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Monday, October 18, 2021

Whole lotta acrimony: Jimmy Page blames Phil Collins for Led Zeppelin’s disastrous Live Aid set

Jimmy Page has put Phil Collins in the frame for a disastrous Live Aid concert as he reveals the band had only two hours’ rehearsal before performing. 

Page, the founder of Led Zeppelin, admitted “it was not very clever” to reunite for the 1985 fundraiser in Philadelphia with Collins behind the drum kit.   

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Page recounted the band’s struggles to get to grips with the opening song in the band’s set.  

“The drummer couldn’t get the beginning of Rock and Roll, so we were in real trouble with that, that was really not very clever,” he told the audience. 

He added they only had “two hours” of rehearsal time before their set, which also included Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven.  

Phil Collins, in an interview with Classic Rock Magazine last year, said he had even considered walking off stage during the performance as he felt like a “spare part”.      

His rehearsal time had been limited to listening to the band’s songs on the flight to  Philadelphia from London. 

The band had disbanded in 1980, following the alcohol-related death of their 32-year-old drummer Jon Bonham, but reunited five years later for the Live Aid performance at the now demolished John F Kennedy Stadium. 

Collins was paired alongside Tony Thompson, a drummer for the English-American pop supergroup The Power Station, to fill in for Bonham.  

Collins in his autobiography, Not Dead Yet, said he had even resorted to “miming” playing Rock and Roll to “avoid a trainwreck” with Thompson. 

He wrote: “I know the wheels are falling off from early on in the set. I can’t hear Robert clearly from where I’m sat, but I can hear enough to know that he’s not on top of his game. Ditto Jimmy. 

“I don’t remember playing Rock And Roll, but obviously I did. But I do remember an awful lot of time where I can hear what Robert decries as ‘knitting’: fancy drumming. 

“And if you can find the footage (the Zeppelin camp have done their best to scrub it from the history books), you can see me miming, playing the air, getting out of the way lest there be a trainwreck.

“If I’d known it was to be a two-drummer band, I would have removed myself from proceedings long before I got anywhere near Philadelphia.”

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