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Saturday, September 29, 2018

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

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 Balin cuke page with photos and memories by Gene DeSmidt