In the 1970s, the members of Led Zeppelin — Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Jimmy Page — began renting an almost comically lavish airplane. The jet, known as The Starship, came at a high price point. Still, he said that some of his fondest memories happened onboard. He shared one that he can laugh about now but was likely terrifying at the time.
Led Zeppelin rented a pricy private airplane
In 1973, Led Zeppelin became the first band to rent The Starship, a former United Airlines Boeing 720 refurbished by Bobby Sherman. The plane had a bedroom with a water bed, a fake fireplace, a bar, and an electric organ. Per Billboard, the aircraft was available to rent for $2,500 an hour, and Led Zeppelin used it to buoy their public image.
A photo of them posing with the plane “sums up the excess and decadence of the ’70s, the fact that here are these guys — they don’t even have to button their shirts — and they have their own plane.”
Robert Plant shared 1 of his memories of Led Zeppelin from the plane
According to Plant, the planes the band rented were often on their “last legs.” This added an edge of terror to many of their flights. On The Starship, though, the band was terrorized by a mistake made by the grounds crew.
“I remember one time we got on the plane and took off from Dallas to New Orleans,” Plant told Vulture in 2022. “John Bonham was in that period of time where he wore a fedora and a black cane with a silver top. We got up to about 8,000 feet or whatever it was — pretty low.”
Bonham went to the bathroom, where he was met with an unpleasant surprise.
“He finds it’s time to quickly visit the bathroom,” Plant said. “And as he opened the door, his hat blew off and was sucked down the toilet. There was this great sort of whoosh. The guys that were back down on the airstrip had forgotten to rescrew the chute where the toilets were emptied, so there was a tank underneath the bathroom and they forgot to put the cap back on. There was absolutely no pressure.”
The band began to panic when they realized they couldn’t fly any higher. Still, they continued their trip.
“So John had lost his hat, but then we all lost our minds because we realized that we couldn’t go any higher because our ears were starting to go. [Laughs],” he said. “We flew from Dallas to New Orleans at 8,000 feet.”
Robert Plant said many of his Led Zeppelin memories are ‘absolutely hysterical’
Plant said that the moment on the airplane exemplified much of the time he spent with the band.
“See, this is the trouble. There are so many movies and so many things I know that are absolutely hysterical,” he said. “I mean, never mind the mystery. We can do without the mystery and just talk about the crazy things that happened.”
He can look back fondly on it, given that they touched down safely in New Orleans.
“All’s well that ends well,” he said. “It was just another night in paradise.”
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