Home > Diary, Thoughts > Now We Are Three

Now We Are Three

September 29th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments
Window in time...

Window in time...

Thanks to Bob Sarles for these fotos…

Now We Are Three
Requiem For A Friend
Marty Balin
30 Jan. 1942/27 Sept. 2018

Life is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed
It’s all the things you’ve left unsaid
Life is a thin thread

It’s a fine line between loving and not
Between holding it back or giving all that you’ve got
Feeling you’re free, thinking you’re caught
It’s a fine line

(Thin Thread by Connie Kaldor)

I was more than saddened yesterday to hear of Marty Balin’s passing. Jack and I were in Northampton, Mass. at the Academy Of Music and we were just getting ready to do our sound check. 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.

Marty and I were young together in a time that defined our lives. Had it not been for him, my life would have taken an alternate path I cannot imagine. He and Paul Kantner came together and like plutonium halves in a reactor started a chain reaction that still affects many of us today. It was a moment of powerful synchronicity. I was part of it to be sure, but I was not a prime mover. Marty always reached for the stars and he took us along with him.

I always felt that he was somewhat guarded… the quiet one. Perhaps that’s because I was one of the noisy ones… I don’t know. It’s probably not for me to say. His commitment to his visions never flagged. He was always relentless in the pursuit of his goals. He wrapped those he loved in sheltering arms. He loved his family. Times come and go but his passion for his music and his art was never diminished. He was the most consummate of artists in a most renaissance way. I always felt that he perceived that each day was a blank canvas waiting to be filled.

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 NYC the year we celebrated Jack’s 70th birthday.

Very good stuff!

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…

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:
  1. Maureen R
    September 29th, 2018 at 07:57 | #1

    Well said and thank you. Came to this site and knew you would contribute a nice eulogy.

  2. Tim from Philly
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:01 | #2

    RIP Marty.

  3. Cyndy
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:13 | #3

    Dear Jorma,
    A tremendous loss…
    My Airplane family is hurting
    You are all in my prayers
    I love you

  4. Rick Quinn
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:17 | #4

    We are all 20 yrs old in our soul. We are all grateful that that reaction occurred. I am grateful that I heard that song bird voice. Thanks

  5. Bake
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:27 | #5

    As much as I try to live in the moment, I still look too far ahead. I am sorry for your loss. It is a loss we all are affected, and even united by. I am at an age where i am beginning to experience loss of friends and family far too often, and it isn’t easy. None of it. But, feelings shared make the difference, and I thank you for sharing yours. Time flies by, and yet these are the reminders I need to understand how important “the moment” is.
    An old Indian saying, When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die the world cries and you rejoice. This certainly describes your good friend! After hearing of Marty’s passing, I was looking forward to your entry, thanks again for putting pen to paper. Hoping your next moment is a good one!

  6. Richard
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:47 | #6

    So sorry to hear of Marty passing. I was lucky to have seen him at the Beacon show. He was so great. He seemed to really enjoy performing for us. My prayers are with him and his family. May he Rest In Peace..

  7. mikie
    September 29th, 2018 at 08:47 | #7

    Jorma, that was a beautiful tribute. I was so blessed to see you three- Marty, Jorma, Jack – all on stage at the Station for a fantastic night of music. Marty brought a whole wagon load that night, and an unbelievable band! His was and remains one of the finest voices in rock music. We are truly blessed by what he left us.
    I hope your heart finds peace in his passing. m

  8. Phil Zisook
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:00 | #8

    Beautiful words Jorma. In the early Airplane days, Marty’s songs had particularly unique qualities, some had a supercharged energy and urgency (3/5’s/Funny Cars) and at the same time, others, like “Today”/”Comin’ Back”, a quiet introspection and artfulness that were not the stuff usually heard from rock, much less psychedelic bands. And a voice that was like no other; it could be sweet and beautiful or defiantly in your face. One of the truly special things about the Airplane ’89 shows was experiencing years later the way he and Grace commanded the stage when they sung together; it was amazing and remains fresh in my mind. A sad day.

  9. Jim Barr
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:00 | #9

    Beautiful words and so very true, collectively you left an indelible mark on my my appreciation of music, since first encountering 30 Seconds over Winterland in my teens.

