After the death of founding member John Bonham and the public disbandment of Led Zeppelin in 1980, the thought of continuing on weighed heavily on singer Robert Plant.
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In early December 1980, following the untimely passing of drummer John Bonham two months prior, a press statement signed by Led Zeppelin revealed that "[The band] wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
Speaking with Vulture in a new interview, former Led Zep singer Robert Plant says at the time he knew he had to continue on, and even had plenty of musician pals to complete a solo album, but was unsure if what resulted would ultimately be up to snuff.
"After John [Bonham] passed away and there was no Led Zeppelin, there had to be a way to go,” Plant says. “I floundered around a lot because until I was 32, I was in some kind of wild and absurd adventure…" Phil Collins of Genesis, who had been through a similar situation after the departure of Peter Gabriel a few years earlier, and performed on a number of tracks on Robert's first solo album, Plant explains, "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."
He adds, “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.”
Collins would go on to hit the road with Plant as he brought his solo material to the masses, and even shared his unwavering support for anything Robert decided to do. “[He] basically said, ‘Robert, the guy that sat behind you for all those years was my hero,'” Plant remembers Collins telling him about his love of Led Zeppelin's late drummer. "That was it. He said, ‘Anything I can do to help you to get back into fighting shape again, I’m here…’" Robert adds, "He’s a great spirit, a good man."
While Phil Collins had no problem dusting off the hits for a "final" Genesis tour in 2022, don't go checking for Led Zeppelin tickets any time soon. Robert Plant has stated numerous times that he's not that interested in a reunion, telling the L.A. Times last summer, "Going back to the font to get some kind of massive applause... it doesn’t really satisfy my need to be stimulated."
Check out "Burning Down One Side," the lead track on Robert Plant's 1982 solo debut Pictures At Eleven, featuring Phil Collins on the skins below.
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