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Phil Collins

Collins during a concert in London in 2022
Collins at the O2 Arena in London, 2022
Philip David Charles Collins

(1951-01-30) 30 January 1951 (age 73)
Wandsworth, London, England
  • Singer
  • drummer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
Years active
  • 1963–2011
  • 2015–present
Andrea Bertorelli
(m. 1975; div. 1980)
Jill Tavelman
(m. 1984; div. 1996)
Orianne Cevey
(m. 1999; div. 2006)
Children 5, including Joely, Simon, and Lily
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • drums
  • keyboards

Philip David Charles Collins LVO (born 30 January 1951) is an English singer, drummer, songwriter, record producer and actor. He was the drummer and later became the lead singer of the rock band Genesis and had a successful solo career, achieving three UK number one singles and seven US number one singles as a solo artist. In total, his work with Genesis, other artists, and solo resulted in more US top-40 singles than any other artist throughout the 1980s. His most successful singles from the period include "In the Air Tonight", "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)", "One More Night", "Sussudio", "Another Day in Paradise" and "I Wish It Would Rain Down".

Born and raised in west London, Collins began playing drums at age five. During the same period he attended drama school which secured him various roles as a child actor. His first major role was the Artful Dodger in the West End production of the musical Oliver!. As an accomplished professional actor by his early teens, he pivoted to pursue a music career, becoming the drummer for Genesis in 1970, at age 19. He took over the role of lead singer in 1975 following the departure of Peter Gabriel. During the second half of the 1970s, in-between Genesis albums and tours, Collins was also the drummer of jazz rock band Brand X. Collins began a successful solo career in the 1980s, initially inspired by his marital breakdown and love of soul music, releasing the albums Face Value (1981), Hello, I Must Be Going (1982), No Jacket Required (1985) and ...But Seriously (1989). Collins became, in the words of AllMusic, "one of the most successful pop and adult contemporary singers of the '80s and beyond". He also became known for a distinctive gated reverb drum sound on many of his recordings. He played drums on the 1984 charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?, and in July 1985, he was the only artist to perform at both Live Aid concerts. He also resumed his acting career, appearing in Miami Vice and subsequently starring in the film Buster (1988).

Collins left Genesis in 1996 to focus on solo work; this included writing songs for Disney's animated film Tarzan (1999). He wrote and performed the songs, "Two Worlds", "Son of Man", "Strangers Like Me" and "You'll Be in My Heart", the latter of which earned him the Academy Award for Best Original Song. He rejoined Genesis for their Turn It On Again Tour in 2007. Following a five-year retirement to focus on his family life, Collins released his memoir in 2016 and completed his Not Dead Yet Tour in 2019. He then rejoined Genesis in 2020 for a second reunion tour, ending in March 2022.

Collins's discography includes eight studio albums that have sold 33.5 million certified units in the US and an estimated 150 million records sold worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists. He is one of only three recording artists, along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, who have sold over 100 million records both as solo artists and separately as principal members of a band. He has won eight Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards (winning Best British Male Artist three times), two Golden Globe Awards, one Academy Award, and a Disney Legend Award. He was awarded six Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, including the International Achievement Award. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010. He has also been recognised by music publications with induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.

Early life

Philip David Charles Collins was born on 30 January 1951 in Putney Hospital, southwest London. His father, Greville Philip Austin Collins (1907–1972), was an insurance agent for London Assurance and his mother, Winifred June Collins (née Strange, 1913–2011), worked in a toy shop and later as a booking agent at the Barbara Speake Stage School, an independent performing arts school in East Acton. Collins is the youngest of three children: his sister Carole competed as a professional ice skater and followed her mother's footsteps as a theatrical agent, and his brother Clive was a noted cartoonist. The family moved twice by the time Collins had reached two; they settled at 453 Hanworth Road in Hounslow, Middlesex.

Collins was given a toy drum kit for Christmas when he was five, and later his two uncles made him a makeshift set with triangles and tambourines that fit into a suitcase. As Collins grew older, these were followed by more complete sets bought by his parents. He practised by playing along to music on the television and radio. During a family holiday at a Butlin's, a seven-year-old Collins entered a talent contest singing "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", but stopped the orchestra halfway through to tell them they were in the wrong key. The Beatles were a major early influence on Collins, including their drummer Ringo Starr. He also 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 jazz and big band drummer Buddy Rich, whose opinion on the importance of the hi-hat prompted him to stop using two bass drums and start using the hi-hat.

Around twelve, Collins received basic piano and music tuition from his father's aunt. He studied drum rudiments from Lloyd Ryan and later under Frank King, and considered this training as "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." Collins never learned to read or write musical notation and devised his own system, which he regretted in later life. "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."

Collins attended Nelson Primary School until he was eleven years old. He was accepted into Chiswick County Grammar School, where he took to football and formed The Real Thing, a school band that had Andrea Bertorelli, his future wife, and friend Lavinia Lang, as backup singers. Both women would have an impact on Collins' personal life in later years. Collins' next group was The Freehold, with whom he wrote his first song, "Lying, Crying, Dying", and played in a group named The Charge.


