According to The Pulse Of Radio, Robert Plant credits Phil Collins for helping steer his early solo career. Plant, who has been a solo artist nearly three times as long as he was fronting LED ZEPPELIN, appeared on Britain’s Sky Arts 1 channel and spoke frankly about the process of going solo following John Bonham‘s death and the breakup of ZEPPELIN.
Plant recalled that Phil Collins provided the support necessary at that point in his life. “I made my business to go out and start again at the age of 32 — it’s, like, hysterical, really, when you think about it now,” he said. “But I worked and worked with these guys — Robbie Blunt, who was a particularly fine guitarist. And I was graced by my first two solo records, ‘Pictures At Eleven’ and ‘(The) Principle Of Moments’. A drummer contacted me and said, ‘I love [John] Bonham so much I wanna sit behind you when you sing. It was Phil Collins. His career was just kicking in and he was the most spirited and positive and really encouraging force, because you can’t imagine what it was like, me trying to carve my own way after all that.”
Collins in November admitted that during his 1985 cameo as LED ZEPPELIN‘s drummer at Live Aid, he considered splitting mid-performance. Collins was particularly close to Plant in the early ’80s, having drummed on his first two solo albums; 1982’s “Pictures At Eleven” and 1983’s “The Principle Of Moments”, for which he toured as part of Plant‘s live band.
Collins, who was enjoying superstar status that summer, had performed a morning set at London’s Wembley Stadium with Sting and Branford Marsalis, before hopping on the Concorde in time to play in Philadelphia with both Eric Clapton and the reunited ZEPPELIN with fellow drummer, studio session ace Tony Thompson — who also performed earlier as part of the POWER STATION. Plant solo bassist Paul Martinez rounded out the lineup, stepping in on bass when John Paul Jones switched to keyboard. The band’s Live Aid set marked Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones‘ first joint performance since the band called it quits following John Bonham‘s 1980 death.
Phil Collins recalled the ill-fated gig during an interview with Q magazine, saying: “It was a disaster, really. Robert wasn’t match-fit with his voice and Jimmy was out of it, dribbling. It wasn’t my fault it was crap. If I could have walked off, I would have. But then we’d all be talking about why Phil Collins walked off Live Aid — so I just stuck it out.”
He went on to say that Page wasn’t particularly impressed with him being temporarily added to the band’s lineup. “You could sense I wasn’t welcome. I thought it was just going to be low-key and we’d all get together and have a play,” Collins said. “But something happened between that conversation and the day — it became a LED ZEPPELIN reunion. I turned up and I was a square peg in a round hole. Robert was happy to see me, but Jimmy wasn’t.”
In 2004 a deluxe DVD package featuring 10 of the concert’s 16 hours of the London and Philly shows was released, omitting portions of some sets — along with complete appearances by some bands — including LED ZEPPELIN. Phil Collins told The Pulse Of Radio that he would’ve been happy to have the footage come out. “I didn’t know that ZEPPELIN had refused permission. I certainly wouldn’t have minded — I mean, I was just sitting there playing the drums as best I could. But it wasn’t their finest hour, no. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was nerves, drugs, booze — I don’t know. It just wasn’t that great.”
Collins went on to say that due to the fact that the legendary concerts were broadcast worldwide, it doesn’t matter that the band had their lackluster set pulled from the official Live Aid DVD, explaining that the footage will always exist in one form or another. “It wasn’t their finest hour, and whether it’s one of those things that they feel was bad enough on the day, but not to have repeated viewings — I mean, everybody videoed it, and if anybody wants to see it, they’ve just got to get their video out and play it,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s gonna stop people from thinking about it and watching it.”