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Music / Starship

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Starship, circa 1987. From left to right: Grace Slick, Donny Baldwin, Mickey Thomas and Craig Chaquico.
"We built this city!
We built this city on rock and roll!
Built this city!
We built this city on rock and rooo-oolllll!"
—"We Built This City"

Starship is an American pop-rock band formed in 1984. It is the Spiritual Successor to Jefferson Starship, which itself is a Spiritual Successor to Jefferson Airplane. Starship was formed directly after the dissolution of Jefferson Starship, caused by the departure of Paul Kantner and subsequent legal action for the remaining members to change the name to just "Starship".

This band released three somewhat synth-heavy albums in the mid to late 1980s and had three number one singles with "We Built This City", "Sara" and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", the latter of which was famously used in the film Mannequin. Though generally critically reviled, they were quite successful commercially nonetheless. However, this band turned out to have less staying power than its two predecessors. David Freiberg left during the making of their first album (Knee Deep In The Hoopla, 1985), Pete Sears, after realising what the hell he was doing there (literally) left in 1987, and Grace Slick left the following year. With Mickey Thomas as the sole lead singer, they gradually disintegrated until they broke up in 1990. Notably in 1989, Donny Baldwin was sacked after assaulting Thomas to the point where Thomas had to have facial reconstruction surgery and plates implanted into his skull.


However, around the same time Paul Kantner reformed Jefferson Starship, Mickey Thomas chose to reform Starship. Briefly known as Mickey Thomas's Starship, they quickly settled on Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, a clear indication of Thomas being the band. With a revolving-door line-up, Starship continues to tour today. Guitarist Mark Abrahamian tragically died of a heart attack after a concert in 2012, and Starship released their first album in over 20 years with Loveless Fascination the following year, to extremely positive reviews.


Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Mark Abrahamian - guitar (2000-2012, died 2012)
  • Jeff Adams - bass, vocals (2000-Present)
  • Donny Baldwin - drums, vocals (1984-1989)
  • Phil Bennett - keyboard, vocals (1995-Present)
  • Brett Bloomfield - bass, vocals (1988-1990, 1993-1996)
  • Stephanie Calvert - backing and lead vocals (2006-Present)
  • Craig Chaquico - guitar (1984-1990)
  • David Freiberg - keyboard, synthesizer, bass, vocals (1984-1985)
  • John Garnache - bass, vocals (1996-2000)
  • Max Hasket - trumpet, vocals (1992-1993)
  • Melisa Kary - backing and lead vocals (1992-2000)
  • T. Moran - drums (1992-1995)
  • Mark Morgan - keyboard (1988-1990)
  • John Roth - guitar, vocals (2012-Present)
  • John Sandersis - keyboard, saxophone (1992-1995)
  • Christina Marie Saxton - backing and lead vocals (1996-2006)
  • Pete Sears - bass, keyboard (1984-1987)
  • Bill Slais - saxophone, keyboard (1993-1995)
  • Grace Slick - lead vocals, keyboard (1984-1988), (1966–1972, 1989)
  • Jeff Talamaire - guitar (1992-1997)
  • Mickey Thomas - lead vocals (1984-1990, 1992-Present)
  • Erik Torjesen - guitar, vocals (1997-2000)
  • Bobby Vega - bass (1992-1993)
  • Darrell Verdusco - drums, vocals (1995-Present)

Studio Discography:

  • 1985 - Knee Deep In The Hoopla
  • 1987 - No Protection
  • 1989 - Love Among The Cannibals
  • 2013 - Loveless Fascination

"We built this wiki! / We built this wiki on rock and roll!!":

  • The '80s: Starship became pretty much the poster band for the so-called "corporate rock" movement mid-decade.
  • Album Title Drop: Knee Deep In The Hoopla in "We Built This City."
  • Couch Gag: Two in "We Built This City":
    • The bridge between the the second stanza and final reprise of the chorus features a different radio DJ depending on which station played the song back in the day (The version as done by MTV's Les Garland is the one heard in the studio recording).
    • On top of that, many of those stations would also hire some singers (the same ones responsible for the jingles and music on American Top 40 at the time, JAM Creative Productions; who in turn were assisted by the band's label, RCA Records), to record a tagline between the opening lines and the first verse.
  • One-Woman Song: "Sara".
  • Power Ballad: "Sara", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", "It's Not Enough".
  • Questioning Title?: "How Do You Sleep?", "What Did I Ever Do?", "Where Did We Go Wrong?", and "How Will I Get By?" from Loveless Fascination.
  • Revolving Door Band: As evidenced by the huge list of band members written above.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • David Freiberg quit Starship not long after it was formed. He lasted long enough to be around for the first sessions of Knee Deep In The Hoopla, but found himself replaced in the studio by session musicians.
    • Pete Sears quit Starship after Knee Deep In The Hoopla when during a performance of "Sara" he realized just how much they had sold out and wondered what the hell he was still doing with them.
    • Grace Slick quit Starship after No Protection so she could rejoin the reformed Jefferson Airplane at that time - only to quit them after one tour when she decided she was getting too old for this.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "We Built This City" features DJ Les Garland providing the voice-over during the song's bridge. There were also localized variants featuring DJs of other radio stations during its original radio broadcasts.
  • What Have I Become?: Both Sears and Slick felt Starship had sold out, straying too far from Jefferson Airplane's folk/psychedelic rock roots.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "We Built This City" uses mostly nonsense lyrics which is a contributing factor in critics slamming the song as "the worst rock song ever".