1963–1970: Early acting roles and bands

Collins attended the Barbara Speake stage school

Collins quit school at fourteen to become a full time pupil at Barbara Speake. He had an uncredited part as an extra in the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night (1964), where he is amongst the screaming teenagers during the television concert sequence. Later in 1964, Collins was cast as the Artful Dodger in two West End runs of the musical Oliver! He was paid £15 a week, and called the role "the best part for a kid in all London". His days as the Dodger were numbered when his voice broke during a performance and had to speak his lines for the rest of the show. Collins starred in Calamity the Cow (1967), a film produced by the Children's Film Foundation. After a falling out with the director, Collins decided to quit acting to pursue music. He was to appear in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) as one of the children who storm the castle, but his scene was cut. Collins auditioned for the role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1968), but the role went to Leonard Whiting. He also travelled the country teaching people the "crunch" dance made popular by a Smith's crisps advertising campaign.

Collins's enthusiasm towards music grew during his acting years. He frequented the Marquee Club on Wardour Street so often, eventually the managers asked him to set out the chairs, sweep the floors, and assist in the cloakroom. It was here where Collins saw The Action and newcomers Yes perform, which greatly influenced him. When auditions for Vinegar Joe and Manfred Mann Chapter Three were unsuccessful, Collins secured a position in the Cliff Charles Blues Band and toured the country. This was followed by a stint in The Gladiators, a backing band for a black vocal quartet, which also featured Collins's schoolmate Ronnie Caryl on guitar. Around this time, Collins learned that Yes were looking for a new drummer and spoke to frontman Jon Anderson, who invited him to an audition the following week. Collins failed to turn up, and later wondered what his life would have been like had he gone ahead with it.

In 1969, Collins and Caryl joined John Walker's backing band for a European tour, which also consisted of guitarist Gordon Smith and keyboardist Brian Chatton. The tour finished, the quartet formed a rock band, Hickory, which they later renamed Flaming Youth. They signed to Fontana Records and recorded Ark 2 (1969), a concept album written and produced by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley that tells the story of man's evacuation from a burning Earth and its voyage into space. Inspired by the 1969 moon landing, each member sings a lead vocal.

In May 1970, after Flaming Youth split, Collins played congas on George Harrison's song "Art of Dying", but his contribution was omitted. Years later, Collins asked Harrison about the omission. Harrison sent Collins a recording allegedly containing Collins's performance; Collins was embarrassed to hear that the performance was poor. When Collins apologised, Harrison confessed that the recording was a prank, which Collins accepted in good humour.

1970–1978: Genesis, later role as lead singer, and Brand X

In July 1970, the rock band Genesis had signed with Charisma Records and recorded their second album Trespass (1970), but suffered a setback following the departures of drummer John Mayhew and guitarist Anthony Phillips. They decided to continue, and placed an advert in the Melody Maker for a drummer "sensitive to acoustic music" and a 12-string acoustic guitarist. Collins recognised Charisma owner Tony Stratton-Smith's name on it, and he and Caryl went for the auditions. The group, who had been a full-time working band for less than a year, consisted of school friends from Charterhouse School, a private boarding school: singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, and bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford. Collins and Caryl arrived early, so Collins took a swim in the pool at Gabriel's parents' house and memorised the pieces the drummers before him were playing. He recalled: "They put on 'Trespass', and my initial impression was of a very soft and round music, not edgy, with vocal harmonies, and I came away thinking Crosby, Stills and Nash." On 8 August 1970, Collins became their fifth drummer. Genesis then took a two-week holiday, during which Collins earned money as an exterior decorator. Rutherford thought Caryl was not a good fit; in 1971, the band enlisted Steve Hackett.

Genesis 1977-06-03 (cropped)
Genesis on tour in 1977, their second with Collins as lead vocalist

From 1970 to 1975, Collins played drums, percussion, and largely sang backing vocals on Genesis albums and concerts. His first album as a member, Nursery Cryme, features the acoustic song "For Absent Friends" that has Collins singing lead vocal. He sang "More Fool Me" on their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound. In 1974, during the recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Collins played drums on Brian Eno's second album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) after Eno had contributed electronic effects to two songs on the album.

In August 1975, Gabriel's departure from the band was publicly announced. Genesis advertised for a replacement in Melody Maker and received around 400 replies. After a lengthy auditioning process, during which he sang backup vocals for applicants, Collins became the band's lead vocalist during the recording of their album A Trick of the Tail. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number 3 in the UK charts and 31 in the US. Rolling Stone wrote that Genesis "has managed to turn the possible catastrophe of Gabriel's departure into their first broad-based American success." For the tour, Collins accepted former Yes and King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford to play drums while Collins sang. Wind & Wuthering was the last Genesis album recorded with Hackett before he left the group. In 1976, Collins brought in American drummer Chester Thompson, formerly of Frank Zappa and Weather Report who became a mainstay of Genesis' and Collins' backing bands until 2010. When Collins, Banks, and Rutherford decided to continue Genesis as a trio in 1977, they recorded ...And Then There Were Three.... This marked a shift from their progressive rock roots to a more radio-friendly, pop rock sound, and included the band's first UK Top 10 and US Top 40 single, "Follow You Follow Me". The level of commercial success that Genesis had reached by this time allowed Collins and his wife to move into Old Croft, a home in Shalford, Surrey, in the spring of 1978.

Collins pursued various guest spots and solo projects from his time as Genesis's drummer. In 1973, he and Hackett were among the musicians that performed on the solo debut of ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks. In 1975, Collins sang and played drums, vibraphone, and percussion on Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte; performed on Eno's albums Another Green World, Before and After Science, and Music for Films; and replaced drummer Phil Spinelli of the jazz fusion group Brand X before recording their first two albums, Unorthodox Behaviour and Moroccan Roll. Collins played percussion on Johnny the Fox by Thin Lizzy, and sang on Anthony Phillips' debut solo album, The Geese & the Ghost.

1978–1984: Solo debut with Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going!

After Genesis finished touring in December 1978, the group went on hiatus after Collins went to Vancouver, Canada to try and save his failing marriage. The attempt failed, leaving his wife to return to England with their children while living apart. Collins returned to Old Croft, their home in Shalford, Surrey, and their divorce was finalised in 1981. Banks and Rutherford were recording their first solo albums during this time, so Collins rejoined Brand X for their album Product and its accompanying tour, played on John Martyn's album Grace and Danger, and started writing demos of his own at home. This was followed by Genesis resuming activity and recording and touring through 1980 with their album Duke (1980). The three members contributed two tracks each; Collins put forward "Please Don't Ask" and "Misunderstanding".

Phil Collins 1981
Collins performing in 1981

In February 1981, Collins released his debut solo album Face Value. He signed with Virgin Records and WEA for American distribution in order to distance himself from the Charisma label, and oversaw every step of its production; he wrote the liner notes himself and by hand. His divorce was the focus of its lyrical themes and song titles: "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." Collins produced the album in collaboration with Hugh Padgham, with whom he had worked on Peter Gabriel's self-titled 1980 album. Face Value reached number one on the UK Albums Chart. It was also an international success, reaching number one in six other countries and number seven in the US where it went on to sell 5 million copies. "In the Air Tonight", the album's lead single, became a hit and reached number two in the UK charts. The song is known for the gated reverb effect used on Collins's drums, a technique developed by Padgham when he worked as an engineer on Gabriel's song "Intruder", on which Collins played drums.

Following an invitation by record producer Martin Lewis, Collins performed live as a solo artist at an Amnesty International benefit show The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London in September 1981, performing "In the Air Tonight" and "The Roof Is Leaking". Collins also worked again with John Martyn in this year, producing his album Glorious Fool. In September 1981, Genesis released Abacab. This was followed by its 1981 supporting tour and a two-month tour in 1982 promoting the Genesis live album Three Sides Live. In early 1982, Collins produced and played on Something's Going On, the third solo album by Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA, and performed most of the drum parts on Pictures at Eleven, the first solo album by Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. In October 1982, Collins took part in the one-off Genesis reunion concert Six of the Best held at the Milton Keynes Bowl in Buckinghamshire, which marked the return of Gabriel on lead vocals and Hackett on guitar.

Collins's second solo album, Hello, I Must Be Going!, was released in November 1982. His marital problems continued to provide inspiration for his songs, including "I Don't Care Anymore" and "Do You Know, Do You Care". The album reached number 2 in the UK and number 8 in the US, where it sold 3 million copies. Its second single, a cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, became Collins's first UK number one single and went to number 10 in the US. Collins supported the album with the Hello, I Must Be Going! tour of Europe and North America from November 1982 to February 1983. Following the tour, Collins played drums on Plant's second solo album, The Principle of Moments, and produced and played on two tracks for Adam Ant's album "Strip", "Puss 'n Boots" and the title track. In May 1983, Collins, Banks and Rutherford recorded a self-titled Genesis album; its tour ended with five shows in Birmingham, England in February 1984. The latter shows were filmed and released as Genesis Live – The Mama Tour.

1984–1989: No Jacket Required and commercial ubiquity

Collins wrote and performed on "Against All Odds", the main theme for the romantic film of the same name, which demonstrated a more pop-oriented and commercially accessible sound than his previous work. Released in February 1984, it was the first single of his solo career to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it peaked at number two in the UK. Collins won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. The song also earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, and he arranged his 1985 tour to accommodate the possibility of performing it at the awards ceremony. However, a note to Atlantic Records from show producer Larry Gelbart explaining a lack of invitation stated: "Thank you for your note regarding Phil Cooper [sic]. I'm afraid the spots have already been filled", and Collins watched actress and dancer Ann Reinking perform it. The Los Angeles Times said: "Reinking did an incredible job of totally destroying a beautiful song." 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."

