Miscellaneous Rumbles

Marty Balin

1

Marty steered the SF scene mid-60's, wrote lots of good songs over a couple decades, and had a very recognizable voice.

We had great seats at The Spectrum for Jefferson Starship's best line-up right as "Miracles" was peaking.

That was a memorable show.

RIP Marty

2

Dang. Loved JA and the first couple Starship albums. Marty was always reliable, with a more pop/melodic sensibility than Kantner or Slick, and that smooth distinctive voice. He wasn’t the most prominent personality in the band (there were so many), but possibly the most “musical” of the front line (you could never fault the rhythm section). Without Marty, it’s hard to imagine the early success of either band.

And there goes another one.

3

So sorry to hear this. Although I never got to see the Airplane, I love to see/hear him and Grace sing on the old tapes. RIP.

4

Loved his voice. RIP Marty.

5

Wow, sorry to hear this. RIP Marty Balin.

6

Im very saddened to hear that Marty Balin has passed away. He was a great musician and songwriter. I loved Jefferson Airplane, I was a big fan of the first few incarnations of this group.

I remember the Jefferson Airplane very well from my youth, they were one of the best bands, coming out of the 60's. "When the truth is known, to be lies".....

RIP Marty Balin, you will be sorely missed.

7

Been a Fan of Marty's singing for a long time, great vocals in a time when everything went directly to Tape prior to enhancers and processors . But then, I'm a Fan of early Jefferson Airplane with Marty, Grace, Paul, Jorma and Jack. They wrote and performed some amazing songs. RIP Marty

8

More sad news..... I've been a fan for decades.

Rest In Peace, Marty -- and THANK YOU!

9

And then on top if it all, he had a surprise hit single in the early 80s... I guess he was still w/ Starship then.

10

I remember when Marty "took one for the team". Poor guy got knocked out, when a wild punch meant for someone else, hit him in the face. This was during the Jefferson Airplanes set, at the Rolling Stones infamous free concert, at the Altamont Speedway in December of 1969.

I used to have a video tape of "Gimme Shelter", a 1970 film that captured the terrible outcome of the Stones allowing the Hells Angels to work security at that concert.

I remember feeling very badly for everyone involved in that mess. It was a tough reminder of how hard it can be for touring bands, though those particular circumstances are rare.

Marty, you were one of the good ones , may you play forever at that Big Gig in the Sky.

11

I concur. JA and early Starship had some great stuff. It was a refreshing sound to hear. RIP Marty

12

I'd heard he had an issue with Grace Slick stealing his thunder. Once she joined the band, she took over the vocals on his songs. Still, JA and JS were quintessential '60s rock n roll.

13

A friend of mine and former bandmate bassest Richard Bassel apparently played on at least one of Marty's solo efforts. He is currently in the fight of his life with cancer. RIP Marty.

14

I was a YUUUGE Airplane fan in the late 60's. When I was 14 or 15, I was tripping around the Northern California Renaissance Faire, and Marty, Grace Slick and Jack Casady strolled past (not in period costumes, but unmistakable as themselves). Later I mustered the courage to approach Marty, and he graciously chatted with me for a bit about music, the band, and life in general.

One of the biggest thrills of my gigging life in the 80's was playing at a festival --- my band was on right before the Kantner-Balin-Casady band --- and getting to hang out with them backstage.

I figure Marty is reunited with Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson now, probably working up some new harmonies along with the old ones. Thanks for all the great songs, Marty!

15

I was tripping around the Northern California Renaissance Faire

Given the context, one can't help but wonder just how literally you mean that.


Speaking of Ren Faires, I'd certainly go to one just to see Blackmore's Night with Candace out front and Ritchie wailing on various acoustic instruments. In their ren-garb. I just find Ritchie's new life with Candace and that music a delightful thing.


OK, enough of that. Back to the Airplane appreciation.

16

"White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" and "Volunteers"were guaranteed to get the radio cranked up.

18

Sorry to hear this, and about his recent health problems. I was a huge Jefferson Airplane fan. Early on they used to rock the Fillmore East unlike anything I had ever heard before. (I can still feel it.)

19

I never saw Airplane - though always a fan - but I was fortunate to see some aggregation that amounted to the pre-Starship Starship. I don't recall how it was billed, and I don't think it included Craig Chaquico (in other words, it wasn't the pop Starship). I kinda doubt Marty was involved. But surely it was Kantner and Slick, along with whoever they needed/could draft/was available to fill it out.

Blows Against the Empire, the 1970 album credited to Paul Kanter and Jefferson Starship - the first use of that name - was and remains a landmark album for me, up there with Hendrix's first, Sgt Pepper, the first King Crimson, any of the holy Trinity of Yes albums, Tomita's Snowflakes are Dancing, and Walterwendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings. Albums that changed my notion of what music could be. Blows' combination of space-age revolution, extended folk-based suites of multi-layered harmonies, and powerful and meticulous soundscapery seemed something completely new - and, at this point, remains unique.

