Jimmy Page still blames Phil Collins for Led Zeppelin's disastrous Live Aid reunion

18 October 2021, 12:31 | Updated: 6 October 2023, 10:06

Phil Collins and Led Zeppelin at Live Aid
Phil Collins and Led Zeppelin at Live Aid. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

The band hated the performance so much it's not even on the Live Aid DVD.

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When Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died on September 25, 1980, the surviving members of the band quickly decided to call it a day.

Just five years later though, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were talked into reuniting to play the Philadelphia leg of the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium on July 13, 1985.

Joining them on stage were bassist Paul Martinez and Chic/Power Station drummer Tony Thompson, as well as another very special guest behind the kit: Genesis drummer and solo megastar Phil Collins.

Led Zeppelin - Live Aid. 1985 07 13. Full Concert.

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Collins played his own 'Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)' and 'In The Air Tonight' before Led Zeppelin came to the stage for 'Rock and Roll', 'Whole Lotta Love' and 'Stairway To Heaven'.

Martinez and Collins had been drafted in because of their work on Robert Plant's solo material, but the three-song set didn't turn out how anybody had hoped.

Technical difficulties, lack of rehearsal time and Plant's voice being out of shape meant the performance has long been thought of as a disaster.

So much so, the band have blocked the broadcasts of their sets. and banned it from being on the Live Aid DVD released in 2004.

Phil Collins - Against All Odds (Live Aid 1985 - Philadelphia)

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Jimmy Page has long blamed Phil Collins for the shambolic performance, and it seems as though he still feels that way.

"The drummer couldn’t get the beginning of 'Rock and Roll', so we were in real trouble with that," Page told The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

He added that the decision to get back together was "not very clever".

Previously, Page said: "Robert told me Phil Collins wanted to play with us. I told him that was all right if he knows the numbers.

"But at the end of the day, he 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."

Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight (Live Aid 1985)

For his part, Collins felt there was plenty of blame to be spread around, telling Q in 2014: "I thought it was just going to be low-key and we'd all get together and have a play.

"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."

He added: "Robert was happy to see me, but Jimmy wasn't. You could sense I wasn't welcome.

"If I could have walked off, I would have done. But then we'd all be talking about why Phil Collins walked off Live Aid - so I just stuck it out.

Sting / Phil Collins - Every Breath You Take (Live Aid 1985)

"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."

In Collins' defence, Led Zeppelin's next reunion in 1988 for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert with John Bonham's son Jason replacing him on drums wasn't much better received.

It wasn't until their next full reunion in 2007 at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at the O2 Arena in London that the band had a comeback performance they were happy with.

What's more, Phil seemed to go down well on both of his other Live Aid sets.

He joined Sting and Branford Marsalis at London's Wembley Stadium, playing a couple of his own hits as part of the show, before flying in a helicopter piloted by Noel Edmonds (that Noel Edmonds) to Heathrow and racing to Philadelphia by Concorde to play in the US.

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