Collins before a Forest National concert in 2007
|Birth name||Philip David Charles Collins|
30 January 1951 |
Hounslow, Middlesex, London, England
|Genres||Rock, pop, progressive rock, jazz fusion, big band|
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, author|
|Instruments||Vocals, drums, various percussion, keyboards, guitar, bass, bagpipes|
|Years active||1968–2011 (hiatus)|
|Associated acts||Genesis, Brand X, Flaming Youth, the Phil Collins Big Band, Lily Collins|
Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins, LVO (born 30 January 1951) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor and writer, best known both as drummer and vocalist for rock group Genesis and as a solo artist. He sang the lead vocals on dozens of hit albums and singles in the UK and the US between 1976 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. His solo singles, sometimes dealing with lost love and often featuring his distinctive gated reverb drum sound, ranged from the atmospheric "In the Air Tonight", dance-rock of "Sussudio", piano-driven power ballad "Against All Odds", to the political and religious connotations of "Another Day in Paradise".
Collins joined Genesis in 1970 as the group's drummer and became their vocalist in 1975 following the departure of their original frontman Peter Gabriel. His solo career, which was launched in 1981 and was heavily influenced by his personal life and soul music, brought both himself and Genesis greater commercial success. Collins's total worldwide sales as a solo artist are 150 million. Collins has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including seven Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards—winning Best British Male three times, three American Music Awards, an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and a Disney Legend Award in 2002 for his solo work. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.
Collins is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. During his most successful period as a solo artist between 1981 and 1990, Collins had three UK number-one singles and seven number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, as well as a US number one with Genesis in 1986. When his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, Collins had more top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s than any other artist. In 2008, Collins was ranked the 22nd most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists".
Although one of the world's best-selling music artists, Collins has garnered significant criticism over the years. He announced his retirement from music in 2011 to focus on his family life, but indicated in 2013 that he was still writing songs and considering a return to music. In 2014, Collins revealed that he was collaborating on new material with Adele.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early career
- 3 Genesis era
- 4 Solo career
- 5 Drums and other equipment
- 6 Career as record producer
- 7 Films, theatre and television
- 8 Criticism
- 9 Personal life
- 10 Activism
- 11 Discography
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Collins was born and raised in Hounslow, London, the son of Winifred M. "June" (née Strange), a theatrical agent, and Greville Philip Austin Collins, an insurance agent. He was given a toy drum kit for Christmas when he was five. Later, his uncle made him a makeshift one that he used regularly. As Collins grew older these were followed by more complete sets bought by his parents. He practiced by playing alongside the television and radio, and never learned to read and write conventional musical notation; instead, he uses a system he devised himself.
His professional training began at 14 when he entered Barbara Speake Stage School. He began a career as a child actor and model, and won his first major role as the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver!. He was an extra in the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, one of hundreds of screaming teenagers during the TV concert sequence and seen fleetingly in a close-up. He was also in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as one of the children who storms the castle at the end of the film, but it was cut. He also auditioned for the role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1968), a role won by fellow Artful Dodger actor Leonard Whiting. Collins was among the last three finalists for the role of I.Q. on the American children's television show The Bugaloos (he lost out to English actor/musician John McIndoe).
Despite the beginnings of an acting career, Collins continued to gravitate towards music. While attending Chiswick Community School he formed a band called the Real Thing and later joined the Freehold. With the latter group, he wrote his first song titled "Lying Crying Dying".
Collins's first record deal came as drummer for Hickory, who changed their name to Flaming Youth by the time of their sole album, Ark 2 (1969). A concept album inspired by the recent media attention surrounding the moon landing, Ark 2 (with Ronnie Caryl, Brian Chatton and Gordon (Flash) Smith), failed to make much commercial success despite positive critical reviews. Melody Maker featured the album as "Pop Album of the Month", describing it as "adult music beautifully played with nice tight harmonies". The album's main single, "From Now On", failed on the radio. After a year of touring, band tensions and the lack of commercial success dissolved the group. In 1970, the 19-year-old Collins played percussion on the George Harrison song "The Art of Dying". Harrison credited him in the liner notes to the remastered CD version of the album released in 2000.
In 1970, Collins answered a Melody Maker classified ad for "...a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and 12-string acoustic guitarist". Genesis placed the ad after having already lost three drummers over two albums. The audition occurred at the home of Peter Gabriel's parents. Prospective candidates performed tracks from the group's second album, Trespass (1970). Collins arrived early, listened to the other auditions while swimming in Gabriel's parents' pool, and memorised the pieces before his turn.
Collins won the audition. Nursery Cryme was released a year later. Although his role remained primarily that of drummer and backing vocalist for the next five years, he twice sang lead vocals: once on "For Absent Friends" (from Nursery Cryme) and once on "More Fool Me" (from Selling England by the Pound).
In 1974, while Genesis were recording the concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Brian Eno (who is credited with "Enossification" for electronic vocal effects on the track "Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging") needed a drummer for his album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). Collins was sent to fill the gap, and played drums in lieu of payment for Eno's work with the band. Collins later contributed drums to the Brian Eno 1975, and 1977 art rock releases Another Green World and Before and After Science.
In 1975, following the final tour supporting the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Gabriel left the group to pursue a solo career. Collins became lead vocalist after a lengthy but ultimately fruitless search for Gabriel's replacement (where he sang back-up with the over 400 hopefuls that reportedly auditioned). To facilitate Collins's new role as the group's lead singer/frontman, Genesis recruited former Yes and King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford to play drums during live shows, although Collins continued to play drums during longer instrumental sections. Bruford's drumming can be heard on the track "The Cinema Show" on the live album Seconds Out. Bruford was soon replaced by ex-Frank Zappa band member Chester Thompson, who became a mainstay of the band's live line-up (as well as Collins's solo back-up band) through the following decades. Collins, however, continued to be the band's exclusive drummer on all of the group's studio recordings.
The first album with Collins as lead vocalist, 1976's A Trick of the Tail, reached the American Top 40, and peaked high as No.3 on the UK charts. Said Rolling Stone, "Genesis has managed to turn the possible catastrophe of Gabriel's departure into their first broad-based American success." Following the recording of Genesis's next album Wind and Wuthering guitarist Steve Hackett left the group to pursue his own solo career. The group decided to continue as a trio for recording with Tony Banks on keyboards and Mike Rutherford playing guitar and bass in the studio, although the line-up was regularly augmented by Chester Thompson and American guitarist Daryl Stuermer for concert tours.
Collins simultaneously performed in a jazz fusion group called Brand X. The band recorded their first album, Unorthodox Behaviour, with Collins as drummer, but because Genesis was Collins's priority, there were several Brand X tours and albums without him. Collins credits Brand X as his first use of a drum machine as well as his first use of a home 8-track tape machine.
Collins also performed on Steve Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, on which he sang lead vocals and played drums. As the decade closed, Genesis began a shift from their progressive rock roots and toward more accessible, radio-friendly pop-rock music. The album ...And Then There Were Three... featured their first UK Top 10 and US Top 40 single, "Follow You Follow Me".
The first track from Genesis's A Trick of the Tail was Collins's début as the group's full-time lead singer. A progressive rock track, it contrasts with the style of his later work.
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In the 1980s, while Collins developed as a songwriter and established a parallel career as a solo artist, Genesis recorded a series of highly successful albums including Duke, Abacab, Genesis and Invisible Touch. The latter album's title track reached No.1 on the American Billboard singles chart, the only Genesis song to do so. The group received a nomination for the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1987 for the single "Land of Confusion" (which featured puppet caricatures created by the British satirical team Spitting Image) but lost out to Peter Gabriel's solo hit, "Sledgehammer". Reviews were generally positive, with Rolling Stone's J. D. Considine stating, "every tune is carefully pruned so that each flourish delivers not an instrumental epiphany but a solid hook."
Collins left Genesis in 1996 to focus on his solo career. The last studio album with him as the lead singer was 1991's We Can't Dance; it was supported by an extensive tour across the world in 1992. He and Gabriel reunited with other Genesis members in 1999 to re-record "The Carpet Crawlers" for Genesis's Turn It On Again: The Hits. When in the mid-2000s discussions of a possible Genesis reunion arose, Collins stated that he would prefer to return as the drummer, with Gabriel handling the vocals. Eventually, Turn It On Again: The Tour was announced for 2007, with the Collins/Rutherford/Banks line-up.
1981–83: Early solo recordings
The dominant theme running through Collins's early solo recordings (although never specifically mentioned in his songs) was the acrimonious breakdown of his first marriage and then-recent divorce. Two songs he wrote on the Genesis album Duke, "Please Don't Ask", and the Top 20 hit "Misunderstanding", dealt with failed relationships. A third track that appeared on Duke, "Behind The Lines" can also be found on Phil's debut solo album, Face Value. One year earlier, he had played drums and contributed backing vocals on John Martyn's Grace and Danger, an album whose main theme is also marriage break-up. With the recording of his first solo album, Face Value, Collins attributed his divorce as his main influence, as can be inferred from songs such as "If Leaving Me Is Easy".
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Collins made his live debut as a solo performer, appearing at the invitation of record producer Martin Lewis at the Amnesty International benefit show, The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the Theatre Royal in London in September 1981, performing two songs from Face Value including "In the Air Tonight" and "The Roof is Leaking" accompanying himself on piano. Face Value became a surprise international success topping the charts in at least seven countries and hitting the top ten of the Billboard 200 eventually going quintuple-platinum in the US. Hits from the album included "In the Air Tonight", "I Missed Again" and "If Leaving Me Is Easy". In 1982, he produced ABBA member Frida's solo album, Something's Going On, which helped to spawn the title track, "I Know There's Something Going On", which became a hit.
Much like Face Value, many of the songs from Collins's 1982 follow-up album, Hello, I Must Be Going!, came from Collins's marital problems with his first wife such as "I Don't Care Anymore" and "Do You Know, Do You Care". Collins’s early albums had a dark presence, usually heavy on the drums. Regarding Face Value, he says, "I had a wife, two children, two dogs, and the next day I didn't have anything. So a lot of these songs were written because I was going through these emotional changes." There were occasional poppier influences–Face Value's "Behind the Lines", for example, was a jazzy remake of a Genesis song he co-wrote. Hello, I Must Be Going! gave him a UK No.1 for his cover of The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love". The album went triple-platinum in the United States. The Supremes' cover was his first Top 10 US hit (it also hit the Top 10 of Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart). The album also reached No.2 on the UK album chart, spending well over a year there.
Two years before, Collins had played drums on Peter Gabriel's third self-titled record (often referred to as Melt), the first record to feature the "gated reverb" sound, which was used on the song "Intruder". Gabriel reportedly "didn't want any metal on the record" and asked Collins to leave his cymbals at home, to concentrate on the sound of his kit more heavily than usual. Studio engineer Hugh Padgham augmented the drum sound by using a microphone normally intended for studio communication rather than recording and feeding it through a signal processor called a noise gate. This allowed the reverberation added to the drums to be suddenly cut off before it naturally decayed. The result was the arresting "gated reverb" which became Collins's signature sound. This was the same 'big drum sound' used on such songs as "In The Air Tonight", "Mama" by Genesis, and Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad's "I Know There's Something Going On."
1984–91: Mid-career – Massive worldwide success
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Collins changed his musical style with the release of the ballad, "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)", which was the main theme song for the movie of the same name in 1984. The more pop-friendly and radio-accessible single became Collins's first solo single to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and gave him his first Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Later that year, Collins contributed to production on Earth, Wind & Fire singer Phillip Bailey's third album, Chinese Wall, collaborating with Bailey on the hit duet, "Easy Lover". Collins contributed vocals and drums to Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas", which reached number one in the UK. Collins released his most successful album, the Diamond-certified No Jacket Required, which reached number one in U.S. in the summer of 1985. It contained the U.S. number one hits "One More Night" and "Sussudio" as well as the top ten hits "Don't Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home". It also contains the less known yet equally robust "Who Said I Would", and "Only You Know and I Know". The album featured Sting, Helen Terry and ex-bandmate Peter Gabriel as backing vocalists. He also recorded the successful song "Separate Lives", a duet with Marilyn Martin, and a US number one, for the movie White Nights. Collins had three US number-one songs in 1985, the most by any artist that year. No Jacket Required went on to win three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.
No Jacket Required received criticism that the album was too safe, despite its upbeat reviews and commercial success. A positive review by David Fricke of Rolling Stone ended, "After years on the art-rock fringe, Collins has established himself firmly in the middle of the road. Perhaps he should consider testing himself and his new fans' expectations next time around." "Sussudio" also drew criticism for sounding too similar to Prince's "1999", a charge that Collins did not deny. Nevertheless, the album went straight to No. 1 in the US and UK. In 1985, Collins was invited by Bob Geldof to perform at the Live Aid charity event. Collins had the distinction of being the only performer to appear at both the UK concert at Wembley Stadium and the US concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia; he performed his solo songs "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" and "In the Air Tonight". He accomplished this by performing early in the day at Wembley as both a solo artist and alongside Sting, then transferring to a Concorde flight to the US enabling him to perform his solo material, and drum for Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton in Philadelphia. While being a guest on major artists' hit recordings, Collins continued to enjoy solo success even while on tour with Genesis (supporting their successful album Invisible Touch) besides from his number-one duet with Marilyn Martin in 1985, Collins would score two more hits from movies with the singles, "Two Hearts" (No.1 US, No.6 UK), and "Groovy Kind of Love" (No.1 UK, No.1 US), the latter two from the soundtrack of his feature film, Buster. In 1986, Collins won the first two of his six Brit Awards for Best British Male and Best British Album for No Jacket Required.
In 1989, Collins produced another successful album, ...But Seriously, featuring the anti-homelessness anthem "Another Day in Paradise", with David Crosby on backing vocals. (Collins later went on to co-write, sing and play on the song "Hero" on Crosby's 1993 album Thousand Roads.) "Another Day in Paradise" went to Number 1 on the Billboard Charts at the end of 1989, won Collins Best British Single at the Brit Awards in 1990, and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1991; it was also one of the most successful singles of all time in Germany. In the process, it became the last No.1 US pop hit of the 1980s. The album ...But Seriously became the first No.1 US album of the 1990s and the best-selling album of 1990 in the UK. Other songs included "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" (No.4 US, No.15 UK), "Do You Remember?" (not released in the UK, but a No.4 hit in the US), and "I Wish It Would Rain Down" (the latter featuring Eric Clapton on guitar) (No.3 US, No.7 UK). Songs about apartheid and homelessness demonstrated Collins’s turn to politically driven material. This theme recurred on his later albums. A live album, Serious Hits... Live!, followed, which reached top ten around the world. In September 1990, Collins performed "Sussudio" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Collins also played drums on the 1989 Tears for Fears hit "Woman in Chains".
1992–2008: Later solo work and Genesis reunion
After a hiatus of five years, Genesis reconvened for the 1991 album release We Can't Dance, which was to be Collins's last studio album with the group. The album features the hit singles "Jesus He Knows Me", "I Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine" and "Hold on My Heart". In 1992 Collins toured with Genesis in the We Can't Dance tour where they played to stadiums around the world, including Giants Stadium in New Jersey. At the 1993 American Music Awards on 25 January, Genesis won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group.
Collins's record sales began to drop with the 1993 release of Both Sides, a largely experimental album that, according to Collins, included songs that "were becoming so personal, so private, I didn't want anyone else's input". Featuring a less polished sound and fewer up-tempo songs than his previous albums, Both Sides was a significant departure. Collins used no backing musicians, performed all the vocal and instrumental parts at his home studio, and used rough vocal takes for the final product. The album was not well received by radio. Its two biggest hits were "Both Sides of the Story" and "Everyday". Collins worked on the album completely independently of his record company, and took them by surprise when he delivered them a completed album that they were unaware he was making.