In 1984, Collins contributed to the production on Chinese Wall by Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey, which included a duet from the two, "Easy Lover". The song was number one in the UK for four weeks, and peaked at number 2 in the US. He also produced and played drums on several tracks on Behind the Sun by Eric Clapton. In November, Collins was part of the charity supergroup Band Aid in aid of Ethiopian famine relief and played drums on its single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?".

Collins's third album, No Jacket Required, was recorded in 1984 and marked a turning point in his output. He departed from lyrics about his personal life and wrote more upbeat and dance-orientated songs with strong hooks and melodies, such as "Sussudio", "One More Night", "Take Me Home". The album also guest backing vocals from Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Helen Terry. No Jacket Required was released in February 1985 and became a huge worldwide success, reaching number one in several countries. "Sussudio" and "One More Night" topped the US singles chart, and "Don't Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home" made the US top ten. The album remains Collins's most successful of his career, selling over 12 million copies in the US and 1.9 million in the UK.

Although the album was criticised for being overly commercial, David Fricke of Rolling Stone wrote: "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's expectations next time around." "Sussudio" attracted negative attention for sounding too similar to Prince's "1999", a charge that Collins did not deny, and its hook line has been named as the most widely disliked element of his career. No Jacket Required earned Collins the first two of his six Brit Awards, winning Best British Male and Best British Album. Collins scored three US number one songs in 1985, the most by any artist that year. No Jacket Required won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.

Wembley Stadium Twin Towers
On 13 July 1985 Collins played at Live Aid at the old Wembley Stadium (exterior pictured) in London, before taking a transatlantic Concorde flight to perform at the Philadelphia leg of the event later that day

The No Jacket Required World Tour saw Collins perform 85 shows between February and July 1985. On 13 July, Collins took part in the Live Aid concerts, a continuation of the fundraising effort started by Band Aid. Collins was the only performer to appear at the London concert at Wembley Stadium and the US concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on the same day. After performing "Against All Odds", "In the Air Tonight", and playing alongside Sting, Collins flew to Philadelphia on a Concorde to perform his solo material, play drums for Clapton, and drum with Plant and Jimmy Page for a Led Zeppelin reunion. The latter performance was poorly received and later disowned by the band. Page later said that Collins had not learned his parts for the set. Collins responded that the band "weren't very good", that a "dribbling" Page had made him feel uncomfortable, and only continued with the set rather than leave the stage in order to avoid negative attention. In November 1985, the song "Separate Lives", a duet featuring Collins and Marilyn Martin for the musical drama film White Nights, was released and became a US number one hit.

Phil Collins 1980s (cropped)
Collins in the late 1980s

By the end of 1985, the music press noted that Collins's 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 and that he felt "happier with what we're doing now, because I feel it's closer to me." In October 1985, he reunited with Banks and Rutherford to record Genesis's thirteenth album, Invisible Touch. Released in 1986, it became the group's biggest selling album with 6 million copies sold in the US, and 1.2 million sold in the UK. Its title track was released as a single and reached No. 1 in the US, the only Genesis song to do so. The group received a Grammy Award (their only one) and a nomination for the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1987 for "Land of Confusion", which features puppet caricatures from the British satirical program Spitting Image. Several music critics drew comparisons between the album and Collins's 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". March 1986 saw the release of "No One Is to Blame", a hit single by Howard Jones which included Collins on drums, backing vocals, and co-production alongside Padgham. Collins was one of the drummers, backing vocalists, and producers on Eric Clapton's 1986 album August.

After touring with Genesis in 1987, Collins was aware that his music had gained too much exposure and took a year off from writing and recording. He took on his first acting role since the late 1960s, starring as Buster Edwards opposite Julie Walters (who played his wife, June) in the romantic comedy drama-crime film Buster which centred around the Great Train Robbery from 1963 in Ledburn, Buckinghamshire. Reviews for the film were mixed. Collins contributed four songs to the film's soundtrack; his ballad rendition of "A Groovy Kind of Love", originally by the Mindbenders, became his only single to reach No. 1 in the UK and the US. The film also spawned the US #1 single "Two Hearts", which he co-wrote with Lamont Dozier and won the pair a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Oscar nomination in the same category. Film critic Roger Ebert said Collins "played [the role of Buster] with surprising effectiveness". In 1988, Collins was the subject of an episode of the British TV series This Is Your Life.

1989–1996: ...But Seriously, Both Sides, and leaving Genesis

In August 1989, Collins appeared as a special guest for The Who on their 1989 tour for two shows, performing "Fiddle About" as Uncle Ernie and "Tommy's Holiday Camp" from their rock opera Tommy (1969).

