Collins before a Forest National concert in Belgium, 2007
|Born||Philip David Charles Collins
30 January 1951
Chiswick, Greater London, England
Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins, LVO (born 30 January 1951), is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music producer and actor. He gained fame as both the drummer and lead singer for the rock band Genesis, and he also gained worldwide fame as a solo artist.
Collins is one of the most successful songwriters and performers of all time, singing 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 has been described by AllMusic as "one of the most successful pop and adult contemporary singers of the '80s and beyond".
Collins joined Genesis in 1970 as the group's drummer and became their lead vocalist in 1975 following the departure of the original lead singer 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 was ranked number 10 in "The Greatest Drummers of All Time" list by Gigwise and number nine in a list of "The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years" by MusicRadar in 2010. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012.
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 US Billboard Hot 100, 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 "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists". Although one of the world's best-selling recording artists and a highly respected drummer, Collins has garnered significant criticism over the years from music journalists and fellow artists. He announced his retirement in 2011 to focus on his family life, though he continued to write songs and in 2013 he said he was considering a return to the music industry.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early career
- 3 Genesis era
- 4 Solo career
- 5 Drumming and impact
- 6 Career as record producer and guest musician
- 7 Films, theatre, and television
- 8 Criticism and praise
- 9 Personal life
- 10 Activism
- 11 Discography
- 12 Filmography
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Early life and education
Philip David Charles Collins was born on 30 January 1951 in Chiswick, Hounslow, 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 practised by playing to music on the television and radio, but never learned to read and write conventional musical notation; instead, he used a system he devised himself. According to Barbara Speake, founder of the eponymous stage school which he would later attend, Collins always had a rare ear for music: "Phil was always special; aged five he entered a Butlins talent contest singing Davy Crockett, but he stopped the orchestra halfway through to tell them they were in the wrong key."
As a teenager, Collins went to learn drum rudiments. He learned the basic rudiments under the tuition of Lloyd Ryan and later studied further under Frank King. Collins would recall: "Rudiments I found very, very helpful – much more helpful than anything else because they're used all the time. In any kind of funk or jazz drumming, the rudiments are always there." However, Collins regretted that he never mastered musical notation, saying: "I never really came to grips with the music. I should have stuck with it. I've always felt that if I could hum it, I could play it. For me, that was good enough, but that attitude is bad." Lloyd Ryan recalled: "Phil always had a problem with reading. That was always a big problem for him. That’s a shame because reading drum music isn’t that difficult."
Collins's particularly strong early influence was the Beatles and their drummer Ringo Starr. He also enthusiastically followed the lesser-known London band the Action, whose drummer he would copy and whose work introduced him to the soul music of Motown and Stax Records. Collins was also influenced by the jazz and big band drummer Buddy Rich, whose opinion on the importance of the hi-hat prompted Collins to stop using two bass drums and start using the hi-hat. While attending Chiswick County School for Boys, Collins 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". His professional acting training began at the age of 14, when he entered the Barbara Speake Stage School, a fee-paying but non-selective independent school in Acton, London, whose talent agency had been established by his mother.
Collins began a career as a child actor while at the Barbara Speake Stage School and won his first major role as the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver! He was an extra in the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night (1964), as one of the hundreds of screaming teenagers during the TV concert sequence and seen fleetingly in a close-up. He was in Calamity the Cow (1967), made by the Children's Film Foundation. He was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 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. 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 "Art of Dying", released on his triple album All Things Must Pass. Harrison later 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 advert 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 own audition.
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 while Gabriel was lead singer and flautist, he made his lead singing debut on "For Absent Friends" (from Nursery Cryme). He later sang "More Fool Me" (from Selling England by the Pound). However, he also doubled on percussion, notably maracas, tambourine, triangle, tubular bells, bells and whistles, and would often sing in unison with Gabriel.
