Phil Collins

By Russ:

Now for something a little bit more “current”, relative to our usual material…

He has sold over 250 million albums. He is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor. He is an LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order). He gained fame as both the drummer and lead singer for the rock group Genesis, and he gained worldwide fame as a solo artist.

Selling records and winning awards are things that have always come easy to Phil Collins. He has sold 100 million solo records and another 150 million with Genesis, putting him in the same rarefied league as Madonna, Elton John and Pink Floyd. His numerous awards include seven Grammys, two Golden Globes and an Oscar (for You’ll Be In My Heart from Disney’s Tarzan).


Genesis In The 70sGenesis in the 1970s: L-R (front) Phil, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, (back) Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel

Together And ApartTogether And Apart tells the full story of Genesis, the prog-rock giants who formed at Surrey’s Charterhouse school in 1967 and went on to sell 130 million albums worldwide, before Phil Collins left in 1996





Take Me Home

The video for “Take Me Home” shows Phil Collins travelling all over the world on the No Jacket Required tour, leaving many to think it’s a song about a weary traveller. In truth, the song is about a mental patient yearning to be set free from an institution. Collins says it was inspired by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The track was released at Collins’ commercial peak, and it hit #7 on the Hot 100. Sting and Phil’s former Genesis bandmate Peter Gabriel sing backup vocals on the song. It was the last song at his concerts for many years. 


1984 Easy Lover

The Earth, Wind and Fire horn section played with Phil Collins on his Face Value album in 1981 and the following year on the Genesis album Abacab. So, in 1984 Collins returned the favor by co-writing and recording “Easy Lover” for Earth, Wind and Fire singer Philip Bailey.


1982 / I Don’t Care Anymore

In 1982 Phil’s second album, “Hello, I Must Be Going” focused on his rather painful divorce. The five-minute lead-off track “I Don’t Care Anymore” showcases Collins’ impressive drum skills and his extreme anger towards his ex. “‘Cos I remember all the times I tried so hard,” he sings. “And you laughed in my face ‘cos you held all the cards/ I don’t care anymore.Collins plays every instrument on the song besides guitar. The song only reached Number 39 on the Hot 100, but it remains one of his most beloved solo works. 




1980 Don’t Lose My Number


1981 In the Air Tonight


The haunting “In the Air Tonight” is Phil Collins’ first solo hit. Despite all the success he’s had since, it remains the most famous work of his entire career. 

The lyrics have been analyzed for decades and are the source of a persistent urban legend that Collins saw a man refuse to save another man from drowning, but the truth is significantly more boring; the words simply came to him one day at his house while he was messing around with an early drum machine. The anger evident in the song is loosely directed at his ex-wife, but there’s no grand story behind it. Collins swears he offered the song to Genesis, but the rest of the guys claim to have no memory of this. Whatever the truth, he released it on his own and it became a global sensation.


1984 Easy Lover / duet with Philip Bailey / #2 US, #1 UK


The Earth, Wind and Fire horn section played with Phil Collins on his first studio album, Face Value in 1981 and the following year on the Genesis album Abacab. In 1984, Collins returned the favour by co-writing and recording “Easy Lover” for Earth, Wind and Fire singer Philip Bailey.


1984 Against All Odds / soundtrack ballad to Jeff Bridges movie / #1 US BB 100, #2 UK


Against All Odds” actually began in 1981 as a demo called “How Can You Just Sit There?” Phil fleshed it out after watching a rough cut of the movie Against All Odds. The title song used all throughout the movie, and peaked at #2 on the Hot 100.


1985 Take Me Home / No Jacket Required album /


1985 Sussudio / No Jacket Required album / # 1 US BB 100 / (see Video above).

The rather bizarre name “Sussudio” came out of Phil Collins’ mouth one day while improvising lyrics with a drum machine. “I kinda knew I had to find something else for that word,” he said. “Then I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as ‘sussudio,’ and I couldn’t find one.” And thus the world met a girl named Sussudio. The song was all over the radio and MTV in 1985. It remains one of his signature tunes, but many critics felt the song was too similar to Prince’s “1999.”

Sussudio Song Facts:


1985 One More Night / No Jacket Required album /


1985 Separate Lives / duet with Marilyn Martin / No Jacket Required album / #1 US, #2 UK


1989 Another Day in Paradise / But Seriously album / anti-homelessness anthem / #1 US, #2 UK


It’s appropriate that the final #1 single of the 1980s was a Phil Collins song. He worked tirelessly that decade, churning out hit after hit with Genesis and with his own solo career. Somehow, he even found time to produce albums for Eric Clapton, Robert Plant and ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad as well as staring in movies. With “Another Day in Paradise,” Collins moved away from romantic matters into the more serious issue of homelessness. He wrote the track after walking around Washington, D.C. and seeing hordes of people living in boxes. David Crosby sings backup on the song and it topped the charts all over the world. 


