Collins played trombone in high school and started on drums at that time as well. He studied with Sam Ulano during 1953-57 and began gigging in New York City, playing with Hot Lips Page, Cootie Williams, Eddie Bonnemere, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Smith, Carmen McRae, Cab Calloway, and Roy Eldridge. he played with J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Later in the 1950s Collins became increasingly interested in the nascent free jazz scene, in addition to playing with more traditional ensembles. He worked with Herbie Mann from 1959 and later with Cecil Taylor, Quincy Jones, Dave Pike, and Lalo Schifrin.
His last recordings were in 1981.
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With Ahmed Abdul-Malik
- Sounds of Africa (New Jazz, 1962)
With Gene Ammons
- Night Lights (Prestige, 1970 )
With Billy Butler
- This Is Billy Butler! (Prestige, 1968)
With Dizzy Gillespie
- The New Continent (Limelight, 1962)
- "New Wave" (Phillips, 1963)
- "Something Old, Something New" (Phillips, 1964)
- Jambo Caribe (Limelight, 1964)
With James Moody
- Comin' On Strong (Argo, 1963)
With Lalo Schifrin
- Lalo = Brilliance (Roulette, 1962)
- Bossa Nova: New Brazilian Jazz (Audio Fidelity, 1962)
- Piano, Strings and Bossa Nova (MGM, 1962)
With Randy Weston
- Tanjah (Polydor, 1973)