Collins officially parted ways with Genesis in 1996 to focus on his solo career (Genesis would produce one album without Collins—...Calling All Stations...—before going on hiatus). Collins attempted a return to pop music with Dance into the Light, which Entertainment Weekly reviewed by saying that "even Phil Collins must know that we all grew weary of Phil Collins". It included minor hits such as the title track and the Beatles-inspired "It's in Your Eyes". Although the album went Gold in the US, it sold considerably less than his previous albums. Despite this, the subsequent tour regularly sold out arenas.
In 1996, Collins formed the Phil Collins Big Band. With Collins as drummer, the band performed jazz renditions of various Collins and Genesis hits. The Phil Collins Big Band did a world tour in 1998 that included a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 1999, the group released the CD A Hot Night in Paris including big band versions of "Invisible Touch", "Sussudio", and the more obscure "The Los Endos Suite" from A Trick of the Tail. On 15 September 1997, Collins appeared at the Music for Montserrat concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, performing alongside artists such as Sting, Mark Knopfler, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney.
A compilation album ...Hits was released in 1998 and sold very well, returning Collins to multi-platinum status in America. The album's sole new track, a cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit "True Colors", received considerable play on US Adult Contemporary stations while peaking at No.2. Some of Collins's earlier hits (e.g. "I Missed Again", "If Leaving Me Is Easy", etc.) and other successes were not included in this compilation.
Collins's next single, "You'll Be in My Heart", from the Disney animated movie Tarzan, spent 19 weeks at No.1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart – the longest time ever up to that point. The song won Collins an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award both for Best Original Song. It was his third nomination in the songwriters' category, after being nominated in 1985 and 1989. Collins was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on 16 June 1999.
In 2002, Collins released Testify. Metacritic's roundup of album reviews found this record to be the worst-reviewed album at the time of its release, though it has since been "surpassed" by three more recent releases. The album's "Can't Stop Loving You" (a Leo Sayer cover) was yet another No. 1 Adult Contemporary smash hit for Collins. Testify sold 140,000 copies in the United States by year's end, although a successful worldwide tour followed.
That same year, Collins accepted an invitation to drum for the "house band" at a concert celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. In 2003, he announced his last solo tour – the "First Final Farewell Tour", a tongue-in-cheek reference to the multiple farewell tours of other popular artists. In 2006, he worked with Disney on a Broadway production of Tarzan.
After much speculation regarding a Genesis reunion, Collins reunited with Banks and Rutherford and announced Turn It On Again: The Tour on 7 November 2006, nearly 40 years after the band first formed. The tour took place during summer 2007, and played twelve countries across Europe, followed by a second leg in North America. During the tour Genesis performed at the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium, London. Following the band's performance, presenter Jonathan Ross had to apologise to viewers watching the televised version as Collins had used a swear word while singing "Invisible Touch". In 2007, the band were honourees at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, with the band performing "Turn It On Again", "No Son of Mine" and "Los Endos" at the ceremony in Las Vegas.
2009–12: Going Back, retirement and Alamo collection
In October 2009, it was reported that Collins was to record a Motown covers album. He told a German newspaper, "I want the songs to sound exactly like the originals", and that the album would feature up to 30 songs. In January 2010, Chester Thompson said that the album had been completed and would be released some time soon. He also revealed that Collins managed to play the drums on the album despite the adverse effects of his recent spinal operation. It was the first solo album Collins had recorded which consisted entirely of songs written by other people.
Going Back was released on 13 September 2010, entering the UK charts at number 4, rising to number one the following week. In early summer 2010, Collins played six concerts entirely dedicated to the music from Going Back. These included a special programme, Phil Collins: One Night Only, which was broadcast on ITV1 on 18 September 2010. Collins also promoted Going Back with his first and only appearance on the BBC's foremost music series Later... with Jools Holland, broadcast on 17 September 2010.
In March 2010, Collins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis at a ceremony in New York. As of January 2011, Collins has spent 1,730 weeks in German music charts – 766 weeks of them with Genesis albums and singles and 964 weeks with solo releases.
Citing health problems and other concerns, Collins announced on 4 March 2011 that he was taking time off from his career, prompting widespread reports of his retirement. Days later, on 7 March, his UK representative told the press, "He is not, has no intention of, retiring." However, later that day, Collins posted a message to his fans on his own website, confirming his intention to retire to focus on his family life. In November 2013, Collins told German media that he was considering a return to music and speculated that this could mean further live shows with Genesis, stating: "Everything is possible. We could tour in Australia and South America. We haven't been there yet." Speaking to reporters in Miami, Florida, in December 2013 at an event promoting his charity work, Collins indicated that he is writing music once again and might possibly tour again, though he did not relish being subjected to the harsh critical reception his music has received over the years if he did decide to return to the studio and stage.
In the early 2010s, Collins became involved with researching the Battle of the Alamo in Texas, United States, including authoring a book (see Activism section). In July 2012, Collins greatest hits collection ...Hits, re-entered the US charts, reaching number 6 on the Billboard 200.
On 24 January 2014, Collins announced in an interview with Inside South Florida that he is writing new compositions with English musician Adele. He said that "I've just started to work with Adele." Collins told the publication that he had no idea who Adele was when he first learned she wanted to collaborate with him. He said "I wasn't actually too aware [of her]. I live in a cave." Collins then agreed to join her in the studio after hearing her voice. Collins said that "[She] achieved an incredible amount. I really love her voice. I love some of this stuff she's done, too." It is still unknown whether the collaboration is for an Adele or a Collins release.
Drums and other equipment
Collins uses Gretsch drums and Sabian cymbals. Drums (all single headed concert toms except for the snare): 20" Bass Drum, 18" Floor Tom, 16" Floor Tom, 15" Mounted Tom, 12" Tom, 10" Tom, 8" Tom, 14"x4" Snare, 14" Phil Collins Special.
Cymbals: HH Medium Crash 20" – HH Extra Thin Crash 17" – Hi-Hats 15" – HH China 20" – HH Medium-Thin Crash 16" -HH China 22" – HH Raw Bell Dry Ride 21".
Until 1986, Collins played Paiste and Zildjian cymbals. Other drums he's used over the years are Premier, Noble & Cooley, Pearl, Fibes and Simmons electronic drums. He uses a Ludwig Speed King pedal and Pro Mark sticks. Collins plays his kit left-handed.
Other instruments which have become synonymous with Collins's sound (particularly in his post-1978 Genesis and subsequent solo career) include the Roland CR-78 and Roland TR-808 drum machines, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesiser, the Yamaha CP-70 electric grand piano, the Yamaha DX7 synthesiser, Oberheim DMX drum machine (as heard on Sussudio), Korg Wavestation, Korg Karma, Korg Trinity, Korg 01/W, Korg M1R and Korg Triton synthesisers, Roland JD800, Roland JV1080 and Roland D50 synthesisers, Emu Emulator 2 and Emu Emulator 3 sample workstations and the Roland VP330 vocoder (as heard on "In the Air Tonight").
Career as record producer
For his solo career and his career with Genesis, Collins produced or co-produced virtually all of his singles and albums, the notable exceptions being "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (produced by Arif Mardin), and his cover of "True Colors" (produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.)
Collins also maintained a career as a producer for other artists throughout the 1980s, usually working on outside projects at the rate of one artist per year. His first outside work as a producer was the 1981 album Glorious Fool for John Martyn; he followed that up by producing Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad (Frida Lyngstad of ABBA)'s 1982 album Something's Going On, which contained the international hit "I Know There's Something Going On."
In 1983, Collins producing two tracks for Adam Ant, both of which hit the UK charts: "Puss 'N' Boots" and "Strip". ("Strip" was a minor US hit as well.) In 1984, he produced Phillip Bailey's album Chinese Wall, from which the hit Bailey/Collins duet "Easy Lover" was drawn. This album also contained the Bailey hit "Walking on the Chinese Wall".
In 1985, Collins produced several tracks on the Eric Clapton album Behind The Sun. The following year, he produced (in collaboration with Hugh Padgham) one track for Howard Jones, the international hit "No One Is to Blame", for which he also played drums.
Returning to work with Clapton, Collins was one of the producers on his 1987 album August. The UK top 20 single "Behind The Mask" was drawn from this album, and this particular track credited production to "Phil Collins in association with Tom Dowd."
In 1988, Collins and Lamont Dozier collaborated as writers and producers of the Four Tops top 10 UK hit "Loco in Acapulco", which was taken from the soundtrack of the film Buster, in which Collins starred. Finally, in 1989, Collins was one of the producers of the Stephen Bishop album Bowling in Paris, which included the US Adult Contemporary hit "Walking on Air", produced by Collins and Padgham.
Films, theatre and television
The majority of Collins's film work has been through music. Four of his seven American number-one songs came from film soundtracks, and his work on Disney's Tarzan earned him an Oscar. Collins even sang German, Italian, Spanish and French versions of the Tarzan soundtrack for the respective film versions. Collins's acting career has been brief. As a child, he appeared in three films, although two of the films were for brief moments as an extra. Besides the aforementioned A Hard Day's Night (1964), Collins's first lead role was in a children's film Calamity the Cow (1967).
Collins wrote and performed the title song to Against All Odds in 1984. The song became the first of his seven American number-one songs and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. Collins was not invited to perform the song at that year's presentation, although he was in the audience as the song's composer. Collins had arranged his US tour to accommodate the possibility of appearing on the telecast in the event his song was nominated for an Oscar. It is believed that the producers of that year's Academy Awards show were not aware of his prominence as a musical performer. A note to Collins's label from telecast co-producer Larry Gelbart explaining the lack of invitation stated, "Thank you for your note regarding Phil Cooper [sic]. I'm afraid the spots have already been filled". Collins instead watched Ann Reinking perform his song. For a long time afterwards, he would introduce his performance of "Against All Odds" at his concerts by saying: "Miss Ann Reinking's not here tonight, so I guess I'll have to sing my own song".
As a vocalist, Collins sang Stephen Bishop's composition "Separate Lives" for the film White Nights (1985) as a duet with Marilyn Martin. The single of the recording became another number-one hit for Collins. The song itself was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song (a category that honours the composer, not the vocalists). Bishop's song had parallels to some of the songs on Collins's first two albums. Writer Stephen Bishop noted that he was inspired by a failed relationship and called "Separate Lives" "a song about anger". When the song was being nominated for an Academy Award, in interviews about the original snub by the Academy for "Against All Odds", Collins would jokingly say "the hell with him – I'm going up too," referring to if Bishop's song were to win the award.
