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Phil Collins

Phil 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.1981–83: Early solo recordingsThe 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".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

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.FamilyEach 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 met his second wife, Jill Tavelman, in 1980. They were married from 1984 to 1996. They had one daughter, Lily Collins, born in 1989.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.


Collins was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 richest people in the British music industry.

Court case

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".

Health problems

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.

Honorary degrees

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.

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