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06 January 2023

Robert Plant On Phil Collins: “He Was Taking No Prisoners”

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Photo: Rodolfo Sassano/Alamy Stock Photo
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Robert Plant has spoken about living up to Led Zeppelin‘s legacy, the help he received from Phil Collins and memories of Led Zep’s on-the-road hijinks in a new interview with Vulture.

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Plant remembered the period of uncertainty after Led Zeppelin came to an end, “After John passed away and there was no Led Zeppelin, there had to be a way to go. I floundered around a lot because until I was 32, I was in some kind of wild and absurd adventure. I went through all that stuff. I’ll write with other people. It’s a very intimate thing to do. It’s hard for anybody to expose themselves musically. Other people with me, and me with other people. I have a lot of songs under my belt, which I co-wrote with the members of Zeppelin. It was a lot to live up to. I had a lot of people who gave me support and strength around that time, so I suppose the first two albums were driven by great friends.”

The singer went on to credit Phil Collins with helping him emerge as a solo artist, “Phil Collins especially was a driving force and had positive energy with the first record, Pictures at Eleven. It wasn’t a difficult job to get together with other people, it was just whether or not we could cook it properly. With Phil, it wasn’t so much advice as encouragement and consideration. He was taking no prisoners. He would only allow himself a short amount of time to come to the studio in Wales and make it work. Nobody was hiding behind the performance. Then he came on tour with me and basically said, ‘Robert, the guy that sat behind you for all those years was my hero.’ That was it. He said, ‘Anything I can do to help you to get back into fighting shape again, I’m here.’ That was at the time when In the Air Tonight came out. Yet he was still mixing and working with me while kicking off a particularly impressive and successful time indeed, Collins somehow made time to play drums on the majority of Pictures at Eleven’s tracks, as well as serve as Plant’s drummer for the subsequent tour. This was after Collins became an international sensation with Face Value and Genesis’s early-’80s output. for himself. He’s a great spirit, a good man.”

Plant went on to recall some of Led Zeppelin’s on the road adventures, “I remember one time we got on the plane and took off from Dallas to New Orleans. John Bonham was in that period of time where he wore a fedora and a black cane with a silver top. We got up to about 8,000 feet or whatever it was — pretty low. He finds it’s time to quickly visit the bathroom. And as he opened the door, his hat blew off and was sucked down the toilet. There was this great sort of whoosh. The guys that were back down on the airstrip had forgotten to rescrew the chute where the toilets were emptied, so there was a tank underneath the bathroom and they forgot to put the cap back on. There was absolutely no pressure. So John had lost his hat, but then we all lost our minds because we realized that we couldn’t go any higher because our ears were starting to go. [Laughs.] We flew from Dallas to New Orleans at 8,000 feet.

“See, this is the trouble. There are so many movies and so many things I know that are absolutely hysterical. I mean, never mind the mystery. We can do without the mystery and just talk about the crazy things that happened. All’s well that ends well. It was just another night in paradise.”

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