From April to October 1989, Collins recorded his fourth album ...But Seriously in England and Los Angeles, which saw him address social and political themes in his lyrics. The album was released in November 1989 to worldwide commercial success, spending No. 1 in the UK for fifteen weeks and in the US for three. It became the UK's best-selling album of 1990 and is among the best-selling albums in UK chart history. It is the second best-selling album in Germany. Its lead single "Another Day in Paradise" is an anti-homelessness song and features David Crosby singing backing vocals. Upon its release in October 1989, it went to No. 1 in the US to become the final number one single there of the 1980s. Despite its success, the song was also heavily criticised and became linked to allegations of hypocrisy made against Collins. Responding to criticism of the song, 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." In 1991, "Another Day in Paradise" won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Other songs from ...But Seriously also reached the top-five in the US: "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven", "Do You Remember?", and "I Wish It Would Rain Down" featuring Eric Clapton on guitar.

...But Seriously was supported with the Seriously, Live! World Tour which ran between February and October 1990 and covered 121 dates. The tour spawned the live album Serious Hits... Live!, which sold 1.2 million copies in the UK and over 4 million in the US. In February 1990, Collins performed "Another Day in Paradise" at the 1990 Brit Awards which won British Single of the Year, and in September he performed "Sussudio" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. He also played drums on the 1989 Tears for Fears single, "Woman in Chains".

In 1991, Collins reconvened with Banks and Rutherford to write and record a new Genesis album, We Can't Dance. It became the band's fifth consecutive No. 1 album in the UK and reached No. 4 in the US, where it sold over 4 million copies. It features the singles "Jesus He Knows Me", "I Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine", and "Hold on My Heart". Collins performed on their 1992 tour. At the 1993 American Music Awards, Genesis won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group. Collins co-wrote, sang and played on the 1993 single "Hero" by David Crosby.

Collins worked on his fifth studio album, Both Sides, in 1992 and 1993. It marked a departure from his more polished and up-tempo songs on recent albums to material more experimental in nature, with Collins performing all the instruments and producing the record himself, because the songs written "were becoming so personal, so private, I didn't want anyone else's input". The decline of his second marriage was a focal point of the album. Released in November 1993, Both Sides reached No. 1 in eight countries, including the UK, and No. 13 in the US. It marked a drop in sales in the latter when compared to his previous records, only reaching a single platinum certification by the end of the year. Its two biggest singles were "Both Sides of the Story" and "Everyday". The Both Sides of the World Tour saw Collins perform 165 shows across four legs between April 1994 and May 1995. Collins turned down the chance to contribute to Tower of Song, an album of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, due to his touring commitments. On 29 March 1996, Collins's decision to leave Genesis to concentrate on his solo career was publicly announced.

1996–2006: Phil Collins Big Band, Dance into the Light, Disney work, and Testify

Phil Collins
Collins performing with his big band in 1996

In the months surrounding his departure from Genesis, Collins formed the Phil Collins Big Band, seating himself on the drums. He had wanted to undertake the project for some time and felt inspired from the Burning for Buddy project that drummer Neil Peart had put together. Having moved to Switzerland, an invitation to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival led to the band to come together, which featured Quincy Jones as conductor and Tony Bennett on vocals. The group toured summer jazz festivals in July 1996 with a set of jazz renditions of Genesis and Collins' solo material. Their first date was at the Royal Albert Hall for a Prince's Trust concert with Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela in attendance. To learn his parts, Collins devised his own notation on sheets. The band then went on hiatus until a US and European tour in the summer of 1998, which spawned the live album A Hot Night in Paris.

In October 1996, Collins released his sixth solo album, Dance into the Light. It reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 23 in the US. The album was received negatively by the music press and sold less than his previous albums. Entertainment Weekly reviewed by saying that "even Phil Collins must know that we all grew weary of Phil Collins". Singles from the album included "Dance into the Light", which reached No. 9 in the UK, and the Beatles-inspired "It's in Your Eyes". The album was certified Gold in the US. Collins toured the album throughout 1997 with his Trip into the Light World Tour, covering 82 dates. He performed "In the Air Tonight" and "Take Me Home" at the Music for Montserrat benefit concert in London alongside Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Sting.

In October 1998, Collins released his first compilation album ...Hits which contains a new track, a cover of "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper that was produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. The album was a commercial success worldwide, reaching No. 1 in the UK charts and selling 3.4 million copies in the US by 2012.

Phil Collins Duesseldorf
Collins on his First Farewell Tour in 2005

In the mid-1990s Collins was recruited to write and perform songs for its adventure film Tarzan (1999), integrated with a score by Mark Mancina. Collins also sang his songs in French, Italian, German, and Spanish for the dubbed versions of the film's soundtrack. His song "You'll Be in My Heart" was released in June 1999 and spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the longest time ever up to that point. In 2000, the song won Collins an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Original Song. He performed "Two Worlds" at that year's ceremony and the Disney-themed Super Bowl halftime show.

In June 1999, Collins was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000, he became partially deaf in one ear due to a viral infection. In June 2002, Collins accepted an invitation to drum for the house band at the Party at the Palace concert held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, an event which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. In 2002, he received the Disney Legend award.

On 11 November 2002, Collins released his seventh solo album, 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 single "Can't Stop Loving You" (a Leo Sayer cover) was a number-one Adult Contemporary hit. Testify sold 140,000 copies in the US by year's end.

Disney hired Collins to compose and perform on the soundtrack to its 2003 animated feature Brother Bear, which included the song "Look Through My Eyes". In the same year he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. From June 2004 to November 2005, Collins performed his First Final Farewell Tour, a reference to the multiple farewell tours of other popular artists. In 2006, he worked with Disney on a musical production of Tarzan.

2006–2015: First Genesis reunion, Going Back, and retirement

2369 - Philadelphia - Wachovia Center - Genesis - I Can't Dance
Collins (right) performing with Genesis in 2007

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 they were honoured 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. On 22 May 2008 Collins received his sixth Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors when he was presented the International Achievement Award at a ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

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 a spinal operation. The resulting album, Going Back, was released on 13 September 2010. It reached number one on the UK Albums Chart. In summer 2010, Collins played six concerts with the music from Going Back. These included a special programme, Phil Collins: One Night Only, aired on ITV1 on 18 September 2010. Collins also promoted Going Back with his first and only appearance on the BBC's 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. 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 July 2012, Collins's greatest hits collection ...Hits re-entered the US charts, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard 200.

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.

On 24 January 2014, Collins announced in an interview with Inside South Florida that he was writing new compositions with fellow English singer Adele. Collins said he had no idea who Adele was when he learned she wanted to collaborate with him. He said "I wasn't actually too aware [of her]. I live in a cave." Collins agreed to join her in the studio after hearing her voice. He said, "[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 in December at a benefit concert in Miami in aid of his Little Dreams Foundation charity. He ultimately missed the concert due to illness.

2015–present: Out of retirement, Not Dead Yet Tour, and second Genesis reunion

Phil Collins - Royal Albert Hall - Wednesday 7th June 2017 PhilCollinsRAH070617-7 (35215802066)
Collins on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, London on 7 June 2017

In May 2015, Collins signed a deal with Warner Music Group to have his solo albums remastered and reissued with previously unreleased material. In October of that year, he announced that he was no longer retired and had started plans to tour and make a new album. By mid-2016, all eight of his albums were reissued with the artwork updated to display Collins as his older self, the exception being Going Back, which had a new cover. In 2019, the additional digital only releases Other Sides and Remixed Sides followed.

In October 2016, Collins's autobiography Not Dead Yet was published. At a press conference held at the Royal Albert Hall in the same month, Collins announced his Not Dead Yet Tour which initially took form as a short European trek from June 2017. The tour included five nights at the Royal Albert Hall which sold out in fifteen seconds, prompting the announcement of Collins's headline spot at the 2017 BST Hyde Park festival which became his largest solo concert. His band included his son Nicolas on the drums. A review in The Telegraph stated: "Unlike the body, the voice is largely unravaged by time. It's still soulful, sometimes silky, occasionally bruised." In 2017, the tour was extended worldwide and ran until October 2019 for a total of 97 shows.

In March 2020, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford announced they had reformed Genesis once more to undertake The Last Domino? Tour. This time the band were joined by Collins's son Nic on the drums, leaving his father to handle lead vocals. After the tour was rescheduled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it began in September 2021 and finished in London on 26 March 2022. At the last show, at the O2 Arena in London, Collins said on stage: "It's the last show for Genesis".

Drumming and influence

In his book on the "legends" who defined progressive rock drumming, American drummer Rich Lackowski 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. In 2015, MusicRadar named Collins one of the six pioneers of progressive rock drumming. In 2005, Planet Rock listeners voted Collins the fifth greatest rock drummer in history. Collins was ranked tenth 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. In 1987, Collins looked back at his fast playing in Brand X and early Genesis: "I actually can't play like that anymore".

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins cited Collins as one of his drumming heroes. He 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 interview when asked about drummers he was influenced by and had respect for. In another conversation in 2014, Portnoy lauded his "amazing progressive drumming" back in the early and mid-1970s. Rush drummer Neil Peart 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". Marco Minnemann, drummer for artists including Joe Satriani and Steven Wilson, described Collins as "brilliant" for the way "he composes his parts, and the sounds he gets". He said, "Phil is almost like John Bonham to me. I hear his personality, his perspective." He singled out the drumming on "In the Air Tonight" as an example of "ten notes that everybody knows" and concluded "Phil is a insanely talented drummer."

Other drummers who have cited him as an influence or expressed admiration for his drumming work are Brann Dailor of Mastodon, Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard and Big Big Train, Jimmy Keegan of Spock's Beard, Matt Mingus of Dance Gavin Dance, John Merryman of Cephalic Carnage, Craig Blundell of Steven Wilson and Frost*, and Charlie Benante of Anthrax. According to Jason Bonham, his father "respected Phil Collins' drumming very much" and one of his favourite songs was Genesis' "Turn It On Again", which he used to love playing with him.

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.


Gretsch drums
Collins has used Gretsch drums since 1983.

