Jimmy Page criticises Phil Collins' contribution to Led Zeppelin's Live Aid show

Jimmy Page at Live Aid
Jimmy Page at Live Aid in Philadelphia (Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Jimmy Page has admitted that Led Zeppelin's performance at the Live Aid concert in 1985 “was really not very clever”.

Page was speaking at the The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, where he was interviewed in front of an audience of 1200 people about his book Jimmy Page: The Anthology.  

Referring to the contribution of drummer Phil Collins, who famously performed at the Live Aid show in London before flying across The Atlantic the same day to drum alongside Tony Thompson for Led Zeppelin in Philadelphia, Page was quoted in The Times as saying, “We had two hours’ rehearsal, not even that, and the drummer just could not get the beginning of Rock and Roll”. We were in real trouble so that was not very clever."

Page spoke more positively about Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day Reunion in 2007, saying, "A lot could have gone wrong and I didn’t want to be the one making the mistakes, but you prepare for these things and by the time you’re on stage, you go into a trance state. My hairs were standing on end throughout, so I think it was a superb concert. Unfortunately it was only the one show... but there you go."

Phil Collins told his side of the Live Aid story to Classic Rock in 2017, saying, "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."

Earlier this month Genesis were forced to postpone the last four shows of the UK leg of their Last Domino? tour, after one of the band members tested positive for Covid.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.