  10. Joey
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:03 | #10

    A life well lived, a sad day.
    Heavenly band. His friends are waiting for him.
    Carry on Jorma & Jack.
    He would like that, I’m sure. ❤

  11. bruce kelso
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:03 | #11

    this hit me hard. when marty left the airplane most of me did to. it wasnt the same. now marty is with paul signe skippy spencer and joey.im gonna cry all day. very nice words from jorma. peace ,bruce

  12. John R.
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:15 | #12

    Thank you, Jorma, for putting into such beautiful words some of the things that many of us are feeling right now.

  13. Rick from Vermont
    September 29th, 2018 at 09:58 | #13

    May his memory be a blessing for us all

  14. carey georgas
    September 29th, 2018 at 10:17 | #14

    Sorrow offers two paths to follow. One is despair, the other hope. Giving pause to reaffirm the importance of the present moment in a time of loss is to choose the path of hope. What better memorial to the departed? RIP, Mr. Balin.

  15. Larry
    September 29th, 2018 at 10:19 | #15

    Beautiful words, Jorma. With all due respect to anyone’s individual songwriting contributions, I always thought that the best Airplane (and JS) songs were those written together by Marty and Paul (Come Up the Years, Today, Young Girl Sunday Blues, House at Pooneil Corners, Volunteers, Caroline, There Will Be Love, St. Charles, and America). They had sort of a Lennon/McCartney thing going. His voice was among the most distinctive of his peers and like Grace’s vocals, your guitar, and Jack’s bass, it was part of JA’s defining sound. Glad I got to see the 3 of you together at the Beacon a few years back. Think I’ll listen to Bless Its Pointed Little Head and the Woodstock set today in tribute. Peace to all.

  16. johno
    September 29th, 2018 at 10:21 | #16

    So glad I saw him at the Beacon. He was having a great time – he gave it his all. Great version of “Volunteers”. RIP Marty.

  17. September 29th, 2018 at 10:22 | #17

    Marty changed your life, as you all collectively (and individually) changed so many of ours…and really, truly enriched our American culture and helped define an era, cleared a path, pointed a way. Those intense records, that sound, the look and style, the implications of an alternate choice apart from what television was telling us to believe — was so significant to this kid in Queens, NY trying to learn the guitar in 1967. It was a very big deal to so many people whose lives you all touched. If not for Marty’s band, I for one would never have fortuitously encountered Ian Buchanan for guitar lessons in 1978, which was a tremendous branch of personal growth. For me it circles back to Surrealistic Pillow. I would figure you’d get tired of hearing such flowery fan tributes after awhile, but if you’re going to comment on things left unsaid, well I’ve said my piece yet again. So thanks.

  18. Jim
    September 29th, 2018 at 10:27 | #18

    Sad. He had a beautiful voice. St Charles was always a favorite song of mine from High School and still enjoy it on a regular basis.

    We are glad that YOU are still around Jorma. #1 for your music and #2 because you are a good person who feels and cares enough to write something like this. We need as many people like that on the planet at one time as we can get.

  19. September 29th, 2018 at 11:02 | #19

    Dear Jorma,

    I share in your sorrow of Marty Balin’s passing. His unique voice and songwriting talent are forever etched in the music of our heart.

    I have come to value your voice as a writer and a fellow music blogger. Having just listened to your book in my recent road journeys I take comfort in the friendship you have with Marty.

    He goes to prepare a place for us as you so eloquently stated on the River of Time.

    God Bless Marty and his family
    and God Bless you Three

  20. John B
    September 29th, 2018 at 11:39 | #20

    Beautifully written Jorma.

  21. Ken
    September 29th, 2018 at 12:08 | #21

    I have been watching for your post since I heard of Marty’s passing.

    You have a wonderful gift for expressing your feelings, especially where friends or loved ones are concerned. Sharing your thoughts so generously with us here makes it hard for me to believe that you have left many things unsaid.

    Being one of the guarded ones myself, I would like to take the opportunity to say that you, Jack, Grace and all the extraordinary people you walked through that time with have indeed made a difference to me.

  22. Louis
    September 29th, 2018 at 12:32 | #22

    Thank you, Jorma. It is sad to hear the news of Marty’s passing. Airplane’s music was a big part of my life.