In 1974, while Genesis were recording the concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Brian Eno (who is credited as "Enossification" for electronic vocal effects on the track "Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging") needed a drummer for his second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain. 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 and percussion to the further Brian Eno releases Another Green World, Before and After Science and Music for Films.
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 vocalist/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 the group's studio recordings.
The band's first studio album with Collins as their lead vocalist was 1976's A Trick of the Tail, which reached No. 3 in the UK and charted in the U.S. top 40. Rolling Stone wrote that, "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 studio album Wind & Wuthering, their 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 the guitar and bass guitar in the studio. The line-up was regularly augmented by Chester Thompson and 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, 1975's Voyage of the Acolyte, on which he sang the lead vocals and played drums. As the decade closed, Genesis began to shift from their progressive rock roots and towards a more accessible, radio-friendly pop-rock sound. The 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three... featured their first UK Top 10 and U.S. 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 with complex time signatures, 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 studio albums including Duke, Abacab, Genesis and Invisible Touch. The latter album's title track reached number one on the U.S. 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 of Invisible Touch were mixed and many comparisons were made with Collins' solo work, but Rolling Stone's J. D. Considine praised the album's commercial appeal, 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 their lead vocalist 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.
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 U.S. top 20 hit "Misunderstanding", dealt with his failed relationships. A third track that appeared on Duke, "Behind the Lines" can also be found on Collins's debut solo album, "Face Value". 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" accompanied by Troy Street United. Face Value reached number one in the UK, and also became an international success, topping the charts in at least seven countries and hitting the top ten of the U.S, Billboard 200, eventually going quintuple-platinum in the U.S.
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", his first top 10 U.S. hit. The album reached number two on the UK Albums Chart, spending well over a year on the charts. The album went triple-platinum in the U.S.
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 – Worldwide success
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Collins changed his musical style with the release of the ballad, "Against All Odds", 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 No. 1 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 vocalist Phillip Bailey's third solo album, Chinese Wall, collaborating with Bailey on the duet, "Easy Lover", which reached No. 1 in the UK.
In November 1984, Collins contributed vocals and drums to Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?", a song written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for the victims of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia, which became the UK Christmas number one and the best-selling single in UK Singles Chart history, selling a million copies in the first week alone. Collins released his most successful album, the Diamond-certified No Jacket Required, which reached No. 1 in U.S. in the summer of 1985. It contained the U.S. No. 1 hits "One More Night" and "Sussudio" as well top ten hits "Don't Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home". It also contains the lesser known yet equally robust "Who Said I Would", and "Only You Know and I Know". The album featured contributions from The Police's vocalist, Sting, ex-bandmate Peter Gabriel, and Helen Terry as backing vocalists. He also recorded the successful song "Separate Lives", a duet with Marilyn Martin, and a U.S. No. 1, for the movie White Nights. Collins had three U.S. No. 1 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 commercial, despite its favourable reviews by the majority of music critics. 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." The album went reached No. 1 in the UK and U.S. In 1985, Collins was invited by Bob Geldof to perform at the Live Aid charity event, which was a continuation of the fundraising effort for Ethiopia started by Band Aid. Collins had the distinction of being the only performer to appear at both the UK concert at Wembley Stadium and the U.S. 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 U.S. enabling him to perform his solo material, and play drums with Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton in Philadelphia. While being a guest on many major artists' hit recordings, Collins continued to enjoy solo success even while on tour with Genesis supporting their successful album Invisible Touch. Besides his No. 1 duet with Marilyn Martin in 1985, Collins would score two more hits from movies with the singles, "A Groovy Kind of Love" (No. 1 UK and U.S.) and "Two Hearts" (No. 1 U.S., No. 6 UK), both 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.
The music press noted Collins' astronomical success as a solo artist had made him more popular than Genesis. Before the release of No Jacket Required, Collins insisted that he would not leave the band. "The next one to leave the band will finish it," Collins told Rolling Stone magazine in May 1985. "I feel happier with what we're doing now, because I feel it's closer to me. I won't be the one." Collins added, "Poor old Genesis does get in the way sometimes. I still won't leave the group, but I imagine it will end by mutual consent."
