Phil Collins Wanted to Flee Disastrous Led Zeppelin Live Aid Reunion

Vistalite Black

Ludwigs in the Basement
Joined
Feb 17, 2015
Messages
3,512
Reaction score
1,312
Location
North Carolina
It's been 35 years, but I have a vivid memory of how terrible the Led Zeppelin Live Aid set was. Phil Collins had interesting things to say about his disastrous playing on that day in a recent interview, according to excerpts in the drumming authority, UltimateGuitar.com:

The performance was very much marred by the drummers' lack of rehearsal, Jimmy's out-of-tune guitar, bad monitors, and Plant's hoarse voice. Recalling how the whole thing came to be, Phil said:

"I'd played on Robert Plant's solo records and he said: 'Are you doing this Live Aid thing?' And I said: 'Yeah.' And he said: 'Can you get me on it? [US promoter] Bill Graham doesn't like me and he doesn't like Zeppelin. Maybe you, me and Jimmy can do something?'

"And I said: 'Great, yeah.' And then Sting called me and said: 'Can we do something together?' [UK promoter] Harvey Goldsmith said: 'You can get Concorde and play both.' I said: 'Well, okay, if it can be done.' I didn't think I'd be showing off.

"By the time I got there, me and Robert and Jimmy playing together had become The Second Coming of Led Zeppelin - John Paul Jones was there too. Jimmy says: 'We need to rehearse.' And I said: 'Can't we just go on stage and have a play?'

"So I didn't rehearse when I got there, but I listened to 'Stairway to Heaven' on Concorde. I arrived and went to the caravans, and Robert said: 'Jimmy Page is belligerent.' Page says: 'We've been rehearsing!' And I said: 'I saw your first gig in London, I know the stuff!' He says: 'Alright, how does it go, then?'

"So I sort of... [mimes the 'Stairway to Heaven' drum part], and Page says: 'No, it doesn't! It doesn't go like that!' So I had a word with [co-drummer] Tony Thompson - 'cause I've played as two drummers a lot and it can be a train wreck - and I say: 'Let's stay out of each other's way and play simple.'

"Thompson, rest his soul, had rehearsed for a week, and I'm about to steal his thunder - the famous drummer's arrived! - and he kind of did what he wanted to do. Robert wasn't match-fit. And if I could have walked off, I would have done, 'cause I wasn't needed and I felt like a spare part."

Could he tell it was going badly?

"Yeah, frankly. But we'd all have been talking for 30 years about why I walked off stage if I'd done it, so I stayed there. Anyway, we came off, and we got interviewed by MTV. And Robert is a diamond, but when those guys get together a black cloud appears.

"Then Page says: 'One drummer was halfway across the Atlantic and didn't know the stuff.' And I got pissed off. Maybe I didn't know it as well as he'd like me to have done, but... I became the flagship, and it looked like I was showing off."

 

PaulD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
162
Reaction score
95
I was a teenage drummer at the time and was home all day to see Live Aid. I was also a fan of both Tony Thompson and Phil Collins (as drummers) and it was obvious that Tony Thompson (RIP) was carrying it.
 

SteveB

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
7,940
Reaction score
266
Location
South Hampton, NH
He seemed pretty calm and upbeat to me....others would have done it differently of course. He's not John. Phil had his own thing and I thought his playing in Genesis was great when Peter was out front...and Brand X.
 

cochlea

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
2,118
Reaction score
475
Location
Western New York
Just by coincidence I was digging into this topic last night and came across the following interview with Jimmy Page. He begins discussing the Live Aid debacle beginning at the 6:57 mark.

 

BennyK

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 6, 2008
Messages
14,850
Reaction score
1,835
Are you listening to the same vocals I am?
wow ... there are legion bands around here hipper'n than that . Collins was the wrong guy iin the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people .
 
Last edited:

cashmanbashman

Very well Known Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2013
Messages
1,161
Reaction score
213
Location
South Dakota
I’m to young for Zeppelins hay day but my parents were not so I know there recorded music well. I also smoked my fair share of grass when I was young so I know every second of Stairway and that was not good stoned or sober.
 

Jordan Zimmerman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Messages
130
Reaction score
181
Location
Panama City, Panama
I feel bad mostly for Tony Thomspon - a truly great drummer. I'm a bit suspicious of Collins' memory. At the time, he certainly seemed to love the attention of needing to fly on the Concorde to do both gigs. It would've been so much better had he not played. Collins was the worst one on stage in that set. There was a quote from Thompson about it that I don't remember. But, he was very unhappy about the whole thing.
 

Mongrel

DFO Veteran
Joined
Oct 3, 2016
Messages
2,484
Reaction score
1,502
Location
South Jersey, USA
Yea....soooo...wellll....

ANYBODY talking about the drums (or the bass for that matter) in that performance is not only tone-deaf, but brain dead.

Page and Plant should be ashamed that video of that performance even exists...

Phil *should* have walked off.
 

moodman

Lone Wolf
Joined
Aug 4, 2005
Messages
4,633
Reaction score
848
Location
Quityerbitchin, USA
I read in MD that Tony Thompson's inspiration to drum was Zep and he had it all down for the concert and was very disappointed by Phil being there. That makes Page's blaming it on the 'drummahs" a BS call. '
Phil said "Tony, rest his soul, had rehearsed for a week"
 
Last edited:

Ptrick

Very well Known Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
Messages
837
Reaction score
1,132
Location
USA
That definitely wasn’t a great performance. But there are worse ones on YouTube from the 70’s where Plant can’t sing or remember the lyrics, and Page fumbles throughout the songs.
 

drawtheline55

Owner/admin
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Messages
3,913
Reaction score
488
Location
Boston
I think we are being a bit too harsh here, its a big charity event, not anyones show, limited time....and lots of unknowns.
Given that, I thought it was fine, saw the whole thing live. Hey its a party for a good cause etc..."check your egos at the door"
was the vibe. One thing is for sure John Bonham drove that band.....and they were spoiled...when he wasn't there.

My hat is off to Robert Plant when he said...."Led Zeppelin died the day John Bonham died.
 

dale w miller

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
801
Reaction score
618
Location
Ocean, NJ
Yea....soooo...wellll....

ANYBODY talking about the drums (or the bass for that matter) in that performance is not only tone-deaf, but brain dead.

Page and Plant should be ashamed that video of that performance even exists...

Phil *should* have walked off.
Many people think he should have never been there in the first place.
 

Nacci

DFO Master
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
3,202
Reaction score
2,177
Location
Roxbury, NH.
If you watch the Bonzo Bashes then you know how hard it is for even the worlds great rock drummers to replicate/mimic John Bonham’s sound and feel.

Lots of very good drummers sit on that throne and 10 seconds into I am already cringing.

The best I’ve seen is probably Charlie Benante and Brian Tichy

I saw Page and Plant when they toured together, I don’t know; 20 years ago and they had Michael Lee on drums and he just killed it. You could have closed your eyes and pretended Bonham was playing.

I also think that Steve Gorman did a hell of a job covering Bonham on the Live at the Greek recordings.
 


Top