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Marty Balin, founder of Jefferson Airplane, dies aged 76

Marty Balin has died at the age of 76 (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Marty Balin has died at the age of 76 (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Singer Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane has died at the age of 76.

Balin, a patron of the 1960s San Francisco Sound, both as founder and lead singer of Jefferson Airplane and co-owner of the club where the group and other Bay Area bands performed, died on Thursday in Tampa, Florida, on the way to the hospital, spokesman Ryan Romenesko said.

The cause of death was not immediately available.

The dark-eyed, baby-faced Balin was an ex-folk musician who formed Jefferson Airplane in 1965 and within two years was at the heart of a nationwide wave that briefly rivalled the Beatles’ influence and even helped inspire the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album.

Jefferson Airplane was the breakout act among such San Francisco-based artists as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, many of whom played early shows at the Matrix, a ballroom Balin helped run and for which Jefferson Airplane served as house band.