Collins spent most of 1989 working on his fourth studio album ...But Seriously. He also found time to appear as a guest artist on The Who Tour 1989, performing the role of young Tommy's wicked Uncle Ernie in a reprisal of the rock opera Tommy (a part originally played by their late drummer, Keith Moon). In November, Collins released ...But Seriously, which became another huge success, featuring as its lead single the anti-homelessness anthem "Another Day in Paradise", with David Crosby singing backing vocals. "Another Day in Paradise" reached No. 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 U.S. pop hit of the 1980s. The album ...But Seriously became the first No. 1 U.S. 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 U.S., No. 15 UK), "Do You Remember?" (not released in the UK, but a No. 4 hit in the U.S.), and "I Wish It Would Rain Down" (the latter featuring Eric Clapton on guitar; No. 3 U.S., 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 the 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 single, "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 on 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, and he performed all the vocal and instrumental parts at his home studio, and used rough vocal takes for the final product. The album was not as well received by radio. Its two biggest hits were "Both Sides of the Story" and "Everyday".
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". Singles from the album included the title track, which reached No. 9 in the UK, and The Beatles-inspired "It's in Your Eyes". Although the album achieved Gold certification in the U.S., 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 fellow British artists Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Sting.
A compilation album ...Hits was released in 1998 and sold well, returning Collins to multi-platinum status in the U.S. The album's one new track, a cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit "True Colors", received considerable airplay on U.S. 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 on the compilation.
Collins's next single, "You'll Be in My Heart", from the Disney animated movie Tarzan, spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 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, the least popular solo album of his career. 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 single "Can't Stop Loving You" (a Leo Sayer cover) was another No. 1 Adult Contemporary smash hit for Collins. Testify only sold 140,000 copies in the U.S. by year's end, although a successful worldwide tour followed.
In June 2002, Collins accepted an invitation to drum for the "house band" at the Party at the Palace held at Buckingham Palace Garden, 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 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 in 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. In 2007 the band were honourees at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, performing "Turn It On Again", "No Son of Mine" and "Los Endos" at the ceremony in Las Vegas.
2009–present: Going Back, retirement, 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 artists.
Going Back was released on 13 September 2010, entering the UK charts at No. 4, rising to No. 1 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 City. As of January 2011, Collins has spent 1,730 weeks in the German music charts—766 weeks of them with Genesis albums and singles and 964 weeks with solo releases.
On 4 March 2011, citing health problems and other concerns, Collins announced 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 was writing music once again and might 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.
On 24 January 2014, Collins announced in an interview with Inside South Florida that he was writing new compositions with the 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." However, in September 2014, Collins revealed that the collaboration had ended and he said it had been "a bit of a non-starter".
In May 2014, Collins gave a live performance of "In the Air Tonight" and "Land of Confusion" with young student musicians at the Miami Country Day School in Miami, Florida. Collins was asked to perform there by his sons, who are students at the school. In August 2014, Collins was reported to have accepted an invitation to perform at a benefit concert in Miami in aid of his Little Dreams Foundation charity which was due to take place in December. He ultimately missed the concert due to illness.
In May 2015 Collins signed a deal with Warner Music Group to remaster his eight solo albums and release unreleased material in his music vault.
Drumming and impact
American drummer Rich Lackowski, who authored a book on the "legends" who defined progressive rock drumming, wrote: "Phil Collins's grooves in early Genesis recordings paved the way for many talented drummers to come. His ability to make the drums bark with musicality and to communicate so convincingly in odd time signatures left many a drummer tossing on the headphones and playing along to Phil's lead." In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted Collins the fourth most influential progressive rock drummer for his work on the 1974 Genesis album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. MusicRadar has named Collins as one of the six pioneers of prog rock drumming. In 2005, Planet Rock listeners voted Collins the fifth greatest rock drummer in history.
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins cites Collins as one of his drumming heroes. Hawkins has said: "Collins is an incredible drummer. Anyone who wants to be good on the drums should check him out – the man is a master." In the April 2001 issue of Modern Drummer, Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy named Collins in an article when asked about drummers he was influenced by and had respect for. Rush drummer Neil Peart has praised his "beautiful drumming" and "lovely sound" on the 1973 Genesis album Selling England by the Pound, which he called "an enduring masterpiece of drumming".
Modern Drummer readers voted for Collins every year between 1987 and 1991 as Pop/Mainstream Rock drummer of the year. In 2000, he was voted as Big Band drummer of the year. In 2012, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Collins is a left-handed drummer, and uses Gretsch drums, Remo heads and Sabian cymbals. Past kits he used were made by Pearl and Premier
The Gretsch Company drums: (All drums are single head concert toms except snare)
- 14 x 20" bass drum
- 5.5 x 8" rack tom
- 6.5 x 10" rack tom
- 8 x 12" rack tom
- 12 x 15" rack tom
- 16 x 16" floor tom
- 18 x 18" floor tom
- 3.5 x 14" snare drum
- 15" Hi Hats
- 22" HH China
- 16" HH Medium Thin Crash
- 17" HH Extra Thin Crash
- 21" HH Raw Bell Dry Ride
- 20" HH Medium Crash
- 20" HH China
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, Roland TR-808, Roland TR-909, Linn LM-1 and LinnDrum drum machines, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, the Yamaha CP-70 electric grand piano, the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, Oberheim DMX drum machine (as heard on "Sussudio"), Korg Wavestation, Korg KARMA, Korg Trinity, Korg 01/W and Korg Triton synthesizers, the Roland D-50, Roland JD-800 and Roland JV-1080 synthesizers, E-mu SP-12 and E-mu SP-1200 sampling drum machines and the Roland VP-330 vocoder (as heard on "In the Air Tonight").
Career as record producer and guest musician
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" (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; in 1979 he had played drums and contributed backing vocals on Martyn's Grace and Danger. He followed that up by producing Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad's (Frida Lyngstad of ABBA) 1982 album Something's Going On, which contained the international hit "I Know There's Something Going On".
In 1976 Collins was brought in to contribute some percussion to one or more tracks on Thin Lizzy's album Johnny The Fox, seemingly because he was a close friend of Phil Lynott's. Brian Robertson later said, "Collins was a mate of Phil's... I think Phil probably wanted to get him on the album to name-drop." Neither Brian Robertson nor Brian Downey have been able to remember exactly which songs Collins played on.
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 and played drums on 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. He also did the soundtrack to another Disney film Brother Bear in 2003. 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, including as a boy in the concert audience in a hard day's night, and would go on to become a very successful musician himself.
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 actress and dancer Ann Reinking perform his song. Reinking's performance was described by one critic as an "absurdly inept rendition" of the song. The Los Angeles Times said: "Reinking did an incredible job of totally destroying a beautiful song. The best that can be said about her performance is that the stage set was nice." Collins would introduce it at subsequent concerts by saying: "I'm sorry Miss Ann Reinking couldn't be here tonight; I guess I just have to sing my own song."
As a lead 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 composers, not vocalists). Bishop's song had parallels to some of those 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 embarking on his career as a musician came in 1988 with the romantic comedy-drama Buster. He starred as Buster Edwards, a criminal convicted for his role in the Great Train Robbery, which took place in England in August 1963. Reviews for the film were mixed and controversy ensued over its subject matter, with Prince Charles and Princess Diana deciding to withdraw from attending the film's première after it was accused of glorifying crime. However, Collins's performance opposite Julie Walters received good reviews and he contributed four songs to the film's soundtrack. His slow ballad rendition of "A Groovy Kind of Love", originally a 1966 single by The Mindbenders, became Collins's only single to reach number one in both the UK and the US. 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 the lead 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 the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart. 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 featured in the satirical black comedy film American Psycho, with psychotic 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". Bateman delivers a monologue in praise of Collins and Genesis during a sequence in which he engages the services of two prostitutes while playing "In Too Deep" and "Sussudio". Bateman also makes similar paeans to other 1980s pop stars Huey Lewis and the News and Whitney Houston in the film.
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 one of several celebrities who were tricked into appearing in a controversial British comedy series, Brass Eye, shown on public service broadcaster Channel 4. In the episode, Collins endorsed a hoax anti-paedophile campaign wearing a T-shirt with the words "Nonce Sense" and warned children against speaking to suspicious people. Collins was reported by the BBC to have consulted lawyers regarding the programme, which was originally pulled from broadcast but eventually rescheduled. Collins said he had taken part in the programme "in good faith for the public benefit", believing it to be "a public service programme that would be going around schools and colleges in a bid to stem child abduction and abuse". Collins also accused the makers of the programme of "some serious taste problems" and warned it would prevent celebrities from supporting "public spirited causes" in the future.
In 2003, Collins's work on Brother Bear was expanded as Disney used the song "Welcome" as the theme for Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams, the main parade celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland.
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 Collins 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.
Collins was portrayed in the 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 2000". Collins appears briefly in the Finnish animated sitcom Pasila in the episode "Phil Collins Hangover". The music of this episode is a pastiche of Phil Collins's "Another Day in Paradise". Collins was mentioned in the Psych episode "Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!" as resembling Shawn Spencer's father Henry portrayed by actor Corbin Bernsen.
Criticism and praise
Critical and public perceptions
According to a BBC biography of Collins in 2000, "critics sneer at him" and "bad publicity also caused problems" which "damaged his public profile". Rock historian Martin C. Strong wrote that, as an entertainer, Collins "truly polarised opinion from the start, his ubiquitous smugness and increasingly sterile pop making him a favourite target for critics". During his recording career Collins would regularly place telephone calls to music writers to take issue with their censuring of his work. Over time, he came to be personally disliked; in 2009, journalist Mark Lawson told how Collins's media profile had shifted from "pop's Mr. Nice Guy, patron saint of ordinary blokes", to someone accused of "blandness, tax exile and ending a marriage by sending a fax". Collins has rejected accusations of tax avoidance, and, despite confirming that some of the divorce-related correspondence between himself and second wife, Jill Tavelman, was by fax (a message from Collins regarding access to their daughter was reproduced for the front cover of The Sun in 1993), he states that he did not terminate the marriage in that fashion. Nevertheless, the British media has often repeated the fax claim. Collins has also been the victim of scathing remarks in regard to his alleged right-wing political leanings. Caroline Sullivan, a music critic of The Guardian, referred to this negative publicity in her 2007 article "I wish I'd never heard of Phil Collins", writing that it was difficult for her to hear his work "without being riven by distaste for the man himself".
Several critics have spoken to Collins's omnipresence. Journalist Frank DiGiacomo wrote a 1999 piece for The New York Observer titled "The Collins Menace", which lamented his ubiquity in the 1980s and early 1990s. DiGiacomo said: "Even when I sought to escape the sounds [of Collins] in my head by turning on the TV, there would be Mr. Collins...mugging for the cameras – intent on showing the world just how hard he would work to sell millions of records to millions of stupid people." In his 2010 article "Love don't come easy: artists we love to hate", Irish Times critic Kevin Courtney expressed similar sentiments. Naming Collins as one of the ten most disliked pop stars in the world, he wrote: "Hardly a day went by in the 1980s without Collins being in the charts … He performed at Live Aid, playing first at Wembley, then flying over to Philadelphia via Concorde, just to make sure no one in the U.S. got off lightly. By the early 1990s, Phil phatigue [sic] had really set in."
Appraising Collins's legacy in a 2013 review of the American Psycho musical (adapted from a 2000 film incorporating his music), Guardian critic Tom Service described Collins as "un-stomachable" and his music as "perfectly vacuous". He also compared him unfavourably with pop contemporaries such as the Pet Shop Boys and The Human League, whose music he said had endured far more successfully. Commenting on the satirical usage of his compositions in the film, Service stated that the serial killer lead character Patrick Bateman's paeans to Collins's 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 most popular album No Jacket Required (1985) as "unlistenable to today", arguing that "there's no colder or more superficial sound in popular music" than its opening track, the hit single "Sussudio". That song had attracted negative attention for sounding too similar to Prince's "1999" – a charge that Collins did not deny – and its hook line ("Su-su-su-sussudio") has been named as the most widely disliked element of his career. Collins's 1989 anti-homelessness single "Another Day in Paradise" was also heavily criticised, and became linked to allegations of hypocrisy.
According to Jeff Shannon in The Seattle Times, Collins is the "target of much South Park derision"; in the "Timmy 2000" episode of the show, he is portrayed as "condescending" and inhibitive to the social progress of a mentally and physically disabled character. A New Musical Express writer also observed the series' "endless lampooning" of Collins.
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, and by FHM as "the pop star that nobody likes". Rolling Stone journalist John Dioso acknowledged "the incredible, overwhelming popularity" Collins and Genesis achieved, but said 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 stated 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. He's short, pretty gullible and sports a funny-looking face that encourages mockery while he's responsible for some of the cheesiest music ever committed to acetate." Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone mentioned that Phil Collins hate sites had "flourished" online, referenced his acrid moniker "the Antichrist" (which Collins has said was coined by Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher), and acknowledged that he had been called "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".
Criticism from other artists
Writing about Collins in a 2013 publication on 1980s popular music, author Dylan Jones said that, along with the press, "many of his peers despised him so". Indeed, a number of fellow artists have criticised Collins publicly. Former Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd vocalist John Lydon described Collins's playing of both the UK and US legs of the 1985 Live Aid concert as "utter pomp and idiocy" and asked: "Why didn't he just play the drums down the telephone and save the money?" Guitarist Jimmy Page, whose band Led Zeppelin gave a poorly-received reunion set with Collins at Live Aid which was later disowned by the group, alleged that Collins "hadn't learned" his drum part. Page said: "You can get away with that in a pop band but not with Led Zeppelin". Collins responded by saying that the band "weren't very good" and that he "was made to feel a little uncomfortable by the dribbling Jimmy Page". He persisted with the set, instead of walking off, in order to avoid negative attention. Appearing on a 1989 edition of BBC programme Juke Box Jury, Collins applauded an upcoming single by British new wave band Sigue Sigue Sputnik; this prompted their singer, Martin Degville, to say directly to Collins's face: "God! We must have really got it wrong if you like us!" In 1990, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters told Rolling Stone that the impact of The Who's 1989 reunion tour, on which the band commemorated the 20th anniversary of their Tommy album with live performances of the record, was "reduced dramatically" by the involvement of Collins, as well as that of Billy Idol and Patti LaBelle. Waters added: "I find the ubiquitous nature of Phil Collins's presence in my life irritating, anyway." David Bowie subsequently dismissed his own critically reviled 1980s output as his "Phil Collins years/albums".
In addition to the song's negative press from music journalists, singer-songwriter and political activist Billy Bragg also criticised 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." Noel Gallagher has censured Collins on multiple occasions, including the comment: "Just because you sell lots of records, it doesn't mean to say you're any good. Look at Phil Collins." Collins said he has "at times, been very down" about Gallagher's criticisms. Gallagher's brother, Oasis singer Liam, recalled the "boring" Collins's chart dominance in the 1980s and stated that, by the 1990s, it was "time for some real lads to get up there and take charge". Appearing on television series Room 101 in 2005, Collins nominated the brothers as entrants into the titular room. He described them as "horrible" and stated: "They're rude and not as talented as they think they are. I won't mince words here, but they've had a go at me personally." In 2007, Young Knives frontman Henry Dartnall labelled Collins – who had recently lent his song "In the Air Tonight" to a Cadbury Dairy Milk TV commercial – a "fat, bald, chocolate-eating bastard". On the closing track of their 2014 album What Have We Become?, titled "When I Get Back to Blighty", former Beautiful South collaborators Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott included the lyric: "Everyone around us agrees that Phil Collins must die". MusicOMH critic David Meller remarked that the line "is delivered with willing, almost pleasurable conviction by Abbott".
