The Key Role Phil Collins Played In Saving Robert Plant’s Career
Led Zeppelin is still one of the most important and influential bands the rock and roll world has ever harbored. The band came to an end after the death of their beloved drummer John Bonham in 1980 as Led Zeppelin was not Led Zeppelin without their one quarter.
However, in 1985, they decided to reunite for the legendary Live Aid concert to benefit the famine in Africa. The concert was a disaster for Led Zeppelin as many unfortunate events happened during the show. Plant’s voice wasn’t heard, Page’s guitar wasn’t tuned, and the drummer didn’t know the songs. The drummer they hired to replace Bonham in that concert was Genesis’ Phil Collins. Page still describes that decision as their worst decision to this day.
After that performance, Page never stopped resenting Collins and even pulled a cruel prank to get back at him for ruining their reunion. However, Robert Plant has a different and more sentimental relationship with Collins. In 2019, Plant talked about Collins in his podcast and confessed a very unusual truth that Collins has a huge contribution to his solo career and helped him get back on track after losing his bandmate.
What Was Robert Plant And Phil Collins’ Relationship Like?
It was a difficult time for Plant in the 1980s to continue music without his band. After reaching all the success with Led Zeppelin, he almost had to start a career from scratch on his own. This required strength and determination, and he was struggling with that in the studio. He felt like he was lost since he didn’t know how to act around the studio on his own. The person who helped and pushed him was Phil Collins.
Plant described his struggles by saying:
“I really didn’t realize just how much patience and concentration you really need in a studio to get people to perform, give you something really, really important – because Zeppelin seemed to roll out in some kind of magical way. It was a real new twist. I had to really bluff my way through it because I really didn’t know studio etiquette, after all that success in Zeppelin. I never really went behind the desk at all, except for to push the vocal effects on the Zeppelin tracks a bit more, here and there.”
Collins offered him to play the drums for his record because he assumed it would be difficult for Plant to sit on a drum stool after Bonham. He pushed him in his first solo album ‘Pictures at Eleven’ released in 1982 and contributed with his drums making Plant re-enter the music industry with his own name. Collins also assisted him in his second album The ‘Principle of Moments,’ released in 1983, and went on tour with him.
Here is how Collins helped Plant:
“I was helped absolutely and admirably by Phil Collins, who came along and said, ‘John Bonham was probably the most important influence in my life. I’ll sit on that stool for you.’ We had really great fun. Then he came on tour with us. [Collins] said, ‘I can do this for a month,’ and that was when ‘In the Air Tonight’ was just breaking. He gave everyone a coating every night on the bus for playing too slow – smooth and cool, you could call the guys, but Phil was having none of it! He’d stand up on the drum riser, sticks in his hands, ‘Get it right! Come on, let’s go!’“
Robert Plant Didn’t Resent Phil Collins Like Jimmy Page Did
Two years after Collins helped out Plant, he was offered to play the drums for the Led Zeppelin reunion for the Live Aid show. According to Collins, he didn’t know about it until it was too late to rehearse. Phil stated in a 2020 interview that he was offended by Page’s comments because he felt like spare parts, and it was offensive for him to say that he didn’t know the songs.
The lack of rehearsals also contributed to the failure, which seems like it was both sides’ fault. Unfortunately, the feud still goes on and Page still resents Collins for ‘ruining’ the show. The reluctance of a proper Led Zeppelin reunion might also be the result of this mismatch. The band wants nothing more than to preserve Bonham’s legacy, and it seems like they don’t want to risk it in any more ways.
You can listen to Plant talk about Collins below.