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Jefferson Airplane: 1967

Jefferson Airplane: 1967

        Marty Balin, a founder, lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking San Francisco psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane and a key member of its 1970s successor, Jefferson Starship, died on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He was 76.

February 1967. San Francisco. "Rock group The Jefferson Airplane. Members Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden and Grace Slick posing outdoors." Color transparency from photos by Jim Marshall for the Look magazine assignment "Jefferson Airplane Loves You." View full size.

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RIP Marty Balin

Jefferson Airplane along with Hendrix and the Byrds marked my first entrance into Psychedelic Hippie culture. Fortunately, I never saw any anger or violence. Inviting Hell's Angels to any party is bound to have negative consequences. Well let's see, Grace slick got stranger, Jack and Jorma have a now senior hot tuna band and Jefferson Starship kinda lost me. So now I am just counting down and mellowing out.

Spencer Dryden

I am on the coaching staff of a high school soccer team and we have a freshman player with the last name Dryden. The head coach typed up the roster for the first game of the season recently and he listed the kid as "Spencer Dryden," which is nowhere close to the kid's first name. When I pointed out the mistake, the coach said he wasn't sure where he'd gotten the name Spencer. I think I know now, and I think our old-school 68-year-old head coach might have been a little hipper in his day than we young guys give him credit for.

Charlie Chaplin's Nephew

Drummer Spencer Dryden's half-uncle was Charlie Chaplin. His father was Chaplin's half-brother. He kept that hidden from his bandmates.

Altamont Heroics

The Jefferson Airplane was onstage at Altamont when the Hell's Angels starting beating Meredith Hunter, an 18 year-old African-American who they had seen dancing with a white girl in front of the stage, with pool cues.* Marty Balin jumped off the stage and tried to stop the initial fight. He was the only person who tried to intervene and was knocked unconscious for his trouble.

Later, Hunter returned with a gun and he was stabbed to death by one of the bikers.

A bit later, Marty complained loudly to Sonny Barger, the leader of the Angels, who knocked him out again.

*They claimed that this was because he had knocked over one of their motorcycles but those claims are probably spurious.

The Music

That kept us going during long sessions in the drafting studio. Once heard, never forgotten. R.I.P. indeed.

Ironic, or Coincidence?

I was viewing Aretha Franklin photos on Facebook and came here wondering if there were any, and the first photo I see is of the Jefferson Airplane.

Rest in Peace to Marty, all those singers and all that time is way before my time, but I love the music and I love the time. They are all passing on, their music still here and they are still alive in their music.

I would love to see more photos of entertainers from that time, if I happen to come upon some of my own, I certainly will upload.

Wasn't That a Time?

Their music is part of the soundtrack of my life. Turn a page.
Rest in Peace, Marty!

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