Collins acknowledged in 2010 that he had been "omnipresent". He said of his character: "The persona on stage came out of insecurity...it seems embarrassing now. I recently started transferring all my VHS tapes onto DVD to create an archive, and everything I was watching, I thought, 'God, I'm annoying.' I appeared to be very cocky, and really I wasn't." Collins concedes his status as a figure of contempt for many people and has said that he believes this is a consequence of his music being overplayed. In 2011, he was quoted: "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!" Collins has described criticism of his physical appearance over the years as "a cheap shot", but has acknowledged the "very vocal element" of Genesis fans who believe that the group sold out under his leadership. Regarding criticism of his single "Another Day in Paradise", Collins stated: "When I drive down the street, I see the same things everyone else sees. It's a misconception that if you have a lot of money you're somehow out of touch with reality." 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 stated 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 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."
Paul Lester of The Guardian wrote in 2013 that Collins is one of several pop acts that "used to be a joke" but are "now being hailed as gods". Despite the contempt of many of his 20th century peers, Collins has become an iconic figure within US urban music, influencing artists such as Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé. His songs have been sampled by various hip-hop and contemporary R&B acts, and performers including Lil' Kim, Kelis and Wu-Tang Clan co-founder Ol' Dirty Bastard covered his work on the 2001 tribute album Urban Renewal. In 2004, indie rocker Ben Gibbard praised Collins' singing, claiming he's a "great vocalist". Collins' music has been championed by his contemporary, the heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, David Crosby has called him "a dear friend" who has helped him "enormously" and Robert Plant has paid tribute to him as "the most spirited and positive and really encouraging force" when commencing his own solo career after the break-up of Led Zeppelin. Collins has also been championed by modern artists in diverse genres, including indie rock groups The 1975, Generationals, Neon Indian, Yeasayer and Sleigh Bells, electronica artist Lorde, and soul singer Diane Birch. Birch said in 2014: "Collins walks a really fine line between being really cheesy and being really sophisticated. He can seem appalling, but at the same time, he has awesome production values and there's a particular richness to the sound. It's very proficient in the instrumentation and savvy about melodies."
Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford has praised Collins's personality, saying that "he always had a bloke-next-door, happy-go-lucky demeanour about him: let's have a drink in the pub, crack a joke, smoke a cigarette or a joint". He has been characterised by favourable critics as a "rock god", and an artist who has remained "down to earth". In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, published in 2004, journalist J. D. Considine wrote: "For a time, Phil Collins was nearly inescapable on the radio, and enormously popular with the listening public—something that made him an obvious target for critics. Despite his lumpen-pop appeal, however, Collins is an incisive songwriter and resourceful musician." Creation Records founder Alan McGee wrote in 2009 that there was a "non-ironic revival of Phil Collins" happening. According to McGee: "The kids don't care about 'indie cred' anymore. To them, a great pop song is just that: a great pop song. In this time of revivals, nothing is a sacred cow anymore, and that can only be a good thing for music." Commenting on Collins' popularity with hip-hop acts, he argued: "It's not surprising. Collins is a world-class drummer whose songs immediately lend themselves to being sampled."
