including Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival.
“Their heady psychedelia, combustible group dynamic and adventuresome live shows made them one of the defining bands of the era,” as the band’s entry on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website put it. The group was inducted to the hall in 1996.
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“The Airplane evolved from roots in folk and blues to become a psychedelic powerhouse and a cornerstone of the San Francisco sound. They were the first band on that scene to play a dance concert, sign a major-label record contract (with RCA) and tour the U.S. and Europe. In addition they espoused boldly anarchistic political views and served as a force for social change, challenging the prevailing conservative mind set in ‘White Rabbit’ and issuing a call to arms in ‘Volunteers.’ ”
Jefferson Airplane received a lifetime achievement award at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
Jorma Kaukonen, a co-founder of the group, eulogized his friend on Facebook, while fans mourned the musician on Twitter:
Other musicians, including Stevie Van Zandt, and Martha Quinn, one of the first so-called VJs on MTV, also remembered Balin on Twitter: