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This is how Phil Collins helped Robert Plant shape his solo career

Podcast 10/12/2019

Robert Plant spoke about how Phil Collins was a key figure in solidifying his solo career post-breakup of Led Zeppelin.

He praised the legendary drummer for helping "absolutely and admirably" as he learnt how to work without his ex-bandmates.

"During the Zep years, I never imagined a full-scale album project with other guys, and even less the idea of new writing partners."

In the latest episode of Plant's Digging Deep podcast, he explained that Collins supported him as he tried to turn an idea into something more meaningful.

"At the end of the '80s, I had no place to go; John [Bonham] was gone," Plant recalled. "So, I formed the Honeydrippers. We used to perform around the clubs of England for no money, and I played with this great band; they were really good players. The driver of our van, his name was Big Dave, used to go to the front door of the club and say, 'Who's playing here tonight?' And if anybody mentioned me, we'd just drive on. It would have to be 'the Honeydrippers', and then we could play our stuff."

After a while, Plant realised that "There's only so many times you can play Gene Vincent songs to 13 people in the Limit Club in Derby." So he decided to put a band together in hopes that they could make a big sound that "sounds big, without it being really, really, heavy and tough."

At first, Plant was intimidated by the expectations of him in the studio as it marked the first time he'd ever been away from affiliations with Led Zeppelin.

I had to really bluff my way through it because I really didn't know studio etiquette, after all that success in Zeppelin

"I really didn't realise just how much patience and concentration you really need in a studio to get people to perform, give you something really, really important – because Zeppelin seemed to roll out in some kind of magical way. It was a real new twist. … I had to really bluff my way through it because I really didn't know studio etiquette, after all that success in Zeppelin. I never really went behind the desk at all, except for to push the vocal effects on the Zeppelin tracks a bit more, here and there."

"I was helped absolutely and admirably by Phil Collins, who came along and said, 'John Bonham was probably the most important influence in my life. I'll sit on that stool for you.'"

While Collins' solo career was becoming increasingly popular, he went on tour with Plant as a member of his band for a month. "We had really great fun. Then he came on tour with us. [Collins] said, 'I can do this for a month,' and that was when In the Air Tonight was just breaking."

"He gave everyone a coating every night on the bus for playing too slow – smooth and cool, you could call the guys, but Phil was having none of it! He'd stand up on the drum riser, sticks in his hands, 'Get it right! Come on, let's go!"