Collins is a left-handed drummer, and uses Gretsch drums, Noble & Cooley solid snare drums, Remo heads, Sabian cymbals and he uses his signature Promark sticks. Past kits he used were made by Pearl and Premier.

Other instruments associated with Collins's sound (particularly in his post-1978 Genesis and solo career) include the Roland TR-808, Roland TR-909, the Simmons SDS-V electronic drum set, and the LinnDrum drum machines. Collins also used a Roland CR-78, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, the Fender Rhodes and Yamaha CP-70 electric pianos, and a vocoder for his voice. Other Korg instruments include the Wavestation, the Karma and the Trinity.

Cameo film and television appearances

Collins had cameo appearances in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991) and the AIDS docudrama And the Band Played On (1993). He starred in 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 Collins, Danny DeVito, and Bob Hoskins. He often mentioned the film, though an appropriate script never materialised. 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."

During the 1980s, Collins was among the celebrities caricatured on the satirical television puppet show Spitting Image—the show's creators were then commissioned by Genesis to create puppets of the entire band to appear in their 1986 music video "Land of Confusion". Collins twice hosted the Billboard Music Awards on television, which were produced and directed by his longtime music video and TV special collaborators, Paul Flattery and Jim Yukich of FYI (Flattery Yukich Inc). He also appeared in an episode of the series Miami Vice, entitled "Phil the Shill", in which he plays a cheating con-man. In the 1980s he appeared in several comedy sketches with The Two Ronnies on BBC One.

Phil Collins star
Collins' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was awarded to the musician for his contribution to recording. It is located at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard

In 2006, Collins played a fictional version of himself in the 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 Mafia-hired hitmen, who are trying to kill Collins because his manager refused to pay his $3 million debt to them. The final mission occurs during his concert, where the player must defend the scaffolding against saboteurs while Collins is performing "In the Air Tonight". After this, the player is given the opportunity to watch this performance of "In the Air Tonight" for the cost of 6,000 in-game dollars. "In the Air Tonight" is part of the official Vice City Stories soundtrack, and can be also heard on the in-game radio station Emotion 98.3. The song has also been featured in films such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (2007) and The Hangover (2009).

"In the Air Tonight" featured in the 2007 Gorilla commercial for Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. Many believed that Collins himself was the drummer. When asked about Gorilla, Collins jokingly commented that "Not only is he a better drummer than me, he also has more hair. Can he sing too?" The advertisement—which won Gold at the British Television Advertising Awards in 2008—helped the song re-enter the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart at No. 3 in July 2008, the following week reaching No. 1, beating its original 1981 No. 6 peak. "In the Air Tonight" was also sampled in the song "I Can Feel It" 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. The show's creators admitted resenting losing to Collins, as they felt their other competitors were more worthy. The episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" involves a sled race down the landmark known as Phil Collins Hill, which has an impression of Collins' face in the side. The Phil Collins character returns once more and gets killed off in the episode 200.

Phil Collins - BST Hyde Park - Friday 30th June 2017 PCollinsBST300617-26 (35649688476)
Collins performing to 65,000 at Hyde Park, London on 30 June 2017.

Personal life

Family and relationships

Collins has divorced three times. From 1975 to 1980, he was married to Canadian-born Andrea Bertorelli. They met as 11-year-old students in a London drama class and reconnected in 1974 when Genesis performed in Vancouver. They married in England in 1975 when both were 24, after which Collins legally adopted Bertorelli's daughter Joely (b. 1972), who became an actress and film producer. They also had a son, Simon Collins (b. 1976), who is the former vocalist and drummer of the progressive rock band Sound of Contact. In 2016, Bertorelli took legal action against Collins pertaining to his account of their relationship in his autobiography.

In 1984, Collins married American-born Jill Tavelman. They have one daughter, Lily Collins (b. 1989), who became an actress. In 1994, Collins openly stated that he had fallen out of love with Tavelman and had filed for divorce, which finalised in 1996. As part of the settlement, Collins paid £17 million to Tavelman.

In 1999, Collins married Orianne Cevey, a Swiss national who worked as his translator at the start of his 1994 tour when she was 22. They have two sons, Nicholas and Matthew. They lived in the former house of Jackie Stewart in Begnins, Switzerland. In 2006 they divorced. Collins paid £25 million to Cevey, which became the largest settlement in a British celebrity divorce. Collins continued to live in Féchy, Switzerland, while he also maintained homes in New York City and Dersingham, Norfolk.

From 2007 to 2016, Collins was in a relationship with American news anchor Dana Tyler. In 2008, Cevey and her two sons moved to Miami, Florida. In January 2016, after moving to Miami Beach, Florida in the previous year to be closer to his two youngest sons, Collins reunited with Cevey and they lived together in Miami. In October 2020, Collins filed an eviction notice against Cevey after she secretly married another man in August. Collins sold his Miami home in 2021, for $39 million.

Collins' brother Clive was a cartoonist. Phil appeared at his brother's investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2012 when he was awarded an MBE for services to art, with Phil stating, "I shared a bedroom with him when we were boys and he was always drawing. He used to do Christmas cards and birthday cards for the family."


In 2012, Collins was estimated to be the second-wealthiest drummer in the world, surpassed only by Ringo Starr. Collins was estimated to have a fortune of £120 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2018, making him one of the 25 wealthiest people in the British music industry.


In 1999, Collins developed sudden hearing loss in his left ear following a recording session in Los Angeles. He consulted three doctors, who told him that there was nothing they could do and that the chance of a full recovery was slim. Two years later, he had recovered most of his hearing. Collins later found that it was caused by a viral infection, and that it resolved after treatment.

In April 2009, Collins had surgery on his upper neck, to correct an issue that began while drumming on the 2007 Genesis tour. Following the operation, he lost feeling in his fingers and could only grip drumsticks if they were taped to his hands. In 2014, Collins said that he was still unable to play the drums and that it was not arthritis, but an undiagnosed nerve problem. In 2015, he underwent a spine operation. In 2016, he said he was still unable to drum with his left hand. His doctor advised him that if he wanted to play the drums again, he would need to take it "step by step" and "practice".

In January 2017, Collins said he was a type 2 diabetic and had received treatment with a hyperbaric chamber after developing a diabetic abscess on his foot that became infected.

In 2017, Collins began to use a cane to assist with walking, and to sit in a chair while performing on stage.

Honorary degrees

Collins has received several honorary degrees in recognition of his work in music and 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. 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 other interests section).


Collins has often been mentioned erroneously in the British media as being a supporter of the Conservative Party and a critic of the Labour Party.

Questioned about his politics by Mark Lawson in an interview for the BBC, 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." In a 2016 interview in The Guardian, Collins stated that talking about politics to The Sun was one of his biggest regrets. When asked whether he had ever voted Conservative, he said: "I didn't vote, actually. And that's not something I'm proud of. I was just so busy that I rarely was here."

Collins is a member of the Canadian charity Artists Against Racism and has worked with them on campaigns including radio PSAs. In October 2020, Collins issued a cease and desist order to Donald Trump and his campaign for playing "In the Air Tonight" at a rally.

Other interests

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 has 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, 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. Like Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young, Collins is a model railway enthusiast. He also has an interest in King & Country toy soldiers.

Charity work

Collins has performed at the Secret Policeman's Ball, a benefit show co-founded by Monty Python member John Cleese on behalf of Amnesty International. He made his first appearance at the 1981 show held in London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and he subsequently became an activist. Collins was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in the 1994 Birthday Honours, in recognition of his work on behalf of The Prince's Trust, a leading UK youth charity founded by King Charles III (then-Prince of Wales) which provides training, personal development, business start up support, mentoring, and advice. Since appearing at the first Prince's Trust's rock concert in 1982 which included a performance as part of singer Kate Bush's backing band, Collins has played at the event numerous times since, most recently at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010.

On 9 April 1989, Collins topped the bill at a benefit concert for the veteran English comic actor Terry-Thomas. Held at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the event raised over £75,000 for Terry-Thomas and Parkinson's UK.

Collins has stated he is a supporter of animal rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In 2005 he donated autographed drumsticks in support of PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In February 2000, Collins and Cevey launched the Little Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organisation that 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 took the action after receiving letters from children asking him how they could break into the music industry. Mentors to the students who have benefited from his foundation include Tina Turner and Natalie Cole. In 2013 he visited Miami Beach, Florida, to promote the expansion of his foundation.

Collins supports the South African charity 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.

Awards and nominations


Studio albums

  • Face Value (1981)
  • Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982)
  • No Jacket Required (1985)
  • ...But Seriously (1989)
  • Both Sides (1993)
  • Dance into the Light (1996)
  • Testify (2002)
  • Going Back (2010)

Concert tours

  • The Hello, I Must Be Going Tour (1982–1983)
  • The No Jacket Required World Tour (1985)
  • Seriously, Live! World Tour (1990)
  • Both Sides of the World Tour (1994–1995)
  • Trip into the Light World Tour (1997)
  • The First Final Farewell Tour (2004–2005)
  • Not Dead Yet Tour (2017–2019)



Year Title Role Notes
1964 A Hard Day's Night Seated Fan with Necktie
1967 Calamity the Cow Mike Lucas
1968 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Vulgarian Child
1970 I Start Counting Ice Cream Vendor
1988 Buster Buster Edwards
1991 Hook Inspector Good
1993 Frauds Roland Copping
And the Band Played On Eddie Papasano TV movie
1995 Balto Muk / Luk (voice)
2003 The Jungle Book 2 Lucky (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1965 R3 Terry Episode: "Unwelcome Visitor"
1966 Thirty-Minute Theatre Gwyn Episode: "A Letter from the Country"
1985 Miami Vice Phil Mayhew Episode: "Phil the Shill"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories Himself (voice)


  • The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey (2012)
  • Not Dead Yet: The Autobiography (2016)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Phil Collins para niños

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