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Local musician Karen Deal, wife of Jefferson Airplane singer, dies

TAMPA — Local musician Karen Deal, a Tampa resident who married Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin, died Friday. She was 56.

Deal's band, Mod Squad, played in the area for years — most recently at Skipper's Smokehouse for the venue's 30th anniversary celebration in September, said her father, former WFLA newscaster Arch Deal.

Deal said his daughter played keyboard and bass. She didn't sing much, but her father said he thought she had perfect pitch.

"Music was her life," Mr. Deal said. "Music was everything to her."

A graduate of Tampa Catholic, Karen Deal met Balin when Mod Squad opened for Jefferson Airplane. They married and moved to Balin's San Francisco home but returned to Tampa often, Mr. Deal said.

She died Friday after choking on a piece of food during a family dinner a month ago. Mr. Deal said he tried the Heimlich maneuver until paramedics took his daughter to St. Joseph's Hospital, but she remained in a coma until her death. Doctors told Mr. Deal she'd been without oxygen that night for 15 minutes.

Karen Deal is survived by Balin; their daughter, Delaney; her father and mother; two sisters, Diane and Shari; a brother, Doug; and a half sister, Michelle.

Her memorial service will take place Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Blount & Curry Funeral Home, Carrollwood Chapel, 3207 W Bearss Ave.

Local musician Karen Deal, wife of Jefferson Airplane singer, dies 11/20/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2010 12:21pm]
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