What went wrong with Led Zeppelin at Live Aid?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by milco, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. milco

    milco Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I watched a BBC documentary last night about the Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia. Admittedly, some performances went better than others. When it came to Led Zeppelin's performance, however, something seems to have gone very badly wrong!

    In the documentary we heard Phil Collins' side of the story. Plant's voice was under-cooked, Page sort of meandered around, 'drooling' (!), and he felt that there was a generally bad vibe within the band from the off.

    I never saw the gig itself on the TV. What do people here think went wrong with Led Zeppelin at Live Aid? Was it really that bad?
  2. zen

    zen Senior Member

    Seemed like vintage Zep. Good days, bad days you know they've had their share.
  3. FloydMaui

    FloydMaui good kitty

    50th State

    .... and just four days later .... here is rare video of Robert Plant back on his Shaken 'n' Stirred tour.
    Richie Hayward (of Little Feat) - drums
    Robbie Blunt - guitar
    Paul Martinez - bass
    Jezz Woodroffe - keyboards

    did Plant have to cancel a date to be at Live Aid ?
    The Shaken 'N' Stirred Tour - Wikipedia

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    regarding Phil Collins' 2016 book .....

    The same cannot be said of that other great Seventies rock band Led Zeppelin, who make a brief appearance in Collins’ book. “I felt I had been made the scapegoat for what happened at Live Aid and so it was a chance to set the record straight.” It was Zeppelin’s first appearance since drummer John Bonham died five years before and has gone down in history as a mess so shambolic that the band tried to bury the footage (of course, this was before YouTube). The way Collins recounts it the atmosphere was toxically poisonous, the band cocky and under-rehearsed.

    "Here’s how it is. Robert on his own: a lovely bloke. Robert and anything to do with Zeppelin: a strange chemistry happens. It’s like a nasty strain of alchemy. Everything becomes very dark – sulphurous even." He describes Jimmy Page as "jumpy", staggering around "like a baby giraffe".

    Although Collins only agreed to play as a favor to Plant, Zeppelin in the meantime recruited American drummer Tony Thompson, who was unhappy about sharing the spot and simply ignored Collins. “It wasn’t pleasant. If you watch the video, you can see Jimmy dribbling onstage, Robert not hitting the notes, and you can see me miming, playing the air, just to get out of the way.” Collins seems unconcerned about what might come of his comments. “Robert is still my friend. And being the kind of person he is, I think he’ll say I’m right. When Zeppelin get together, something happens. Bad karma.”

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Phil Collins: Why I'm not to blame for Led Zeppelin's Live Aid fiasco

    Oct 2016 / by Phil Collins

    In an excerpt from his new autobiography, Not Dead Yet, Phil Collins reveals what it was like being the spare wheel as Led Zeppelin's Live Aid set crashed and burned

    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.

    Onstage I don’t take my eyes off Tony Thompson. I’m glued to him. I’m having to follow – he’s taking the heavy-handed lead and has opted to ignore all my advice. Putting myself in his shoes, he’s probably thinking, "This is the beginning of a new career. John Bonham isn’t around any more. They’re gonna want someone. This could be the start of a Led Zeppelin reunion. And I don’t need this English **** in my way."

    I’m not judging him, god rest his soul. Thompson was a fantastic drummer. but it was very uncomfortable, and if I could have left that stage, I would have left, halfway through Stairway... if not earlier. But imagine the coverage of that? Walking off during The Second Coming? Who the **** does Collins think he is? Geldof really would have had something to swear about.

    After what seems like an eternity, we finish. I’m thinking, ‘My god, that was awful. The sooner this is over, the better."

    There’s one more moment of horror. backstage, MTV VJ Alan Hunter is waiting to interview Led Zeppelin. The sweat still damp on our brows, the bad taste still ripe in my mouth, we gather outside the caravan of doom. Back in the studio, he’s teed up the interview with the words: "On a day for reunions, probably the most anticipated is the Led Zeppelin reunion. Now right here, an interview with the reunited members..."

    Hunter starts asking questions, and it’s quickly obvious that nobody is taking him seriously. Robert and Jimmy are being difficult, giving vague, cocky answers to straight questions; John Paul Jones is still quieter than a church mouse. I feel sorry for Hunter. He’s live on air, a worldwide audience is waiting with bated breath, and these guys are making him look like an idiot.

