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Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Dead at 76

Jefferson Airplane Co-Founder Dead at 76
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Vocalist and guitarist Marty Balin, a co-founder of the legendary rock band Jefferson Airplane and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has died. He was 76.

Rolling Stone reports that Balin's rep has confirmed his passing, with no cause of death given. He underwent open-heart surgery in 2016, later complaining of a paralyzed vocal cord, bedsores, loss of a thumb and part of his tongue, and kidney damage in the aftermath.

Balin played on all of the band's '60s albums, including "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" (1966), "Surrealistic Pillows" (1967), and "Volunteers" (1969), and at their most iconic live performances, including the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. He was famously beaten unconscious by members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969.

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Balin bailed on the group in 1971, severing ties with his old bandmates, a move he blamed — in a 1993 Relix magazine interview — on personality clashes fueled by drug abuse.

By 1974, he was co-writing the song "Caroline" for the offshoot group Jefferson Starship, joining as a member in 1975. Over a three-year period, he sang lead on some of the new group's biggest hits, including "Miracles" (1975), "With Your Love" (1976), "Count on Me" (1978), and "Runaway" (1978).

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Jefferson Starship in 1978, with Balin top left

He followed bandmate Grace Slick out of the band in 1978, going on to achieve solo success with singles like "Hearts" (1981). He also formed the KBC Band, participated in a Jefferson Airplane reunion tour in 1989, and joined Jefferson Starship once more for a stint (1993-2008).

Along with music, he was an accomplished painter.

He is survived by his wife Susan Joy Balin, two daughters, and two stepdaughters.

Balin was remembered in a tweet signed by Team Jefferson Airplane as "a true legend."