Phil Collins

  • British drummer, singer and songwriter born in 1951 from Chiswick, Middlesex England.
  • Collins’ first drum set was a toy set that he received when he was 5 years old. As he grew older, his parents continued to upgrade his drums. He took lessons from professional drummers, and he practiced while watching music from television shows and listening to the radio. His early influences were Ringo Starr, Motown, jazz and big band drummers. While in middle school, he formed a band called the Real Thing, and later joined the Freehold.
  • He began acting lessons at the age of 14, and he landed a role in a musical theater production in London’s West End. He was an extra in the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, and he was in a scene in the Disney film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, though the scene was cut from the final edit.
  • Never serious about an acting career, he performed as a touring musician in 1969 for John Walker, and after the tour, he formed a band called Hickory, which evolved to Flaming Youth. Flaming Youth released a concept album called Ark 2, which was acclaimed by critics, but the band broke up in early 1970. Collins did some session work and applied to be the drummer for several bands, but was not selected.
  • In the summer of 1970, the drummer for the band Genesis left the group, and Collins responded to an advertisement that the band bought looking for a replacement. He auditioned and was hired. He played drums and sang backing vocals (and occasional lead vocals) on 4 albums between 1970 and 1975. In 1975, Peter Gabriel left Genesis, and 400 people applied for the open lead vocal role. After auditions, they decided to have Collins handle the lead vocals.
  • From 1976 to 1996, Collins was the leader of Genesis, and the band’s popularity peaked. Eight studio albums were released, with six of them certified platinum in the U.S. and five of them topped the UK album chart. Top 5 singles from these albums included Abacab, No Reply At All, Paperlate, Mama, That’s All, Invisible Touch (their only #1 on the Hot 100 chart), Throwing It All Away, No Son of Mine, and I Can’t Dance – all co-written by Collins. Collins left Genesis in 1996, but rejoined for a reunion tour in 2007, and another reunion tour was planned for 2020, but is on hold due to COVID.
  • While working with Genesis, Collins began a solo career in 1981 with the release of the Face Value album. It was a huge success, certified 5x platinum and reaching #7 in the U.S. and #1 in the UK. The single In the Air Tonight reached #19 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart in the U.S., and it was #1 or #2 in eight other countries. The following year, Hello, I Must Be Going! was released, and its success was driven by the top 10 hit You Can’t Hurry Love.
  • In 1984, Collins had his first U.S. #1 hit with Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), a song that he contributed to the soundtrack for the film Against All Odds. Collins won a Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, for the song.
  • From 1985 to 1990, Collins as solo artist became one of the biggest stars in popular music. He had 6 more Hot 100 #1 hits – Sussudio, One More Night, Separate Lives, A Groovy Kind of Love, Two Hearts and Another Day in Paradise. His style evolved over this time – Sussudio is a pop-funk song, while the others are more mellow ballads – in many ways, a defining sound of the mid to late 80s. Along with this hits, he collaborated in 1985 with Philip Bailey on Bailey’s Easy Lover single, which reached #2 on the Hot 100.
  • His best selling album was 1985’s No Jacket Required, which was certified 12x platinum in the U.S., and it sold over 25 million copies worldwide. It won 3 Grammy awards, including Album of the Year. The 4 singles from the album that charted were Sussudio, One More Night, Don’t Lose My Number and Take Me Home. 
  • Collins also won a Grammy award for Best Song for a Motion Picture for Two Hearts, which was on the soundtrack for the film Buster. His single Another Day in Paradise won the Grammy for Record of the Year for 1990. Collins wrote the songs for the soundtrack for the Disney animated film Tarzan, and he won the Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album in 1999. The single from Tarzan – You’ll Be In My Heart – spent 19 weeks at #1 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  • In March 2010, Collins was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis. The following year, he announced that he was retiring, but by October 2015 he announced that he was out of retirement, planning a tour and album. He toured from 2017 to 2019, playing 97 shows. He has written 2 books. He is one of only 3 artists that have sold over 100 million records worldwide as both solo artist and band member – the other 2 are Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. His 150 million records sold as a solo artist makes him one of the best selling artists of all time.
  • Prog rock fan that I am, I preferred his work with Genesis over his solo work. Clearly, Collins is one of the top musical artists ever. Here’s a cool concert video of In the Air Tonight. It’s a Genesis song, but this performance was done during one of his solo tours. The famous drum section starts at 5:30, but you gotta watch it from the beginning to appreciate it. Enjoy!

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