A vague recollection (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that during the Jefferson Airplane heyday of the mid to late ’60s, Grace Slick was the headliner — magnetic, contrarian sexy, tough-talking, decent pipes. But Marty Balin‘s voice was the band’s greatest instrument. Rivers of feeling, conviction, white-guy soul…that half-wailing, half-pouring-his-heart-out thing. “My Best Friend” and “Today” were prime examples. They fit Balin’s voice like a glove and vice versa. Why is it, then, that when I heard about Balin’s death my first two recollections weren’t about his singing? One, the fact that Balin was knocked out cold by one or two of the Hell’s Angels “security” guys during the disastrous Altamont concert of August ’69. And two, the animosity between between Balin and Slick (even though they re-teamed for Jefferson Starship from the early to late ’70s) was apparently fairly toxic from time to time, hence that infamous Balin quote. I don’t know what killed the poor guy, but rest in peace and safe travels.