In 2010, Gary Mills of The Quietus made an impassioned defence of Collins. He said: "There can't be many figures in the world of pop who have inspired quite the same kind of hatred-bordering-on-civil-unrest as Collins, and there can't be too many who have shifted anything like the 150 million plus units that he's got through as a solo artist either...The disgrace of a career bogged entirely in the determined dross of No Jacket Required however, is simply not justified, regardless of how Collins gained either his fortune, or his public image." Similarly, David Sheppard wrote for the BBC in 2010: "Granted, Collins has sometimes been guilty of painting the bull’s-eye on his own forehead (that self-aggrandising Live Aid Concorde business, the cringe-worthy lyrics to 'Another Day in Paradise', Buster, etc), but nonetheless, the sometime Genesis frontman’s canon is so substantial and his hits so profuse that it feels myopic to dismiss him merely as a haughty purveyor of tortured, romantic ballads for the middle income world."
Martin C. Strong stated in 2011 that "the enigmatic and amiable Phil Collins has had his fair share of mockers and critics over the years, although one thing is sure, and that is his dexterity and undeniable talent". In a piece the following year, titled "10 Much-Mocked Artists It's Time We Forgave", New Musical Express critic Anna Conrad said Collins had been portrayed as a "villain", and wrote: "[W]as the bile really justified?...come on, admit it. You've air drummed to 'In the Air Tonight', and loved it." Guardian journalist Dave Simpson wrote a complimentary article in 2013; while acknowledging "few pop figures have become as successful and yet reviled as Phil Collins", he argued "it's about time we recognised Collins's vast influence as one of the godfathers of popular culture".
Collins has been married three times. Each marriage has 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 also became a vocalist and drummer with the band Sound of Contact. Collins adopted Bertorelli's daughter Joely, a Canadian actress and film producer.
Collins married his third wife, Orianne Cevey, a Swiss national, 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 City and Dersingham, Norfolk. In 2011, it was reported in Rolling Stone Magazine that Phil Collins had begun dating CBS 2 WCBS-TV news reporter Dana Tyler.
Collins was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 wealthiest people in the British music industry. In 2012, Collins was estimated to be the second wealthiest drummer in the world, beaten to first place by Ringo Starr.
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 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 had reportedly lost hearing in his left ear in 2000 due to a viral infection. In September 2009, it was reported that Collins could no longer play the 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 contemplated committing suicide, but he resisted for the sake of his children.
In October 2014, Collins told John Wilson on BBC Radio 4's Front Row that he still could not play the drums; he said the problem was not arthritis but an undiagnosed nerve problem where he was unable to "grip the sticks".
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 the 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 stated that Collins was among several celebrities who were planning to leave Britain in the event of a Labour victory.
Collins is sometimes reported in the British press to have left the UK and moved to Switzerland in protest at the Labour Party's victory in the 1997 general election. 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 started a relationship with 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 statement that he did not leave Britain for tax purposes, Collins 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 repeating that he had left the country when Labour won the 1997 general election and that he 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". He also wrote that Collins's reported comments and subsequent move to Switzerland led to "accusations of hypocrisy" since he had "bemoaned the plight of the homeless in the song 'Another Day in Paradise'", and "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 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 978-1-933337-50-0, published in 2012. A short film was released in 2013 called Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier which captures Collins on a book tour in June 2012. On 26 June 2014, a press conference was held from The Alamo, where Collins spoke, announcing that he was donating his entire collection to The Alamo via the State of Texas. On 11 March 2015, in honour of his donation, Collins was named an honorary Texan by the state legislature.
Collins was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) 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 autographed drum sticks in support of PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In February 2000, Collins and his third wife Orianne founded the Little Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organisation 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 Foundation after receiving letters from children asking him how they could break into the music industry. Mentors to the students who have benefited from Little Dreams Foundation have included the vocalists Tina Turner and Natalie Cole. In 2013, Collins visited Miami Beach, Florida, to promote the expansion of Little Dreams Foundation.
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/AIDS and extreme poverty. He donates all the royalties earned from his music sales in South Africa to the organisation.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phil Collins.|
|Wikiquote has 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