Phil Collins Wanted to Flee Disastrous Led Zeppelin Live Aid Reunion

Vistalite Black

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True indeed.
Bowie and his band schooled every act on BOTH Live Aid stages about how a professional conducts a cool and effortless performance. In fact, all the other acts appeared amateur, frazzled and chaotic compared to Bowie's set.

After viewing every single performance that day, my girlfriend and I both emphatically agreed that Bowie completely STOLE the entire show and made it all look like a stroll in the park with his confidence and professionalism.


Of course it's all on youtube, check it out!

Relaxed & confident in a powder blue suit - Bowie owned Live Aid.

When writing your post, did you ask yourself, Why didn’t Hollywood make a movie based around Bowie’s Live Aid performance of TVC15 and three other songs?
Bohemian Rhapsody is the smash hit movie it is because it captures some of the spirit of Queen’s legendary Live Aid set.
 
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cornelius

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This is from an interview with TT in '85

CS: At Live Aid, you actually filledBonham's chair for the Led Zeppelin reunion. Can you tell me how that whole thing came about?
TT: Yeah, I was on the road with the Power Station in Virginia, and RobertPlant called. He said that he and JimmyPage were listening to the Power Station album, and they really enjoyed my play-ing. He wanted to know if I would considerdoing Live Aid. I kind of told them no at first, because I was really worried that we
weren't going to have a rehearsal. I waskind of leery about going on stage in front of a couple of billion people and messingup. I went to Sarasota, Florida, after that,and they kept calling. Phil Carson, whomanages Robert or something like that,said that they were willing to come to Sara-sota to rehearse with me. It finally worked out that we rehearsed the day of Live Aidin a recording studio about an hour beforewe went on.
CS: Are there any words to describe thefeeling of sitting in Bonzo's chair?
TT: For me, it was just a dream come true. It's as simple as that. They could have called any drummer in the world to playwith them, and they called me. So it was anhonor. It really was. I had such a good time in rehearsal. It was amazing. I just wish that Phil [Collins] would have come to rehearsal, because a lot of people just assume that it's easy to play that kind ofstuff. It really isn't. There were a lot ofthose Led Zeppelin tunes I had played inbar bands, and when I finally got to playwith the real guys, it was like the way I hadplayed them was totally wrong. They just showed me little things that Bonzo used todo, and it was just amazing.
CS: As a matter of fact, I read an interviewwith Plant where he was talking aboutwhen Phil Collins asked if he could sit in.Plant tried to discourage him a little and said, "Have you ever played any of those tunes?"
TT: It's not easy to play that stuff. And Ireally found that out in rehearsal. But that was the best time. We sounded so muchbetter in rehearsal than we did when we hitthe stage—so much better. 1 had a reallygood time. It was an honor, and all the guys were sweethearts. It was really great.
 

cornelius

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Oh, and the funny thing is, on the same page as that excerpt with Tony, is a Remo ad with Phil Collins... "Phil Collins and Friends..."
 

Tigerdrummer

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I think it was horrible, and I'm not at all surprised an article like this came out. Plant sounded bad; Page sounded worse.
Yes it was horrible. Its like Stacy Keach doing a bad Robert Plant impersonation. Trainwreck
 

ThomFloor

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When writing your post, did you ask yourself, Why didn’t Hollywood make a movie based around Bowie’s Live Aid performance of TVC15 and three other songs?
Bohemian Rhapsody is the smash hit movie it is because it captures some of the spirit of Queen’s legendary Live Aid set.
Bohemian Rhapsody - mostly a hit movie because of the fictional plot line they went to, and all out of chronological order, in order to make it 'Hollywood' enough. Unconscionable that Roger and Brian went along with it.
Hollywood could never touch Bowie...way too classy.
 

Pounder

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Bohemian Rhapsody - mostly a hit movie because of the fictional plot line they went to, and all out of chronological order, in order to make it 'Hollywood' enough. Unconscionable that Roger and Brian went along with it.
Hollywood could never touch Bowie...way too classy.
I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was awesome, the songs were arranged such that it supported the story line. Brian May's (and Roger Taylor's) answer to the out-of-sync chronology ("We Weren't making a Documentary"): https://archive.blabbermouth.net/news/queens-brian-may-defends-timeline-inaccuracies-in-bohemian-rhapsody-biopic-we-werent-making-a-documentary/
 

Vistalite Black

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Bohemian Rhapsody - mostly a hit movie because of the fictional plot line they went to, and all out of chronological order, in order to make it 'Hollywood' enough. Unconscionable that Roger and Brian went along with it.
Hollywood could never touch Bowie...way too classy.
Sorry you had trouble following BoRhap. It has an 85% Rotten Tomatoes score and won a Golden Globes Best Picture and an Oscar for best actor.
 