    RIP Marty

  23. Brian Doyle
    September 29th, 2018 at 12:34 | #23

    Let’s gather together on the bank and give Marty a gentle goodbye on a raft of flowers as he drifts down the river…When all the noise filters out his life stands as a memory as beautiful as the psychedelic age he helped create…

  24. MC Malthus
    September 29th, 2018 at 13:14 | #24

    Great post, Jorma. RIP, Marty. Sadly, I only saw Marty once. It was in the late 90’s when he rejoined Kantner’s ongoing incarnation of the JS. He was phenomenal and I was able to get his autograph. Sadly, he rarely came to Denver. I don’t recall him coming for the “Hearts” tour, for instance. So, I feel very lucky to have seen him. I know he’s now jamming with Jimi, Janis, Jerry, Pigpen, “Skippy” Spence, Spencer Dryden, Papa John Creach, Joe E. Covington, John Cipollina, Nicky Hopkins, Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, Bob “The Bear” Hite, Henry “The Snake” Vestine, Mama Cass, Timmy Hardin, Papa John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Phil Oches, Levon Helm, Richie Havens, James Gurley, Sam Andrew, Dino Valente, Bloomfield and Butterfield. What a band!!! What a lineup!!! When I get to the other side, I hope I can catch one of those shows. “He’s a high flyin’ bird, way up in the sky, yeah!!!”

  25. Robert D. Cocke
    September 29th, 2018 at 13:24 | #25

    Jorma—- Thank you for your touching and beautiful tribute. I was 19 years old in 1969 and the Jefferson Airplane were such a HUGE part of that time for me. I still listen to the music regularly. Marty’s voice and his songs, like “Today” truly touched my heart in a way that is rare. He was a real poet, among other things. Thank you Jorma, and thanks to all your bandmates, for the incredible MUSIC.

  26. Petri
    September 29th, 2018 at 13:36 | #26

    RIP Marty. Wonderful words Jorma. The music you made together has always moved me, today to tears. But it’s a joy that lives on. Thank you.

  27. George Kerby
    September 29th, 2018 at 13:43 | #27

    My condolences to you, Jack, Grace, and of course Marty’s family. Thank you for these heartfelt words. The news hit me particularly hard as I am halfway through reading your book which is an amazing story. The Airplane were an amazing collective with so much talent converging to rise to a level never seen before. But above it all, Marty’s voice soared.

  28. Valerie
    September 29th, 2018 at 14:22 | #28

    When Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson died on January 28, 2016, Marty imagined they woke up in Heaven together, looked at each other, and said, “Hey, wanna start a band?” Now Marty is harmonizing with them. Rest in peace, love, and music.

    Thanks for the beautiful remembrance, Jorma. It’s too sad and too soon for you, Jack, and Grace to be the only ones left.

  29. Michael Paradise
    September 29th, 2018 at 14:35 | #29

    The Rabbis say that life never dies. The death of life is an oxymoron and an impossibility. Marty still lives; only his existence has terminated. His life is infused in those who who have absorbed his sweet sounds, his persona and the history he has indelibly left us. May all who have any connection to Marty and his brethren and sisterhood that have departed for the upper world. Stand solemnly in God’s garden and carry the torch of life that he has passed to us, to share with all and leave each day, brighter than the day before.

  30. mikie
    September 29th, 2018 at 14:39 | #30


    If this Interview on the Vicki Lawrence show doesn’t make you grin, what will? m

  31. Rick R
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:00 | #31

    Thank you Jorma. Beautiful tribute to Marty.

  32. Rich L
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:16 | #32

    i never heard that saying – perfect….

  33. Tom
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:23 | #33

    Was at your show in Noho last night and was as shocked as everyone else to hear the sad news. You made a lovely tribute to Marty in your music, and at the same time, this was one of my favorite shows you and Jack have done in my recent memory. I believe Marty’s passing certainly was a factor, but it just seemed like all the music came so easily and beautifully. After all these decades of seeing you guys perform, this was the first time that it felt like those traditionals were written by you…..like you weren’t performing someone else’s tunes but your own (aside from your own of course). In any case, thank you for your gift to us, and for sharing your lovely thoughts of Marty. Love you guys!

  34. Nick Ritrovato
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:46 | #34

    An incalculable loss. My condolences to you and Jack Casady.

