Phil Collins’ Reaction To Jimmy Page’s Criticism Of His ‘Failed’ Led Zeppelin Performance

Since their formation in 1968, Led Zeppelin rose to prominence and achieved worldwide success throughout their career with the releases of their successful albums and songs which are regarded as classic rock hits. Sadly, they decided to end their musical career after their drummer John Bonham’s passing in 1980.

After the band’s disbandment, Led Zeppelin members continued to appear on the stage together from time to time. With these performances, Zeppelin pleased their fans who are really eager to see their favorite band performing again. However, on July 13, 1985, one of these performances went pretty bad.

That day, Plant, Page, and Jones reunited to perform for the Live Aid concert. For that performance, Phil Collins accompanied them on the stage as their drummer. Following a series of unfortunate events such as Page’s out-of-tune guitar, the lack of rehearsal, and Plant’s losing his voice, the show turned out to be a disaster. Let’s learn what Jimmy Page thought about that performance, and how Collins reacted to him.

Jimmy Page Regretted Hiring Phil Collins For The Live Aid Performance

After the disastrous reunion performance at Live Aid, a feud sparked between Jimmy Page and Phil Collins. To take revenge on Collins, Page even pulled a prank on the musician. When asked about the show in an interview by The Times, the musician revealed that the tension remains between him and Collins.

In the interview, Page recalled what happened at the Live Aid show and revealed his thoughts on hiring Phil Collins for the performance. According to Page, it was a big mistake hiring Collins as their drummer back then. While talking about him, Page even referred to Collins as ‘the drummer,’ rather than calling him by his name.

Before the performance, Collins didn’t have time to rehearse with the band. Therefore, it was not a surprise for him to struggle to keep up with the band or play the songs right. Page then talked about this issue in the interview and said Collins couldn’t play the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock And Roll’ and put the band in real trouble.

After revealing that it wasn’t very clever to hire Phil Collins, Jimmy Page told The Times in the interview that:

“The drummer couldn’t get the beginning of ‘Rock And Roll.’ So, we were in real trouble with that.”

However, it seems that Phil Collins also had something to say about the performance. Let’s learn the incident from the drummer’s perspective this time.

Phil Collins Blamed The Lack Of Rehearsal For The Disaster And Said He Felt Like A Spare Part

In an interview on Classic Rock, Phil Collins recalled the disastrous reunion performance at Live Aid. He said that he wasn’t ready for the show as it wasn’t among his plans when he got there. Following that, Collins said he listened to ‘Stairway To Heaven’ on his way and asked Page if they cannot play without a rehearsal. According to the musician, Page told him they were already rehearsing.

Following that, Collins tried to show he knew Led Zeppelin’s songs by miming ‘Stairway To Heaven’s drum part, but Page told him it doesn’t go like that. So, he decided to talk with the co-drummer Tony Thompson to ask him to stay out of each other’s way during the show. Collins then praised Thompson’s drumming and said he felt like a spare part as he wasn’t that much needed for the performance.

Phil Collins then continued implying he knew the performance was going to end up badly. Moreover, he recalled Page’s statement saying Collins didn’t know the stuff. The musician revealed that he was pissed off when he heard that. However, he accepted that he didn’t know Led Zeppelin’s songs as much as Page wanted him to be. Saying this happened because he looked like showing off, Collins revealed these criticisms affected him.

In the 2020 interview on Classic Rock, Phil Collins recalled those days as:

“With Concorde, it looked like I was showing off. 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? 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?’ 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, I 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 – cos 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, cos I wasn’t needed and I felt like a spare part.

After the interviewer told him if he could tell the performance was going badly, Collins said:

“Yeah, frankly. But we’d all have been talking for thirty 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.

Asked why these criticisms affected him so much, Collins stated:

“Because you tend to beat yourself up. You start to think you are the things people say you are. Things like that review you just read me of ‘Another Day In Paradise.’ I should be over that by now, but it still puts the hackles up occasionally.”

Although so many years have passed since that show, it seems the tension between Jimmy Page and Phil Collins is still intact. Besides, not rehearsing before the concert is a quite valid excuse, and apparently, Collins also thinks that way.