Hemant

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This is from an interview with TT in '85

CS: At Live Aid, you actually filledBonham's chair for the Led Zeppelin reunion. Can you tell me how that whole thing came about?
TT: Yeah, I was on the road with the Power Station in Virginia, and RobertPlant called. He said that he and JimmyPage were listening to the Power Station album, and they really enjoyed my play-ing. He wanted to know if I would considerdoing Live Aid. I kind of told them no at first, because I was really worried that we
weren't going to have a rehearsal. I waskind of leery about going on stage in front of a couple of billion people and messingup. I went to Sarasota, Florida, after that,and they kept calling. Phil Carson, whomanages Robert or something like that,said that they were willing to come to Sara-sota to rehearse with me. It finally worked out that we rehearsed the day of Live Aidin a recording studio about an hour beforewe went on.
CS: Are there any words to describe thefeeling of sitting in Bonzo's chair?
TT: For me, it was just a dream come true. It's as simple as that. They could have called any drummer in the world to playwith them, and they called me. So it was anhonor. It really was. I had such a good time in rehearsal. It was amazing. I just wish that Phil [Collins] would have come to rehearsal, because a lot of people just assume that it's easy to play that kind ofstuff. It really isn't. There were a lot ofthose Led Zeppelin tunes I had played inbar bands, and when I finally got to playwith the real guys, it was like the way I hadplayed them was totally wrong. They just showed me little things that Bonzo used todo, and it was just amazing.
CS: As a matter of fact, I read an interviewwith Plant where he was talking aboutwhen Phil Collins asked if he could sit in.Plant tried to discourage him a little and said, "Have you ever played any of those tunes?"
TT: It's not easy to play that stuff. And Ireally found that out in rehearsal. But that was the best time. We sounded so muchbetter in rehearsal than we did when we hitthe stage—so much better. 1 had a reallygood time. It was an honor, and all the guys were sweethearts. It was really great.
I had done some preliminary research on this topic for a free-lance article on Tony (my biggest drumming influence) I was planning to write several years ago. This is basically the same story that Tony's family and some of his former Crown of Thorns bandmates relayed and I recall an interview with Jason Bonham, who was a friend of Tony, confirming a similar version. Phil wanted in on the reunion badly and had been part of the production of Plant's "Principles of the Moment" album. He was driving a lot of the "Phil plays both sides of the Atlantic" narrative as a centerpiece of the show. For those old enough to remember, Live Aid really was a huge deal in 1985. It was a Woodstock moment for GenX. Phil put the pressure on after Page and Plant had already asked Tony, and they could have asked any drummer in the world to play that gig. Tony was gracious in that MD interview, but he was privately seething. For Phil to think he could play 3 sets in London, hop on a trans-continental global flight, jump off, immediately anoint himself musical director and tell Tony how to play after only he had rehearsed the Zeppelin set, play a set with Clapton's band, ask to have his kit left onstage while he played a solo piano set of his hits in front of the curtain during the stage turnover, and then stay onstage like it was open mic night at the pub to play with the most anticipated reunion during the show in front of a packed stadium of 100,000 and global audience of 1 billion -- WITH NO REHEARSAL -- in my opinion was the height of ego and hubris.

Page: "[Phil] didn't know anything. We played 'Whole Lotta Love', and he was just there bashing away cluelessly and grinning. I thought that was really a joke."

The video backs up Page's perspective - watch the bridge - Phil had no clue. Phil really stole what should have been a career defining moment for Thompson right out from underneath him, and all the media coverage immediately pivoted to Phil. MTV even excluded Tony from the post-gig interviews and at many points made him an afterthought by failing to mention him as performing in the onscreen captions. That was even more infuriating given that he, Eddie Kendricks, Patti LaBelle and Tina Turner were the only Black performers in the headlining acts during the prime broadcast hours of the show. Tony was later invited to explore a reformed Zeppelin and the band went into rehearsals at one of Peter Gabriel's studios near Baath, but Tony was involved in a near fatal car crash just as rehearsals started and that was the end of it.

Phil really took a posthumous slag at Tony in his auto-biograpy a few years ago and chided him for taking a "heavy-handed" lead among other things. It did not land well with many people. Glad to see Phil is at least starting to walk some of it back. He was a great drummer and songwriter in his own right with a secure legacy - but that whole fiasco from him was not cool from several angles.
 
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ThomFloor

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Phil really took a posthumous slag at Tony in his auto-biograpy a few years ago and chided him for taking a "heavy-handed" lead among other things. It did not land well with many people. Glad to see Phil is at least starting to walk some of it back. He was a great drummer and songwriter in his own right with a secure legacy - but that whole fiasco from him was not cool from several angles.
Interesting. i had read most of Phil's autobio and the message I got was that Plant begged him to come along, not Phil him inserting himself in the act. I see he has backed off on that....maybe revisionist history, it was decades ago.
Unfortunately Phil's autobio was the rare one I could not finish reading due to the incessant self-loathing in the last third of the book (and I am a Phil Collins fan).
 

drummingbulldog

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Zep with Bonzo never lived up to the sound of their studio albums. Page did multi-tracking for the albums so he always sounded thin. Plus, as his drug addiction worsened he was never up to the task. Their music is kinda like hard rock Beatles. Highly produced and difficult to replicate live. Page was by far the biggest liability in Zep. I'm not saying he wasn't great. He just made this hard on a 4 pc band live. Jones & Bonham almost always still sounded great. People never give JPJ enough credit. He really was a fantastic musician and a great bassist. Zep shouldn't have played the liveaid gig but they did. Their music is too hard to pull off in a jam setting. Even with rehearsal & Jason Bonham it's kinda ehh. That's why they were good. That had a thing you can't copy. Especially without Bonzo.
 

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When I saw JPJ and his trio open for King Crimson in the 90's for his Zooma album I thought "Wow, he contributed far more to their sound than I had thought". So diverse with his playing and compositions.
 

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Yes, John Paul Jones is just monster. His organ work on the intro to No Quarter is epic.
 

Nyama74

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Like Hemant, my understanding was that Phil Collins basically inserted himself into the reunion, didn't bother to learn the songs and then tried to throw Tony Thompson under the bus to deflect blame. If you watch the post-gig interview, Phil admits that he asked Robert if he could play with Led Zeppelin around the 1:00 minute mark (not the other way around). Pretty inexcusable:

 

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