1990 I Wish It Would Rain Down / But Seriously album / #3 US Hot 100


Phil Collins formed a tight friendship with Eric Clapton in the 1980s. They worked together on Clapton’s 1985 LP Behind the Sun and 1986’s August. Both albums were co-produced by Collins, and he played drums and synthesizers on many tracks. Clapton returned the favor in 1989 when he played guitar on “I Wish It Would Rain Down” from Collins’ album, But Seriously.


Studio Albums, Sound Tracks and Acting

Phil Collins released 8 Studio Albums. Here are the first 6.


First album: 1981 / Face Value / UK / peaked at #1 on UK Albums Charts, certified 5-times Platinum by British Phonograph Industry (BPI) / The Earth Wind and Fire horn section played on this album.


Genesis were in a rare period of downtime, so Phil went into his basement and poured all his heartache into a series of demos he cut with a drum machine.

I didn’t see it as making a record,” Collins said later. “It wasn’t cathartic, but it was obviously therapeutic.” The songs became the backbone of his debut solo album. Despair is evident on every song, particularly the gut-wrenching “The Roof Is Leaking.”

It’s a sparse track, with Collins playing piano, totally unlike anything the songwriter had done in his decade with Genesis. Few people could have imagined this material would kick-start one of the most successful pop careers of the decade. 



Second album / 1982 / Hello I Must Be Going / UK / peaked at #2 / 3-time Platinum


You Can’t Hurry Love / UK #1


I Don’t Care Anymore



Third album / 1985 / No Jacket Required / best selling album of his career / certified Diamond in US / sales over 10 million / six-time Platinum in UK


Phil Collins’ career was absolutely on fire by 1985. Genesis seemed to get more popular with each album, and his new solo disc, No Jacket Required, was selling by the millions and generating monster hits like “Sussudio” and “One More Night.” “Don’t Lose My Number” was the third single, though the song began during the Face Value sessions in 1980.



Soundtrack / 1988 / songs for the movie Buster, in which Phil Collins starred. Buster

This movie is based on the story of Buster Edwards, one of the thieves involved in “The Great Train Robbery” of 1963.

Phil Collins / Groovy Kind Of Love / from the Buster soundtrack



Fourth album / 1989 / But Seriously


Another Day In Paradise / anti-homelessness anthem / #1 / #2 UK



Fifth album / 1993 / Both Sides / only one UK top 10 single




Sixth album / 1996 / Dance Into The Light



Other Musical Pursuits

 was a jazz fusion band active between 1975–1980 and 1992–1999. Noted members included John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards), and Phil Collins (drums).

Unorthodox Behaviour was their first album. It peaked at 191 on The Billboard 200 in 1976, the same year it was released.


This album combined jazz fusion with some elements of progressive rock, influenced by Collins. It showed extensive use of improvisation in the extended pieces, which was common in both those genres of music. Collins’ drum work was very fast and rhythmic and showed a big difference in style from his main band Genesis.

Tracks like “Nuclear Burn” and “Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria” are really a showcase for his drum work.

Brand X with Phil Collins – Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria


Brand X / Dance Of The Aliens


In 1976 another album Marscape was released featuring Jones, Goodsall & Collins. Goodsall and Jones were the sole constant members throughout the band’s existence.


In 2002, after recording several more studio albums, Phil went into semi-retirement.


Early Life

Born Philip David Charles Collins on January 30, 1951, in London, England, to parents Greville Collins, an insurance agent, and his wife June, a talent manager. One of three children, Phil grew up in a household that embraced creativity and drive. His older brother, Clive, would go on to become a professional cartoonist, while his sister competed as an ice skater.


From an early age, Phil showed a preference for the stage and music. His love for the drums began at the age of 5, when he was given a toy drum kit.


By the age of 12, Collins had saved up and purchased a real set of drums and played every chance he could get.


When Collins was 13 and a talented young actor, he was offered the chance to play the role of the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver!. To take on the part, Collins left the Chiswick Grammar School with his parents blessing, and enrolled in the Barbara Speake Stage School.

The decision to leave his old school, while not an easy one, proved to be very fortunate. Other acting opportunities came his way, including cameos in the Beatles’ A Hard Days Night (1964) as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1969).


Collins teamed with a few fellow students to form his first band called “The Real Thing“.

Other opportunities followed

Phil plays a major role in the children t.v. production Calamity The Cow, most of which will be cut out. Right before the final exams at acting school he throws it all away for the music.

He had a number of unsuccessful band auditions before he was accepted at the Cliff Charles Blues Band for a while. After that, it was bands like The Charge, The Freehold, Zox, The Radar Boys. Phil played in the backing band of the soulful Gladiators. They were called The Hickory and would become the basis for Flaming Youth after they split up.

