The STARSHIP … A Boeing 720, bought by Bobby Sherman in the early 70’s
This plane plied the skies in the service of amongst others: Led Zeppelin,The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Deep Purple, The Allman Brothers, The Bee Gee’s and Peter Frampton.
One of the great artifacts of the coke-flecked, halter- topped ‘lude dropping’ rock and roll gestalt of the 70’s, the Starship brimmed with gaudy-chic delights. A bedroom with a king sized water bed, a fake fire place, a brass bar with a built in electric organ.
At the airport, the entrouge often hid drugs in their soiled clothes
Below, on the LAX tarmac, a photo shoot with the KiKi Dee band.
Elton graduated from vans and stationwagons and cookie cutter motels and voila… the song Holiday Inn in 1971, Madman Across the Water. In the spring of 72′ the band moved up to a Greyhound Bus, ploughing from one college campus to another.
During fall… Elton upgraded to the Starship. He hired pilots, 3 stewardesses and a bartender. The pilots and the entire crew were very professional. The flight’s crew had to be on the ball one evening when a near miss on a landing took place.
A sudden upward thrust like a rocketship take off jolted everyone on board. The pilots were avoiding another aircraft on the run way.
The video collection on board the Starship is stocked with everything from Deep Throat to Duck Soup. Stewardesses cater to your every need. This plane was the inspiration for Austin Powers’ shag- a-delic private 747 airplane.
“A flying gin palace” is how Zep’s road manager, Richard Cole, characterized the ship. David Libert, Alice Cooper’s road manager, declared it “a rock and roll Air Force One.”
Mick Jagger was said to have gasped the first time he climbed aboard and glimpsed the wall- to- wall Vegas.
The four- engine variant of the Boeing 707 was renovated at a cost of $200,000. It leased for $2,500 per flight hour.”It was a potent symbol of where you were in your career” said Peter Frampton. His team leased it during his climb to white hot super stardom. This is the plane Peter used on the Frampton Comes Alive Tour.
“Whoopee! We must be big-we’ve got the Starship”
Led Zeppelin was first to lease the plane, in 1973, after a white- knuckle ride from Oakland to Los Angeles in a tiny Falcon 20 business jet.
Zeppelin became indelibly associated with the Starship when the band posed with the plane in Bob Gruen’s iconic 1973 portrait. Bob explains,” this sums up the excess and decadence of the 70’s, the fact that here are these guys-they don’t even have buttons on their shirts- and they have their own plane!”
The Alice Cooper band leased it for the Billion Dollar Babies Tour in 1973. The United States was in the midst of a crippling petrol shortage, manager Shep Gordon had an idea. Rather than bribe service stations to fill up the tour trucks, lets lease the Starship.
It’s four gas- guzzling Pratt and Whitney engines flew on and above all the gasoline vehicle lines at gas stations below. It was perfect for Alice’s image at the time.
What was it like aboard the Starship…
The first time the Allman Brothers they were greeted by “Welcome the Allman Brothers” rendered in lines of cocaine on the brass bar.
Led Zeppelin’s fearsome manager Peter Grant was know to disappear in the back bedroom, often for the entire flight… and he’s not sleeping.
A drunken John Bonham allegedly tried to open a hatch door at 30,000 feet to urinate over Kansas City.
“It was pretty much a party plane”, says Frampton.”we’d drive right on the runway, just a long stream of black limos, jump out and get on.”
Peter continues, “To foil custom inspectors and their drug sniffing dogs, the band members stashed their contraband in the “dirty stage- clothes bags.”
Despite the heedless indulgences-an Atlantic Records executive remembers Peter Grant brandishing a hand gun on a flight to Pittsburgh while the entourage hovered in a cocaine pile.
The Starship came to symbolize the isolation rock stars of the seventies embraced as they saw less and less of everday life.
After a concert in Minneapolis, Danny Markus, at Atlantic Records executive, marveled. As quick as the show ended, the band was whisked aboard the Starship.
“I’m being served Lobster Thermador as we are rolling down the runway, while the audience is still in the buiding waiting for the encore!”
A member of the Allman Brothers walked out of his hotel in a bathrobe and boarded both the limo and the plane with out changing.
No one wanted to appear Starstruck , as they boarded the plane. Everyone assumed the posture…”This is how I go to work!’
Same Bed… Plant above, Blackmore below…
Written by Donnie Norden…read theGlamourtram also on W.P
Reference: Billboard Magazine…
MGM wasn’t the only party going on in the 70’s, the skies were friendly too…