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Marty Balin

9-29-19 - RIP Marty Balin

Marty Balin, a Founder of Jefferson Airplane, Dies at 76 - NY Times

Marty was a close friend of Gene DeSmidt. The photo is from DeSmidt Design Build dot com in the pyramid atop Marty's Mill Valley Home Gene designed and built. 



Marty Balin's former Marin County Residence

Gene on Marty
Gene DeSmidt page

"I was working in Mill Valley in the summer of 1978. I was building a Pyramid on top of Marty Balins house on E. Blythedale. at the time Marty had written and recorded the hit Miracles with the "StarShip". he would have coffee made for me every morning at 8 am. we would eat lunch every day together. I found out that he had quit the band and was sort of hiding out (Grace slick would come by every friday and pound on the door...me and Marty would hide in the closet) he asked me several times "Geno...I'm out of work right now...if you ever need my help. ley me know ok ?"  I heard him ask other friends the same thing..but they all laughed at him...well a few months later I  was down at Tassajara building the old new bath house and bridge. I really needed someone to come down and help me with the framing, So I called Marty on a whim and I said.."Hey man can you come down and help me at Tassajara. He said "Ok man...can I bring my dog ?" I gave him directions and he drove his little Honda down. I went out to Carmel Valley and Picked him up. I said "Dude I cant believe you're coming down to help me"  He said "Man I asked a bunch of people if they needed my help...and you were the only one to ask me !

Well we got down there (we stayed together in old "Stoneroom # 1")  and I had the best Apprentice anyone ever had...he spent the whole week helping me mill wood..cut and carry lumber and believe it or not did clean up. One night he told me a story of how his manager, Bill Thompson, had arranged right before the "Monterey Pops Festival (1968) for the whole band to come to Tassajara and meet Suzuki Roshi.  Marty told me that they all dropped acid down there and then had dinner with Suzuki...Marty said that they all sat and ate in total stoned silence ..never said a word...and Suzuki did the same...I guess they all just stared at each other for an hour or so.

I really loved Marty and I got to know him on a very creative level..but also on a deeply spiritual level as well

Rest in Peace my Brother

Gene is gonna miss you

See photos of Marty below - at Tassajara, with Gene's mom, with TDL

David Evan and Gene wrote a couple of songs that Marty recorded on his solo album "Balin"

Hold Me and When Love Comes - both on Youtube at those links


DC on Marty Balin

Marty and other members of the Jefferson Airplane came to Tassajara as soon as the first guest season opened May 1st (I think) 1967.  I served them in the dining room and remember them being rather well-behaved. I can't remember how many meals or how long they were there. Overnight I think. Shunryu Suzuki had one meal with them and Gene DeSmidt tells about that which helps to explain why they were so well-behaved.

I met Marty through Gene and played him a bunch of my songs. He considered recording Shootin' the People in the TV Adds. Another one, Walking My Baby Frog, he sang for a promo for the Kids Summer Festival back around 1980. He was supportive of Californians for a Nuclear Freeze movement I worked with in the early 1980s and so was his father, Joe Buchwal, who was his manager. I once told Joe that Marty reminded me of Jerry Brown, how he held cards close and was a rather private person - that made Joe really mad. Marty was a sharp observer, quiet, who'd say witty things at times like, "Everybody wants to be in the here and now. I want to be in the there and then." 

Marty said he was down in LA promoting his early eighties hit Hearts (good song) and was being "DJ for an hour" at the big pop station there. He said they were sort of slick and made him feel a little creepy. But they told him to play his favorites, whatever he wanted so he said, OK, let's start with Marvin Gaye's Sexual Vibration and the guy said, "Well, how about something else." So he named a few other choices and each one was rejected. He said, "Well what do you want?" and the answer came, "We don't play black people Marty." I remember how back then MTV also wasn't playing black musicians' videos. Anyway, that attitude was rolled over by reality before long.

Back then Marty lived alone in a modest home near downtown Mill Valley. Alone with his little dog which he loved. He was recording in LA and he got word his dog was ill. He immediately flew back and said he was distraught and crying. Got a letter from him when I was living in Japan. He'd married and moved to Florida. After that I'd hear about him now and then from Gene who wrote not long ago about Marty's medical problems.

Marty had a nice little night club on Filmore Street that I stumbled upon in 1966 when I first arrived in San Francisco and heard there a new band called Big Brother and the Holding Company with a great lead singer, Janice Joplin. 

Farewell Marty. Thanks for the hearts. - dc

Marty with the Dalai Lama

Gene and Marty taking a break from building the old new baths at Tassajara 1978

Marty attacking Gene with a beam which Gene surely deserved

Marty and Gene's mom

Not long ago