Collins's first film role since becoming a musician came in 1988 with Buster about the Great Train Robbery, which took place in England in August 1963. Reviews for the film were mixed but Collins's performance received good reviews and he contributed four songs to the film's soundtrack. His rendition of "Groovy Kind of Love", originally a 1966 single by the Mindbenders, with lyrics by Toni Wine and music by Carole Bayer Sager, but with the melody of the Rondo section of Muzio Clementi's "Sonatina in G major", op. 36 no. 5 reached number one. The film also spawned the hit single "Two Hearts", which he wrote in collaboration with legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier; the two artists would go on to win a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and receive an Oscar nomination in the same category, the second such honour for Collins; "Big Noise", written by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier, which included Collins on vocals (although the song was not released as a single, an instrumental version of this song appeared as the B-side to the single version of "A Groovy Kind of Love"). The final song, "Loco in Acapulco", was another collaboration between him and Dozier, with the vocals performed by the legendary Motown group the Four Tops. Film critic Roger Ebert said the role of Buster was "played with surprising effectiveness" by Collins, although the film's soundtrack proved more successful than the film did.
Collins had cameo appearances in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991) and the AIDS docudrama And the Band Played On (1993). He starred in 1993's Frauds, which competed for the Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. He supplied voices to two animated features: Amblin's Balto (1995) and Disney's The Jungle Book 2 (2003). A long-discussed but never completed project was a film titled The Three Bears; originally meant to star him alongside Danny DeVito and Bob Hoskins, he often mentioned the film, though an appropriate script never materialised.
Collins performed the soundtrack to the animated film Tarzan (1999) for the Walt Disney Company. Collins won an Academy Award for "You'll Be in My Heart", which he performed at that year's telecast as well as during a Disney-themed Super Bowl halftime show. The song, which he also recorded in Spanish among other languages, became his only appearance on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks. Disney hired him, along with Tina Turner, in 2003 for the soundtrack to another animated feature film, Brother Bear, and had some airplay with the song "Look Through My Eyes".
Collins's music is mocked in the satirical black comedy film American Psycho, with lead character Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) portrayed as an obsessive fan who reads deep meaning into his work, especially with Genesis, while describing his solo music as "more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way".
On television, he twice hosted the Billboard Music Awards. He also appeared in an episode of the series Miami Vice, entitled "Phil the Shill", in which he plays a cheating con-man. He also guest starred in several sketches with The Two Ronnies. Most recently, he had a cameo appearance on the television series Whoopi.
In 2001, Collins was sought out by the satirist Chris Morris, and appeared in the Brass Eye 'Paedophile Special' endorsing a spoof charity called 'Nonce Sense'. At one point Collins, dressed in a matching baseball cap and t-shirt emblazoned with the name of this fictitious charity, stares into the camera and declares: "I'm talking Nonce-sense."
In 2005 Disney's Tarzan was adapted for Broadway. Collins contributed 11 new songs and instrumental pieces, and was deeply involved in the production. Unlike the film, where Collins sang all the material, the characters sang on stage.
Collins made an appearance as himself in the 2006 PSP and PS2 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Set in 1984, he appears in three missions in which the main character, Victor, must save him from a gang that is trying to kill him, the final mission occurring during his concert, where the player must defend the scaffolding against saboteurs while Phil is simultaneously performing "In the Air Tonight." After this, the player is given the opportunity to watch this performance of "In the Air Tonight" for only 6,000 dollars in the game. "In the Air Tonight" was also featured in the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and it was also featured in the film Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, the 2009 movie The Hangover and the 2007 Gorilla commercial for Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. The advertisement also helped the song re-enter the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart at number three in July 2008, the following week reaching number one, beating its original 1981 No.6 peak. "In the Air Tonight" was also sampled in the song "I Can Feel It" (on which Collins was credited as a featured artist) on Sean Kingston's self-titled debut album. Phil Collins had several ties to the hit show Miami Vice with 5 songs used in the course of the series as well as having starred in the episode "Phil The Shill."
Phil Collins was portrayed in the hit cartoon South Park in the episode "Timmy 2000" holding his Oscar throughout, referring to his 1999 win for "You'll Be in My Heart", which defeated "Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. He was seen again in the episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime".
Collins has attracted a great deal of negative press. In 2000, the BBC noted that "critics sneer at him" and "bad publicity also caused problems" which "damaged his public profile". In 2009, journalist Mark Lawson observed: "Collins has had to endure two very different profiles in the media. Originally pop's Mr. Nice Guy, patron saint of ordinary blokes, he has more recently been accused of blandness, tax exile and ending a marriage by sending a fax." Collins has confessed that some of the divorce-related correspondence between himself and second wife, Jill Tavelman, was by fax (an obscene message, sent by Collins regarding access to their daughter, was reproduced for the front cover of The Sun in 1993). Since the story published in The Sun, the British media has often claimed Collins divorced his wife by fax, something he has denied. Collins has also been the victim of scathing remarks in regard to his alleged political leanings. Caroline Sullivan, a music critic of The Guardian, referred to the negative publicity around Collins in her article "I wish I'd never heard of Phil Collins" in 2007, claiming it was difficult for her to hear Collins's work "without being riven by distaste for the man himself." Referring to the ironic usage of his songs in the film American Psycho, Tom Service, also a critic for The Guardian, described Collins's music as "perfectly vacuous" and "un-stomachable", and stated that lead character Patrick Bateman's paeans to his songs "reveal a precise if ironic correlative between the murderous vacuity of the music and the breathtaking cynicism of Bateman's killings to which they are the soundtrack." Service described his 1985 album No Jacket Required as "unlistenable to today", arguing that "there's no colder or more superficial sound in popular music" than the hit single "Sussudio".