  35. Zebra
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:46 | #35

    He was truly one of my all time favorite singers.I would hear his voice in my head even when it’s not playing.”OH GOOD MEMORIES FEED MY HEAD” Rest in peace Love Zebra

  36. Mitch
    September 29th, 2018 at 15:59 | #36

    I was fortunate enough to be at that show celebrating Jack’s birthday and seeing the boys reunited with Marty. It was a great show!

  37. September 29th, 2018 at 16:35 | #37

    Hello Jorma
    We met briefly through Byron House when you came down to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum when I worked down there. Someone sent me a link to your post on Marty Balins’ passing and it moved me. I woke up today and listened to The Worst of Jefferson Airplane from front to back. I know it’s not one of the “albums” but it was the first one I had at 15 and is still a great listen and artfully produced compilation. That collective you all had was a special one and it still works it’s magic. Sorry you lost your friend and bandmate but, while there’s still time, thank you for all the music.

  38. September 29th, 2018 at 16:55 | #38

    Sorry for your loss, Jorma. Hi

  39. Keith
    September 29th, 2018 at 16:57 | #39

    Jorma such nice words for your friend. I feel like you all made such magic that helped us make it thru so many years. Good times bad times you all where there for us, thru the magical music. Thanks

  40. carl jansen
    September 29th, 2018 at 18:40 | #40

    was with you guys from the beginning.so many of us with heavy hearts.again.be strong be safe be smart.PEACE TO YOU ALL

  41. Ham Neggs
    September 29th, 2018 at 18:46 | #41

    To Mr Balin’s wife , family, friends,fans, Mr Kaukonen, Mr Casady , Ms.Slick,
    Good Grief
    I was fortunate to see Marty many times over the years. May you all find peace and joy in your good memories.
    Go ride the music
    Love All Ways

  42. mikie
    September 29th, 2018 at 19:09 | #42


    Marty at the Fur Peace Station and the Silo. m

  43. mark k
    September 29th, 2018 at 19:55 | #43

    I have a good memory to share about Marty. It was the early 2000’s and I found myself on the couch with Marty in the dressing room just before a Jefferson Starship show. Someone brought up the subject of Altamont and how he was knocked out by Hells Angels. Knowing I was a Hot Tuna fan he turned to me and with genuine affection in his voice he stated ” Where has Jorma with all his Guns and Knives when I needed him”. In all that in all our interactions he was a Gentleman and in my estimation a great talent. I know where all getting older and loss goes with the territory but he will be missed at least by me.

  44. Debby Hanoka
    September 29th, 2018 at 20:39 | #44

    Beautifully said, Jorma. Thank you.

  45. Robert O Kelley
    September 29th, 2018 at 21:38 | #45

    Beautifully spoken, Jorma. Simply beautiful.

  46. September 29th, 2018 at 22:18 | #46

    Seeing Marty was always a joy,seeing him at Fur Pesce and than at the Beacon,the spirit ,voice and enthusiasm was indiniminished.3/5 the at Woodstock was memorable ,many other airplane and a few starship shows.
    The sentiment and your expression of appreciation for knowing the man ,rival great prose.
    A great story of friendship
    Keep on

  47. Don Gehre
    September 29th, 2018 at 22:46 | #47

    A great voice and presence has passed . The SF scene has lost one of its guiding lights and many people are lessened by Marty’s passing. May he find peace in the Light.

  48. richu
    September 29th, 2018 at 23:59 | #48

    Thinking of you jorma Thanks for embry journey.

  49. Sally
    September 30th, 2018 at 00:09 | #49

    Thanks Jorma; your words are always full of solace.

  50. Bill Picha
    September 30th, 2018 at 03:04 | #50

    That hollow feeling from January, 2016 when NPR announced that Paul Kantner had passed and, later that day, the news spreading that Signe Anderson had also left has returned this weekend like a gut punch to the psyche. One can only imagine what family & friends are feeling when, as a ‘fan,’ it hurts to think there will be no more new music, no more interviews on latest art works, no possibility of a tour stop.
    Thank you, Jorma, Jack and Grace for the many musical gifts you created with your comrades Creach, Spence, Dreyden, Covington, Kantner, Anderson & Balin.

Comment pages
1 2 3 7426