November 21, 1974: Marty Balin Joins Jefferson Starship Onstageby Best Classic Bands Staff
In the very beginning, Jefferson Airplane was Marty Balin’s band. “It was his dream, his plan, his band and he made it happen,” explains band’s Best Classic Bands Editor Jeff Tamarkin, author of Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. And for a number of years through the late 1960s Balin reveled in what he created amidst the deep bench of talent the band possessed: Singer and songwriter Grace Slick, singer and songwriter Paul Kantner, guitar genius Jorma Kaukonen and bassist extraordinaire Jack Casady.
By the end of the decade, Balin was no longer enjoying his band and left in 1971. It was the effects of “Janis [Joplin]’s death . That struck me,” he explains. “It was dark times. Everybody was doing so much drugs and I couldn’t even talk to the band. We couldn’t rehearse, everything was a yelling match. Whoever could yell the loudest got their way. I just got bored with that and said, ‘Here, have fun, goodbye. I’ll watch you die for a while.'”
A few years later Kantner wrote Balin a letter saying, “I’m really sorry it got shitty four years ago. I really like singing with you. I’ve got some nice changes if you’d like to write a song together.”
They did so – a lovely ballad called “Caroline.” It wound up on the 1974 album Dragon Fly by Kantner and Grace Slick’s new post-Airplane band Jefferson Starship, with Balin singing it as a guest. When the Starship played their final 1974 tour date on this day at Winterland in San Francisco, Balin joined them onstage to sing the song.
By January 1975, he was in the group with his old bandmates. He wrote a song called “Miracles” that became a #3 pop hit and helped propel the band’s album Red Octopus to #1 on the Top 200 and multi-million sales, bringing the greatest career success ever to the former members of the Jefferson Airplane during the rest of the decade.