Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin Suing Hospital

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Marty Balin

When Marty Balin, the male lead vocalist of ’60s San Francisco band Jefferson Airplane, entered a New York City hospital for heart surgery two years ago, the last thing he expected was to lose part of his tongue and thumb. Now, according to an article in the New York Daily News, Balin has filed a lawsuit against the city’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital, seeking unspecified damages.

Balin claims in the lawsuit that the botched surgery has left him unable to sing.

According to the article, by Stephen Rex Brown, on March 11, 2016, Balin, while in New York to perform a gig at the Cutting Room, experienced heart problems that required a triple bypass and valve replacement.

Jefferson Airplane (Marty Balin, top right)

The singer, now 76, claims in his suit that, “The personnel in charge knew that the hospital was inadequately staffed, particularly in the recovery unit where Mr. Balin was sent after undergoing open heart surgery.” Following the surgery, it states, Balin was forced to undergo a tracheotomy “that resulted in his tongue and vocal cords being damaged… Tissue on his left thumb died, requiring it be amputated.”

Related: Jefferson Airplane members recall the Woodstock festival

Further, the lawsuit states, according to the article, “Mr. Balin walked into the hospital able to speak and with fully functional left hand. By the time Mr. Balin was finally released from the hospital, he had lost half his tongue so that he cannot speak or eat properly; he also has a paralyzed vocal cord; he has a necrotic left hand and has lost his left thumb; he had become totally disabled and has never recovered properly.”

Balin was the lead voice on many of Jefferson Airplane’s best known songs, often singing in tandem with Grace Slick, who is retired from music. Balin left the band in 1970 but then rejoined former bandmates Slick and Paul Kantner (who died in 2016) in an offshoot group, Jefferson Starship. Since leaving that band in the late ’70s, Balin has continued to perform and record on occasion as a solo artist.

Watch Marty Balin join with former Airplane mates Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady to sing “Volunteers” in 2014


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  1. Bianca
    #1 Bianca 19 August, 2018, 00:12

    Que triste y trágica noticia.What a sad news. Marti Balin is one of greatest singers of all time. God bless him.

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