    In a shutting stable door after the horse has bolted style, Led Zeppelin won’t let the performance be included on the official Live Aid DVD. Because, of course, they were ashamed of it. And I find that I am usually the one blamed for it. It couldn’t possibly be the holy Led Zep who were at fault. It was that geezer who came over on Concorde who wasn’t rehearsed. He was the culprit. That show-off.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  4. blackdograilroad

    blackdograilroad Forum Resident

    Devon, UK
    Plant by his own admission was ‘really drunk’, underrehearsed, and his vocal range had shifted since Zeppelin.....
    Page was, umm.....overstimulated, underrehearsed, and had bad monitors....
    JPJ was sellotaped on at the last minute, P&P hadn’t planned to involve him....
    ....and two drummers couldn’t replace Bonham....
  5. Overthehillsandfaraway

    Overthehillsandfaraway Forum Resident


    It was apparently originally supposed to be a case of "now Jimmy is touring again with the Firm, wouldn't it be nice if he and Robert played together at this big event for charity". When it became clear they'd be playing Zep numbers rather than '50s covers a la Honeydrippers, Jones asked to be involved, and between the original invite and the day it morphed with unstoppable momentum from "get together and play some tunes" to "a Zeppelin reunion". Due to everyone's schedule getting rehearsal time was difficult and insufficient, hence..... trainwreck. My understanding of it from various memoirs etc.

    People forget other bands who did it better on the day were working bands who were regularly touring. Queen were a fine tuned rock monster in July 1985. Even Sabbath were still playing minus Ozzy, who I think was playing Sabbath tunes in his solo shows. By contrast the three Zeps may not have even been in the same room since December 1980, before the rehearsal.
  6. bosie

    bosie Forum Resident

    Blame it on The bad BBQ Ribs:laugh:
  7. MikeManaic61

    MikeManaic61 Forum Resident

    Geez louise that was bad! I thought people were over exaggerating the performance but they were right. I couldn't make it through the whole video.
  8. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
    They needed the Zeppelin guitarist but the guy from The Firm showed up.
  9. pinkrudy

    pinkrudy Forum Resident

    i have a bootleg LP of it and i think its overexaggerated. its sloppy and couple mistakes here and there as well. but definitley wasn't what people make the bad legend out to be.
  10. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    Were they good live? I thought the decline had set in before Bonham died, but I'm not an expert.
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  11. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Simcoe County
    I was there that day and I found it electrifying. I was shocked at all the bad press that seemed to come years later.
  12. Zongadude

    Zongadude Music is the best

    They were under-rehearsed ?
  13. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    los angeles
    Sounds like some were on speed and some were falling asleep
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  14. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    I find it kind of strange that Collins is still so bitter about all of this. Also really bad taste to be trashing a dead guy over it. He says "I'm not judging him" but of course he really is.
  15. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident

    A band that felt obliged to reform and be there because of the cause (and they weren't the only ones)....who quite frankly didn't want to be there and thought they could just pop on stage and pull off without any work or effort.
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  16. hoover537

    hoover537 Forum Resident

    The night before the Live Aid appearance. Robert Plant played a sold out show at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Mi. The big rumor all day was that Jimmy Page was flying into Detroit for the show and that Page would show up on stage and it would be a practice run for Live Aid. My buddies and I went in anticipation. Ended up with seats behind the stage. Page never showed up.
  17. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    Golden, CO
    Wow...what a trainwreck! Even when they flashed the credits on the screen, it was "Jimmy Paige"!
  18. Say It Right

    Say It Right Not for the Hearing Impaired

    Niagara Falls
    This is the point that Geldof overdid it with the reunions: The Who, Ozzy with Black Sabbath, Brian Wilson with The Beach Boys...and then Led Zeppelin. The odds favored at least one not working out.

    Oh, and making fuss about anniversaries isn't usually my thing, but tomorrow will 35 years.
  19. talkingischeap

    talkingischeap Well-Known Member

    United Kingdom
    Any band on ANY night can be the worst band. Any band on ANY night can also be the greatest.

    Led Zeppelin were the ****tiest band on that specific day and it just happened to be filmed and remembered because of the event.

    I see why the Rolling Stones rarely do TV things... for this reason.
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  20. moeson

    moeson Forum Resident

    dayton, nj usa
    I recall Plant blaming the monitors.
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  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    The blaming Collins thing was baloney.
    I love Plant, but his Zep voice was gone at that stage.
    Watch the video and you'll see Page almost fall over early on. He was either wasted, or had some other condition, one that involves not trying to perform.
    The set was a fairly sad lowlight, and it had nothing to do with Collins, and everything to do with Zep.... and I love Zep, I have all their stuff and have had since before Live Aid
  22. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    My wife is a huge Queen fan, and on one of the many Queen DVDs/BDs she has is rough video footage of Queen rehearsing their entire Live Aid set. Geldof had warned that no one would be allowed to overrun, so they worked their set out down to the second. It showed on the day!
  23. Say It Right

    Say It Right Not for the Hearing Impaired

    Niagara Falls
    The book was an opportunity to tell his side of the story. It was one of multiple incidents that he addressed.
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  24. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Shambolic thrown-together performance by a bunch of guys who used to be a band. The two drummers thing was a ridiculous idea and obviously they were under-rehearsed. They just thought they could do it all over again by the seat of their pants and they were wrong.
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  25. Dave S

    Dave S Forum Resident

    Phil was right!

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