Philip David Charles Collins was born in 1951 in Chiswick, London. His love affair with drums started when he was five years of age and was given a toy drum kit for Christmas. Later his uncle made him a makeshift kit and eventually aged 12, he got a full set. He practiced incessantly but never learned to read and write conventional musical notation instead his own system. Aged 14, Phil went to the Barbara Speake Stage School to study acting and landed a part as the Artful Dodger in London's West End production of Oliver. Despite the beginnings of an acting career, Phil continued to gravitate toward music and formed his first band called The Real Thing and later joined The Freehold after answering an advert in the Melody Maker. Phil switched to become the drummer with Flaming Youth and the band released a single album in 1969 but despite good reviews it made no commercial impact and the band dissolved not long after.
Phil answered another Melody Maker ad, this time from a struggling young band from Surrey, called Genesis. They had been gigging up and down the country without much success, and were still recovering from the departure of guitarist Anthony Phillips. Genesis wanted to change their drummer and held the audition at Peter Gabriel's parents' house; Collins memorized the drumming and was in. The group soon felt the benefit of their new percussionist as he injected a new energy into their performances. Although his role would remain drummer and occasional backing vocalist for the next five years, he twice sang lead vocals on "For Absent Friends" (from Nursery Cryme) and "More Fool Me" (from Selling England by the Pound) (1973).
When lead singer Peter Gabriel quit in 1975 to pursue solo projects, Phil carried on as lead vocalist. The first album with Phil as lead vocalist, was A Trick of the Tail (1976), reached the American Top 40, and climbed as high as #3 on the UK charts.
"Follow You, Follow Me" (1978), demonstrated a drastic change from their previous works of progressive rock instead Follow you, follow me was more pop and Phil helped Genesis become one of the leading bads of the time.
Although he was enjoying working in Genesis he was also ambitious to pursue a solo career. In 1981 Phil released a debut solo single "In The Air Tonight" which reached the charts in the US and UK.
His first solo album, Face Value, met with popular acclaim and made Phil Collins a solo star.
He followed this with Hello I Must Be Going, which again sold well with the single You can’t hurry love, an up-tempo cover of the old Supremes song, went to number one in the UK.
During the ‘80s, Genesis scored a string of successful albums, including Duke (1980), Abacab (1981), Genesis (1983) and Invisible Touch (1986). Phil’s last studio album as the lead singer of Genesis was We Can't Dance (1991).
Phil left Genesis in 1996 to focus on his solo career but did reunite with Genesis (including Peter Gabriel) in 1999 to re-record "The Carpet Crawlers" for Genesis' Turn It On Again: The Hits.
In 1985, Phil was invited to perform at Live Aid, Bob Geldof's charity concert, at both Wembley Stadium in England, and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia in the U.S. He accomplished this by performing earlier in the day at Wembley as both a solo artist and alongside Sting, then boarding a Concorde to perform his solo material, and drum for Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton in Philadelphia.
Phil’s most successful solo album was No Jacket Required. It contained the hits "Sussudio", "One More Night" and "Take Me Home".
The album featured Sting, Helen Terry and ex-band mate Peter Gabriel as backing vocalists. He also recorded the successful song "Separate Lives", a duet with Marilyn Martin, and an American number one, for the movie White Nights.
In 1988 Phil starred in the movie Buster about the Great Train Robbery, which received good reviews.
Phil sang three songs including “Two Hearts" which he co-wrote with legendary Lamont Dozier.
In 1993 Phil’s record sales were dropping as music tastes were changing. Phil was preoccupied with his personal life and his music became self indulgent although he did return to popier music with the album, Dance into the Light.
Phil continues to perform and has written film music and keeps busy acting and doing voice-overs.
Worth a listen:
In the Air Tonight (1981)
You can’t hurry love (1982)
Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (1984)
One more night (1985)
A groovy kind of love (1988)
Another Day in Paradise (1989)
Follow you follow me (1978)
Turn it on again (1980)
No son of mine (1991)
I cant dance (1991)