Led Zeppelin is selling albums again as its reissues are doing well on the Amazon charts — just as the band continues to fight allegations it stole the signature opening rift from its classic tune “Stairway to Heaven.” Businessweek noted the recent high sales only make the legal stakes even higher for the band.
While Led Zeppelin is on a professional high note, Phil Collins, former member of Genesis with a notable solo career, is reminding fans of an unfortunate performance that the band would likely want forgotten.
In 1985, Zeppelin reunited onstage at Live Aid, with Collins participating on drums. According to Friday’s Toronto Sun, Collins considered pulling out of the gig as problems became obvious.
“I thought it was just going to be low-key and we’d all get together and have a blow, have a play. But something happened between that conversation and the day, and it became a Led Zeppelin reunion. I turned up and I was a square peg in a round hole. I was not welcome. Robert was happy to see me, but Jimmy wasn’t. I went out there and as soon as we started I thought, ‘This is a mistake.’ You could sense that I wasn’t welcome and Tony was not making life easy and if I could have walked off, I would have done. But then we’d all be talking about why Phil Collins walked off of Live Aid. So I just stuck it out. It was a disaster, really. Robert was not match-fit with his voice and Jimmy was out of it, dribbling. It wasn’t my fault it was crap.”
Collins’ strong words are not the first to condemn the performance. Rolling Stone reported earlier this year that the group refused to allow the set to appear on the 2004 anniversary edition of the concert. Robert Plant told the magazine in 1988 that he was not in strong vocal shape when he hit the stage.
“It was horrendous. Emotionally, I was eating every word that I had uttered. And I was hoarse. I’d done three gigs on the trot before I got to Live Aid. We rehearsed in the afternoon, and by the time I got onstage, my voice was long gone.”
Adding to the problems, Jimmy Page’s guitar was out of tune, technical problems prevented the band members from hearing well, and rehearsal time was short. Collins had just arrived in Philadelphia after flying from the concert’s Wembley venue in the U.K.
Despite Zeppelin’s refusal to have the performance on the DVD set, clips of the performance are readily available on YouTube. As the 2014 Rolling Stone report noted, the performance is perhaps not as bad as the myth makes it out to be.
Phil Collins also made news last week by discussing his ill-fated collaboration with Adele, which apparently fell apart. Collins said, “She’s a slippery little fish, is Adele.”
[Phil Collins Image: Billboard; Robert Plant Image: Google]