With the death Thursday of Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin, there are only three members of that band’s iconic line-up left. That fact is not lost on one of them, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, who remembered Balin on his website.
In a post titled Requiem For a Friend, Jorma writes, “Jack [Casady] and I were in Northampton, Massachusetts at the Academy of Music and we were just getting ready to do our soundcheck. I knew that Marty had been sick, and I knew in a general way that he had grievous issues. But I did not really know what they were. Marty always kept a lot of shade on himself. I stood there in the little room in the wings, stage left… struck dumb. What can you say? We always say and hear, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ but what does that really mean? We say it. We have to say it and then in the confines of our hearts we try to process the sorrow and search for the words that really convey what we feel. It is an imperfect process…
“It was fortuitous that we were able to stay connected in a loose way over the years. He and his friends graced our stage at the Fur Peace Station in Ohio and he was able to join us at the Beacon Theater in New York City the year we celebrated Jack’s 70th birthday…
“Coming to grips with reality is a process that starts at birth. I am always stunned when one of my friends passes and yet, it would seem that at some point we will all take that journey. It’s almost like, ‘How can this be? There are things I need to say.’ There were indeed things I needed to say and the fault for that lack lies on me and me alone. I don’t think any of us really think that we will live forever, yet often that thought lies dormant in the back of our minds. At my age my world is starting to be surrounded by passing. I will miss my friends who rest on the banks of the River of Time and I am reminded to make the most of every moment as I am swept downstream! Marty’s passing reaffirms the power of love, the power of family, the power of possibilities.
“So many of our brothers and sister from that time are gone -- Skip Spence, Spencer Dryden, Joey Covington, Papa John Creach, Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and now Marty have all joined the Heavenly Band as Rev. Davis would say.
“We were young together. I would like to think we made a difference. As for Grace Slick, Jack Casady and myself…
“Now we are three…”
You can read more in the blog section at JormaKaukonen.com.
Jorma and Jack formed Hot Tuna in 1969. Balin was a member of that band in 1969 and ’70.
Team Jefferson Airplane also issued a statement on Balin’s death: “We have lost a true legend. Marty Balin helped start a revolution that still lives on today. He will be greatly missed -- our hearts go out to his family, friends and music fans everywhere.”