1969: Phil occasionally drummed and sang with Flaming Youth. With members Phil Collins, Ronnie Caryl, Brian Chatton and Gordon Smith, they recorded an album called Ark 2 featuring music by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. When it was released in autumn 1969, the Melody Maker crowned it “pop album of the month”. Despite this praise and an ambitious première with an orchestra at London’s Lyceum success did not turn up. Flaming Youth split up soon after.

Then Came Good Fortune

1970: An ad was placed in the Melody Maker:

“Wanted: Drummer sensitive to acoustic music.” 

It was Genesis who placed the ad and invited Phil to audition at the home of Peter Gabriel’s parents in Chobham, Surrey.

Phil got the job and joined Genesis in August 1970. His first gig with the band was on August 30, 1970, at the Marquee Club. His colleagues soon thought highly of him as of a musician with a feeling for the overall sound.

The three-year-old group, fronted by lead singer Peter Gabriel, desperately needed a change. And Collins seemed to provide the spark.

Genesis had auditioned some 400 singers to find a replacement for Gabriel, before finally looking inward and handing the baton to Collins.

The change from Gabriel to Collins was significant. Unlike his predecessor, Collins didn’t dominate the stage with elaborate costumes. The music, too, slowly evolved away from the heady, conceptual stuff that defined the band’s early sound, toward a more radio-friendly style.

On Aug. 15, 1975, it was officially announced that Peter Gabriel had left Genesis. The announcement followed weeks of speculation that a split was about to occur. At the time, a record company spokesman issued a statement that Gabriel was leaving the band to concentrate on “other literary and experimental interests outside of music.One such possibility was working with film director William Friedkin of ‘The Exorcist’ fame, who had liked the short story Gabriel had written on the sleeve of the band’s ‘Live’ album and thought Gabriel might be someone to work with on a film project. Though this never materialized, it made Gabriel think about more than just being in Genesis.In the documentary, ‘Genesis: A History,’ Gabriel explained his feelings at the time, “There was all this big time stuff happening with long tours being planned way in the future, and I just felt I was getting to be part of a machine. I felt I was becoming a sort of stereotype, sort of ‘rock star,’ or falling into wanting that ego gratification. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like the situation, and I didn’t feel free.” Add to that, the fact that Gabriel and his wife had recently had their first child, and it was obvious something was going to come to a head.For me there was no question about priorities, that I think pissed off the band too. I was the first to have a baby, and they didn’t have any understanding how it changes the way you feel.” Tony Banks concedes, “He grew up perhaps quicker than the rest of us, really, at that time, and he wanted a bit more time than we felt we could give. So he felt he had to leave.After one final performance of ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ in Besancon, France, Gabriel was gone. At the time, music papers more or less rang the death bell for Genesis, assuming Gabriel was the band. Of course, time would prove them dead wrong.Looking back, Peter Gabriel stated of Phil: “He helped us to loosen up.” Over the next five years, Genesis churned out five studio albums, as well as a live record from a concert tour in the United States.

As the new front man,  Phil’s gradually increasing influence saw the band evolve from an artful prog-rock outfit into a smooth hit-making machine.

Through the 1980s he worked relentlessly, with his mega-successful solo career running in tandem with Genesis’s global domination.

Additionally, he lent his talents to a mind-boggling variety of outside projects, working with artists as diverse as Brian Eno and ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad.


His reputation as rock’s hardest-working musician was cemented with 1985’s Live Aid, when he performed in both London and Philadelphia on the same day!

He even found time to do some acting, appearing in an episode of Miami Vice and starring in the movie Buster.

Personal Life

Phil Collins is the first to admit that he wasn’t a very good husband and father in the 1970s. Genesis released an album almost every year and they toured heavily behind every one of them. During the few breaks, Phil Collins toured with the jazz fusion band, “Brand X”.

It couldn’t have been a huge shock when his wife left him, but the pain was nearly unbearable; she took both kids and even the dogs.

In 1975, family life grew ever more complicated. He married Canadian Andrea Bertorelli, with whom he had a son. He also adopted Bertorelli’s daughter. They divorced in 1980 after Bertorelli started an affair with their painter and decorator.

He was married to his second wife Jill Tavelman from 1984 to 1996. Their daughter was born in 1989.

He married his third wife Orianne in 1999, and the couple had two sons before divorcing in 2007.

In the 1990s Collins scaled back his recording and touring commitments with Genesis, and his solo releases became more occasional. While albums such as Both Sides (1993) and Dance Into The Light (1996) sold in their millions, they failed to scale the stratospheric heights of earlier works such as Face Value and No Jacket Required.


Paris 2004 :: He’s definitely still got it!

These days, Collins, a father of five, is more of a family man than a musician. In March 2011, the transition became more official when Collins, who battled a series of health issues (including a spinal problem that forced him to stop playing the drums), announced he was retiring from music. “I really don’t belong in that world,” stated Collins, who chose instead to help raise his two young sons with his third wife, Orianne. That same year, Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Further References:

One of Phil’s Drum Kits:



Rolling Stone

I Nearly Died In Rehab…”


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