Collins was subjected to acerbic comments in the press following reports about his retirement in 2011. He was dubbed "the most hated man in rock" by the UK's Daily Telegraph. Rolling Stone journalist John Dioso acknowledged "the incredible, overwhelming popularity" Collins and Genesis achieved, but asserted that he had become "a negative figure in the music world" and that the reaction to his legacy was strongly unfavourable. Tim Chester of the New Musical Express alluded to the widespread disdain for Collins in an article titled, "Is It Time We All Stopped Hating Phil Collins?" Chester described Collins as "the go-to guy for ironic appreciation and guilty pleasures" and claimed he was responsible for "some moments of true genius (often accompanied, it must be said, by some real stinkers)." However, Chester also argued that "Genesis turned shit at the precise point he jumped off the drum stool" to replace the departing Peter Gabriel as frontman, and said of the unrelenting derision he has suffered: "a lot of it he brings on himself." Collins has acknowledged the "very vocal element" of Genesis fans who believe that the group sold out under his leadership. Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone commented: "He has been called 'the Antichrist', the sellout who took Peter Gabriel's Genesis, that paragon of prog-rock, and turned it into a lame-o pop act and went on to make all those supercheesy hits that really did define the 1980s." However, he did express disapproval of the widespread criticism Collins has received, suggesting that he has been "unfairly and inexplicably vilified".
Collins concedes his status as a figure of contempt for many people and has claimed that his music was overplayed. In 2011, he asserted: "The fact that people got so sick of me wasn't really my fault...It's hardly surprising that people grew to hate me. I'm sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn't mean it to happen like that!" Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher has made multiple public criticisms of Collins, about which the latter says he has "at times, been very down". Singer-songwriter and political activist Billy Bragg has also criticized Collins for writing "Another Day in Paradise", stating: "Phil Collins might write a song about the homeless, but if he doesn't have the action to go with it he's just exploiting that for a subject." Responding to reports circulating about his retirement in 2011, Collins dismissed the notion that his departure from the music industry was due to negative attention, and claimed small parts of conversations had been made into headlines. He said: "I have ended up sounding like a tormented weirdo who thinks he was at the [Battle of the] Alamo in another life, who feels very sorry for himself, and is retiring hurt because of the bad press over the years. None of this is true." In 2013, Dave Simpson of The Guardian made an impassioned defence of Collins; while acknowledging "few pop figures have become as successful and yet reviled as Phil Collins", Simpson argued "it's about time we recognised Collins's vast influence as one of the godfathers of popular culture."
Each of Collins's three marriages have ended in divorce. He married Canadian Andrea Bertorelli in 1975. They met as students in a drama class in London. They had a son, Simon Collins, who later became a singer and drummer. Collins adopted Bertorelli's daughter Joely Collins, a Canadian actress.
Collins married his third wife, Orianne Cevey, in 1999. They have two sons, Nicholas and Matthew. They bought Sir Jackie Stewart's former house located in Begnins, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva. Announcing their separation on 16 March 2006, they were divorced on 17 August 2008. Collins has said he will continue to live in Switzerland to be near the children. He is currently residing in Féchy, while also maintaining homes in New York and Dersingham, Norfolk. Collins stated in 2010 that he had no intention of marrying again.
On 29 March 2000, Phil Collins launched a case against two former musicians from his band to recoup £500,000 ($780,000) in royalties that were overpaid. Louis Satterfield, 62, and Rahmlee Davis, 51, claimed their contract entitled them to 0.5 per cent of the royalties from Serious Hits... Live!, a live album recorded during Collins's Seriously, Live! World Tour tour in 1990. Their claim was they were an integral part of the whole album, but Collins responded the two should only receive royalties from the five tracks in which they were involved. Instead of asking for a return of what Collins considered overpayment, he sought to recoup the funds by withholding future royalties to Satterfield and Davis, which amounted to less than an annual sum of £12,500 ($20,000) each.
On 19 April 2000, the High Court ruled that the two musicians would receive no more royalty money from Phil Collins. The amount that Collins was seeking was halved, and Satterfield and Davis (who originally brought the suit forward in California) would not have to repay any of it. The judge agreed with Collins's argument that Satterfield and Davis should have been paid for only the five tracks on which they performed, including the hit "Sussudio".
Collins reported losing his hearing in his left ear in 2000 due to a viral infection. In September 2009, it was reported that Collins could no longer play drums, due to a recent operation to repair dislocated vertebrae in his neck. A statement from Collins on the Genesis band website said, "There isn't any drama regarding my 'disability' and playing drums. Somehow during the last Genesis tour I dislocated some vertebrae in my upper neck and that affected my hands. After a successful operation on my neck, my hands still can't function normally. Maybe in a year or so it will change, but for now it is impossible for me to play drums or piano. I am not in any 'distressed' state; stuff happens in life." However, in 2010 Collins alluded to feelings of depression and low self-esteem in recent years, claiming in an interview that he had been tempted to end his life but resisted for the sake of his children.