Anyway. At this gig I caught, side two of Blows was played in its entirety. I'm sure the rocket-sound construct "XM" was reproduced from tape - but the long flowing arc of the piece was preserved, the acoustic guitars were extraordinarily well amplified for the time (must have been 1973-74), the harmonies were exquisite (though they couldn't have had the commune of voices who contributed to the recording). And it was loud and powerful - but so preternaturally clean that it seemed less an assault than an immerssion. Man, it was a helluva thing.

As I recall, Mahogany Rush opened for the Starship band. They were loud, and also a helluva thing - but a very different helluva thing. Talk about yer sublime and ridiculous.

I doubt these reflections really belong in a Marty Balin thread, but at least it was people he knew, huh?

20

Craig Chaquico ROCKed!

When they played "Ride the Tiger" at The Spectrum to start the Show his intro was a total Knockout...he was 18yo then...

He was 14yo and recovering from some serious ailment when Kantner found him for the Kantner/Slick "Sunfighter" album.

He does Jazz now....mainly Bay Area?

21

I’ve always liked Craig. He brought a modern fluid lead style to a band of converted acoustic players. I’m a Jorma fan as well - but his leads were rooted in the 60s (at latest); Craig’s soaring lyricism was purely of the coming moment. He was surely not the problem when Starship became the pop machine it did. Loved him especially on Dragonfly, and yep on those extracurricular Airplane alumni albums. Isn’t he on Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun? Those non-Airplane albums are the best late Airplane albums...

I’ve dragged most of them out for re-appraisal lately, to laugh at my bad taste at the time - and discovered they really ARE good.

Don’t that beat all.

22

Marty steered that whole crew from going too far out of bounds!

Then "Space and Moon Shots" happened...Ha!

And, yes, there are a few way out there moments from Kantner and Slick...Jorma and Jack went Roots.

We had nearly all those albums either on LP or a dubbed cassette...I stayed a fan of all of them.

Yes, Craig is on multiple cuts on that LP...

23

I gave side 2 of Empire (I shouldn’t call it Blows, since it doesn’t...) a listen again last night, and was struck by how Grace’s piano holds it together. Without being flashy or grandiloquent in any way, there’s both rhythmic and surprising harmonic richness in it. Once you note the limitations of her voice, it’s easy to underappreciate Grace’s other musical contributions, but she really was a full contributor to the instrumental and composing dynamic of the group.

I also noticed how skillfully and interestingly (for a “lead” singer) she harmonized (though her voice always distinctive in the blend) - and how much her odd non-harmonizing often wordless descants contribute. Almost like another instrumental part. A slightly drunken Eastern European oboe maybe. The producers were smart to leave those surely improvised parts in, but not mix them high.

Loved the fluid melodic lacings of Garcia’s guitar throughout, kinda more lyrical standing alone in a loose acoustic context than when woven into the Dead’s more baroque arrangements.

And that multitrack utterly controlled harmonic feedback arrangement under the opening track “Sunrise” is astonishing. The texture is thick and 3D, the layering and overlapping harmonic content fascinating. Gotta wonder how that was conceived and worked up.

Of course Marty was nowhere in the vicinity.

24

I'll be ordering some JA and Starship replacements...over the years I ditched albums that were played out or scratched to the point of being upsetting.

I have "Bark" and "Dragonfly" on vinyl in good shape.

Look up Chaquico's wiki... interesting.

25

Sunrise on YouTube. NSFW (or possibly conservative Christian sensibilities...if you're offended by G-D used in its literal sense).

I post it not for the religion or politics, or even for Grace (whose unusual self-harmonies are a study), but for the skillful feedback symphony which accompanies it.

And it's just the brief intro to the suite which occupies side 2, bearing no unifying name but consisting of: "Sunrise", "Hijack", "Home", "Have You Seen the Stars Tonite?", "XM", and "Starship." (I like side one, far as that goes - typical of the direction Airplane would fly after 1970 - but side two has the voodoo for me.)

If you're interested, but haven't heard it or remember it only vaguely, here's Side 2, cued up, though you might have to endure commercials. (No charge for the ambience of the period-correct vinyl crackles.)

All-star cast, too: besides Kantner and Slick, you get Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Peter Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Harvey Brooks, Joey Covington, Bill Kreutzmann, Graham Nash, Mickey Hart, David Freiberg, and a Phil Sawyer (presumably responsible for rocket sci-fi noises).


I keep apologizing for talkinbout this material in a thread originally devoted to the one member who was least likely to be involved in such shenanigans - but hey - without Marty, these hippie miscreants wouldn't have achieved the early market success that earned them the latitude to experiment in this way.

In a roundabout way, we can blame it all on Marty.


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