The Starship

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The Starship
Allman Brothers Band Boeing 720-022 N7201U.jpg
The Starship being used by the Allman Brothers Band for their tour in 1974
Role private passenger transport
Manufacturer Boeing
Status dismantled
Primary user Led Zeppelin
Number built 1
Developed from Boeing 720
Registration N7201U[1]
Fate dismantled for parts[1]

The Starship was a former United Airlines Boeing 720 passenger jet, bought by Bobby Sherman and his manager, Ward Sylvester, and leased to touring musical artists in the mid-1970s.


The Starship, N7201U (S/N: 17907), was the first Boeing 720 built. It was delivered to United Airlines on October 1960 and then purchased in 1973 by Contemporary Entertainment.[1]

English rock band Led Zeppelin used the aircraft for their 1973 and 1975 North American concert tours. During the 1972 tour and in the early part of the 1973 tour the band had hired a small private Falcon Jet to transport its members from city to city, but these aircraft are comparatively light and susceptible to turbulence.[2] After performing a show at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco in 1973, Led Zeppelin encountered bad turbulence on a flight back to Los Angeles. As a result, the band's manager Peter Grant resolved to hire The Starship for the remainder of the tour, at a cost of $30,000.[2]

The aircraft was the same type as used by commercial airlines, but its owners allowed it to be specifically modified to suit the whim of their clients. Sherman and Sylvester invested $200,000 to reduce its seating capacity to forty and to install into the main cabin a bar, seats and tables, revolving arm chairs, a 30-foot-long (9.1 m) couch (running along the right side of the plane, opposite the bar), a television set and a video cassette player, complete with a well-stocked video library. An electronic organ was built into the bar, and at the rear of the craft were two back rooms, one with a low couch and pillows on the floor, and the other, a bedroom, complete with a white fur bedspread and shower room.[2] The exterior of the plane was re-sprayed with Led Zeppelin emblazoned down the side of the fuselage.

Flying on The Starship, Led Zeppelin were no longer required to change hotels so often. They could base themselves in large cities such as Chicago, New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles and travel to and from concerts within flying distance.[2] After each show, the band members would be transported direct by limousine from the concert venue to the airport, as depicted in the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same.

The Starship was used throughout Led Zeppelin's 1975 US concert tour, this time featuring a different red-and-blue paint scheme with white stars similar to the United States flag, and with a smaller "Led Zeppelin" logo on the fuselage. According to Peter Grant, at one point during this tour Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham sat in the co-pilot's seat and assisted in flying the plane all the way from New York to Los Angeles.[2][1]

The Starship is included at the end of "Stairway to Heaven" on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD with both its 1973 and 1975 paint schemes.

English rock band Deep Purple hired The Starship for their 1974 U.S. tours. They can be seen arriving in the jet with the band's name emblazoned on the jet in the DVD for the infamous California Jam rock festival, entitled Live in California 74. In an interview with Circus magazine in 1974, Deep Purple's Jon Lord explained: "It's a 707 put together by a firm in L.A. that Sinatra, Dylan and The Band just used and Elton John uses. It has a lounge, a bedroom, a shower and a study. It's supposed to look as little as a plane as possible."

The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band and Alice Cooper were Starship clients. Peter Frampton was the last to charter The Starship, in 1976. As early as Alice Cooper's 1974 tour the aircraft was beginning to show signs of engine difficulties and by the time of Led Zeppelin's 1977 US Tour it was permanently grounded at Long Beach Airport.[2] The band was forced to find a comparable alternative, and tour manager Richard Cole eventually chartered Caesar's Chariot, a 45-seat Boeing 707 owned by the Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. When the Allman Brothers chartered the plane, they found "Welcome Allman Brothers" written on the plane's bar in lines of cocaine once they boarded.

The Starship went through several ownership changes from 1977 through 1979 until it went into storage at Luton Airport. It was dismantled for parts starting in July 1982.[1]


Band Dates Used Tour
Led Zeppelin June - July 1973 Led Zeppelin North American Tour 1973
Elton John August - October 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour
Alice Cooper December 1973 Billion Dollar Babies Holliday Tour
Bob Dylan And The Band January - February 1974 Bob Dylan and the Band 1974 Tour
Deep Purple March - April 1974 Burn Tour
The Allman Brothers Band June - August 1974 1974 Tour
Elton John September - December 1974 Elton John Band Tour 1974
Deep Purple December 1974 Stormbringer Tour
Led Zeppelin January - March 1975 Led Zeppelin North American Tour 1975
The Rolling Stones June - August 1975 Tour of the Americas '75
Elton John September - October 1975 West Of The Rockies Tour
The Allman Brothers Band November - December 1975 Win, Lose or Draw Tour
The Who March 1976 The Who Tour 1976
Paul McCartney & Wings May - June 1976 Wings Over America
Elton John June - August 1976 Louder Than Concorde Tour
Peter Frampton September - October 1976 Frampton Comes Alive! Tour

Other users include, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, and Olivia Newton-John.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Starship" at Led
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p.92

External links[edit]