Starship is an American rock band established in 1984. Although it was initially a continuation of Jefferson Starship, its change in musical direction, and subsequent loss of key Jefferson Starship personnel and enforced name change ultimately led it to become a separate entity from the original band.
In June 1984, Paul Kantner, the last remaining founding member of Jefferson Airplane, left Jefferson Starship, and then took legal action over the Jefferson Starship name against his former bandmates. Kantner settled out of court and signed an agreement that neither party would use the names "Jefferson" or "Airplane" unless all members of Jefferson Airplane, Inc. (Bill Thompson, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady) agreed. The band briefly changed its name to "Starship Jefferson" while legal proceedings occurred, before settling on the shortened name "Starship." David Freiberg stayed with the band after the lawsuit and attended the first studio sessions for the next album. He became frustrated with the sessions because all the keyboard work in the studio was being done by Peter Wolf (who had played on the sessions for Nuclear Furniture and briefly joined the band on the road for the follow-up tour) and that was the instrument Freiberg was supposed to be playing. He left the band and the next album was finished with the five remaining members, consisting of Slick, co-lead singer Mickey Thomas, guitarist Craig Chaquiço, bassist Pete Sears, and drummer Donny Baldwin. In 1984, Gabriel Katona (who had previously played in Rare Earth and Player) joined the band to play keyboards and saxophone on the road with them through to the end of the 1986 tour.
The next album, Knee Deep in the Hoopla was released in September 1985 and scored two number-one hits. The first was "We Built This City", written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf and was engineered by Grammy-winning producer Bill Bottrell and arranged by Bottrell and Jasun Martz; the second was "Sara". The album itself reached No. 7, went platinum, and spawned two more singles: "Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight" (#26), and "Before I Go" (#68). The band had not had a number-one hit record since previous incarnation Jefferson Starship released Red Octopus in 1975.
"We Built This City" is a song written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf, and originally recorded by US rock group Starship and released as their debut single 1 August 1985.
The single version reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on 16 November 1985, and also number one on the US Top Rock Tracks chart and number twelve in the UK.
What exists of a narrative in the song consists of an argument between the singers (Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick) and an unidentified "you", presumably a music industry executive, who is marginalizing the band and ripping off money from them by "playing corporation games" ("who counts the money underneath the bar?"). In response to this injustice, the singers remind the villain of their importance and fame: "Listen to the radio! Don't you remember? We built this city on rock and roll!" A spoken-word interlude explicitly mentions the Golden Gate Bridge and refers to "the city by the bay", a common moniker for Starship's hometown of San Francisco; Starship's predecessors, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, were prominent members of San Francisco's psychedelic rock scene in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. However, the interlude then follows in rapid fashion by referring to the same city as "the city that rocks", a reference to Cleveland, Ohio (home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum), and then "the city that never sleeps", a nickname for both New York City and Las Vegas. Capitalizing on the ambiguity, several radio stations added descriptions of their own local areas when they broadcast the song, or even simply added their own ident in its place.