Monday, July 13, 2009

Nile Rodgers reflects on Tony Thompson guest spot at Live Aid

Today's the 24th anniversary of Live Aid, and Nile Rodgers has just shared with me a short reflection on the lineup his late former bandmate in Chic, Tony Thompson, started that day.

As we know, Thompson sat in with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. As we also know, they had little time for rehearsals before the show, and Page in fact amped up his guitar for the prime time set without even having it tuned first. Not to mention, the four were joined on a second drum set by Phil Collins and also by Paul Martinez, who was Plant's bass player at the time.

Take out those extra superfluous people, and you have yourself a fourpiece lineup that may have very well been the next coming of Led Zeppelin the following year. Rolling Stone broke the story in 1986 that Page, Plant and Jones were rehearsing with Thompson. The former Led Zeppelin members, with their past experiences, viewed it as a bad omen and too much like events of the dark past when Thompson was injured in a car crash during their rehearsal stage, and the lineup retired before anything came off the ground.

Just the fact that they attempted anything like this in 1986 shows there must have been some magic present among the four of them. Guitarist Nile Rodgers was already close to the Zeppelin boys, having been a part of the production team behind The Honeydrippers EP with Plant and that also included Page. Now with ample time to reflect over the nearly two-and-a-half decades that have elapsed since Live Aid, Rodgers spoke to me today, offering the following words about the brief chance Led Zeppelin had to fly again with his close friend and colleague, Tony Thompson, on drums.

Rodgers says:
To see Tony Thompson playing at Live Aid with one of my favorite groups of all time, Led Zeppelin, was a dream come true. I know he had to struggle through the gig because of the near fatal accident he had suffered, but like the troopers all CHIC alumni are, he hit the skins as hard as his body could deliver. It brought tears to my eyes. I love and miss him. How great is music? Who'd believe some unknown black guys from NYC could wind up being life long friends with arguably the greatest Rock band ever (in my humble opinion).

I'm a permanent member of the Honeydrippers with Robert Plant, and we speak on a semi regular basis. I respect Jimmy, John Paul Jones (the unsung hero of the band), and Little Jason Bonham stepped up to deliver the goods at the Ahmet Ertegun tribute in London after his death. Tony Thompson was one of the greatest drummers ever, and that night was history.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I didn't want to assume the books I had that mentioned the accident were wrong; after all, Nile and Tony were great friends and he was there. I was five years old. So I followed up with Nile today and he said this:

    "Hey man, I'm not sure. I thought it happened in Capri, but we weren't in close touch then so you could know more than I about the date. I do know of an accident that happened here in NYC while he was driving up eight avenue, but you should use the history you know. The NY accident may not have even been filed because of no-fault insurance."


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