Collins has received several honorary doctorates in recognition of his work in music and also for his personal interests. In 1987, he received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 1991, he received an honorary doctorate of music at the Berklee College of Music. Then on 12 May 2012, he received an honorary doctorate of history at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, for his research and collection of Texas Revolution artefacts and documents (see Activism section).
Collins has often been mentioned erroneously in the British media as being a supporter of the Conservative Party and an opponent of the Labour Party. This derives from the famous article in The Sun, printed on the day of the 1992 UK general election, titled "If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights", which claimed that Collins was among several celebrities who were planning to leave Britain in the event of a Labour victory. Shortly before the 2005 election (when Collins was living in Switzerland), Labour supporter Noel Gallagher was quoted: "Vote Labour. If you don't and the Tories get in, Phil Collins is threatening to come back and live here. And let's face it, none of us want that." However, Collins has since stated that although he did once claim many years earlier that he might leave Britain if most of his income was taken in tax, which was Labour Party policy at that time for top earners, he has never been a Conservative Party supporter and he left Britain for Switzerland in 1994 purely because he met a woman who lived there. He said of Gallagher: "I don’t care if he likes my music or not. I do care if he starts telling people I’m a wanker because of my politics. It’s an opinion based on an old misunderstood quote." Despite his claim that he did not leave Britain for tax purposes, he was one of several super-rich figures living in tax havens who were singled out for criticism in a report by the charity Christian Aid in 2008. The Independent included Collins as one of their "ten celebrity tax exiles", erroneously claiming Collins had left the country when Labour won the 1997 general election and that Collins threatened to return if the Conservatives won in 2005. Referring to the 1997 general election in his article "Famous men and their misunderstood politics" for MSN, Hugh Wilson stated: "Labour won it in a landslide, which just goes to show the influence pop stars really wield", and claimed, "It lead to accusations of hypocrisy - Collins is the singer who bemoaned the plight of the homeless in the song Another Day in Paradise, after all." Wilson also noted: "It also made him an easy target when future elections came round." Questioned about his politics by Mark Lawson in an interview broadcast in 2009, Collins said: "My father was Conservative but it wasn't quite the same, I don't think, when he was alive. Politics never loomed large in our family anyway. I think the politics of the country were very different then."
Collins was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in 1994 in recognition of his work on behalf of the Prince's Trust. Collins has stated he is a supporter of animal rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In 2005, he donated an autographed drumstick in support of PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Collins also has a long-standing interest in the Alamo. He has collected hundreds of artefacts related to the famous 1836 battle in San Antonio, Texas, narrated a light and sound show about the Alamo, and spoken at related events. His passion for the Battle of the Alamo has also led him to write the book The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey, ISBN 978-1-93-333750-0, published in 2012. A short film is due to be released in 2013 called Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier which captures Collins on a book tour in June 2012.
In February 2000, Collins and his third wife Orianne founded the Little Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to "realise the dreams of children in the fields of sports and art" by providing future prodigies aged 4 to 16 years with financial, material, and mentoring support with the help of experts in various fields. Collins was inspired to found Little Dreams after receiving letters from children asking him how they could break into the music industry. Mentors to the students who have benefitted from Little Dreams have included singers Tina Turner and Natalie Cole. In 2013, Collins visited Miami Beach, Florida, to promote the expansion of Little Dreams.
Collins supports the South African charity the Topsy Foundation, which provides relief services to some of South Africa's most under-resourced rural communities through a multi-faceted approach to the consequences of HIV and AIDS and extreme poverty. He donates all royalties earned in South Africa to the organisation.
- Ark 2 (1969)
For a full albums list, see Brand X discography
- Unorthodox Behaviour (1976) US No. 191
- Moroccan Roll (1977) – UK #37 US No. 125
- Livestock (1977) US No. 204
- Product (1979) US No. 165
- Do They Hurt? (1980) US No. 204
- Is There Anything About? (1982) – UK #93
The following list includes all Phil Collins's studio albums. For a full solo albums list, see Collins's Albums discography.
- Face Value (1981)
- Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982)
- No Jacket Required (1985)
- ...But Seriously (1989)
- Both Sides (1993)
- Dance into the Light (1996)
- Testify (2002)
- Going Back (2010)
The following list includes all Phil Collins's live albums. For a full solo albums list, see Collins's Albums discography.
- Serious Hits... Live! (1990)
Number one singles
|1982||"You Can't Hurry Love"||1||10|
|1984||"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"||2||1|
|1985||"Easy Lover" (With Philip Bailey)||1||2|
|"One More Night"||4||1|
|"Separate Lives" (With Marilyn Martin)||4||1|
|1988||"A Groovy Kind of Love"||1||1|
|1989||"Another Day in Paradise"||2||1|
"In the Air Tonight" re-entered the New Zealand charts in 2008 at No.3 and then peaked at No.1, after featuring in a Cadbury Gorilla advertisement.
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- GRO Register of Marriages: AUG 1984 17 1515 SURREY SW -Philip D. C. Collins = Jill Tavelman
- GRO Register of Births: APR 1989 17 1579 SURREY SW, Lily Jane Collins, mmn = Tavelman
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phil Collins.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Phil Collins|
- Official website
- Phil Collins at Atlantic Records
- Genesis' official website
- Little Dreams Foundation, project of Phil Collins and his former wife Orianne, supporting young musicians
- Phil Collins at the Internet Movie Database
- Tarzan at the Internet Broadway Database