“LAST OF THE TRUE ARTISIANS”
Marty was born a gifted child, his father (Joe “Buck” Buchwald) could sense it and was pivotal in Marty becoming a singer, first as a solo with Challenge records and then the first band, The Town Criers. The advent of “psychedelia” would see an imminent change in Marty’s musical direction and that would lead to the opening of The Matrix and the founding of Jefferson Airplane. Through the years, if Marty was booked in Germany one day and India the next, “Buck” would always be there. There isn’t a great love than that of Marty and his father. When I lived in the bay, “Buck” would call and ask if I was going to a noted party and if so, could I give him a ride. Buck was a very unheralded “mover & shaker” of The Golden Age but you had to be there to appreciate him, much like the adoration for Marty since those embryonic days and 2400 Fulton Street. His birthday looms on the horizon (January 30th) but chronological factors are a moot point when speaking of “The Golden Age” and those who defined it. Jefferson Airplane soared to the apex of popularity amidst the “Big Five” of psychedelia, inclusive of The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Charlatans & Big Brother & The Holding Company. The band became the first to sign a contract with a major label of the era and symbolized the grandeur and ideology of the Counter Culture. Tandem voices of Grace Slick and Marty Balin were prominent in the reference of “The San Francisco Sound” and augmented with the brilliance of Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady & Spencer Dryden. During my fifty years of images and narratives, there are a few who can capture an audience by merely making an appearance and augment that with a voice that continues to resonate, his songs will always permeate the air not only in Haight Ashbury but in every country where his treasured lyrics have been played for five decades. Many times while strolling along in various cities, I seem to mentally peruse the artistic tunes that make my heart smile, i.e., “Hearts”, “Volunteers of America”, “Today” and of course “Miracles”. His legacy continues, still practicing, always prepared to mesmerize the burgeoning hordes of fans that have followed him through the years. The few peers have always been Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), James Taylor & Freddie Mercury but merely my perspective. Through the ages Marty has captured the souls of those who have been a constant whether it be Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship or solo tours. A catalyst of psychedelia, the charm and charisma of Monsieur Balin would see him as a survivor of the decadence and debauchery of the era as he continued to release songs that would melt the hearts of those who appreciate the voice that captured an entire generation so long ago. Later in life Marty would find the proverbial “soulmate”, his wife Susan. A stunning, thoughtful soul who exudes the elegance that all search for and rarely find. It is because of the “family” existence that Marty continues to smile and justifiably so. The acolytes of yesterday await the return of the velvet voice crooner, a Hall Of Fame singer whose songs mesmerize even the more adroit fans who clap their hands and stomp their feet.
A birthday awaits, an anniversary of one of the great souls, not only in reference to the music genre but to society in general. He was instrumental in the songs that were the tapestry of an entire culture and his presence will continue to echo as long as we continue to roam this planet. it is indeed, “The road less traveled”....................Happy Birthday Marty, you are not forgotten nor will that ever transpire as long as there is but
one left to share the ambience that permeated San Francisco and Golden Gate Park,
“the avatars of your musical brilliance”. ....Love from horse country..........
“LAST OF THE TRUE ARTISIANS”