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Artists Profile: Phil Collins

Artists Profile Phil Collins


Phil Collins (born in London, England, 1951) is an English singer-songwriter and drummer, who were one of the most well-known members of the band Genesis. Collins came in 1970 to replace the band’s second drummer John Mayhew, and when Genesis rose to fame Peter Gabriel decided to strike out on his own in mid-1975; Collins was then appointed as the new lead singer. Shifting from progressive rock into a more accessible sound, Genesis became one of the hottest bands in the 1980s, scoring many hits on both sides of the Atlantic, and their album Invisible Touch was a multi-platinum success. In 1981 Collins had launched his solo career while still with the band through his debut album Face Value. But it wasn’t until he scored his first solid hit in 1984 with “Against All Odds” which was also the soundtrack of the motion picture of the same name. His other big hits include “Easy Lover,” “Sussudio,” “”One More Night,” “Don’t Lose My Number,” “Take Me Home,” “Two Hearts,” “Another Day In Paradise,” “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” “Do You Remember,” “Something Happened On The Way To Heaven,”  and many other Top 40 singles. He quit Genesis in 1996, concentrating more on his solo career with the formation of his own jazz/big-band-oriented act The Phil Collins Big Band. Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2010. They’re not only favorites by the oldies music enthusiasts but for all other music fans of any age.

Early life and career

Phil Collins was born Philip David Charles Collins in Chiswick, Middlesex, England on January 30 1951. He began his showbiz career as a child actor and singer who made appearances on several productions, from plays to films. Like many other British kids at that time, Collins was influenced by the Beatles’ music, specifically Ringo Starr’s drumming. Interesting trivia: he made a cameo appearance on the Fab Four’s movie A Hard Days’ Night.

When he was a teenager, he started to learn playing the drums. The first band he joined was Flaming Youth, who released only one album Ark 2 in October 1969. Despite glowing critical reviews, it failed to fly off commercially. That, plus the tensions which arose from touring, caused the band to disintegrate.

Phil Collins as a member of Genesis — from drummer to front man

Click the full biography of Genesis — History of Genesis

Phil Collins became the drummer of the Surrey-based rock band Genesis in 1970 following the departure of the band’s second drummer John Mayhew. Apart from hitting the skins, Collins would do lead vocals occasionally. Many would say that Genesis became a better band with the addition of Phil Collins in the lineup. For more information on other bands that improved with new drummers, check out our article, Bands that Became Better with New Drummers.

Genesis was then fronted by Peter Gabriel. Around that time, the band had undergone a new phase from being a melodic pop band during the 1960s to a progressive rock group during the 1970s. They released several elaborate classic rock and concept albums to moderate success on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1974 Gabriel quit the band to embark a solo career (which became successful). His abrupt exit forced his remaining band mates to look for a new lead vocalist and frontman. They went on to hold over 400 auditions for a new lead singer, but found no success. It was at this point where they decided that Collins instead would be their new frontman and lead singer, to which he agreed.

Along with Collins’ transfer from the guy behind the kit to the man behind the mic, was the gradual transformation of Genesis’ sound once more. From melodic pop in the 60s to progressive rock in the 70s, the band switched to a more accessible pop-rock sound. Genesis used Collins’ distinctively throaty voice to great effect. Result was their new album And Then There Were Three… which became certified gold in 1978. They followed this with Duke (1980) and Abacab (1981) which became even more successful.

Success in the 1980s as a solo artist and as member of Genesis

The 80s music era became Phil Collins’ most commercially successful decade. In 1981 he released his first solo album Face Value. It was rather unexpected that Face Value turned out to be even much more successful than anything he had done with Genesis. It spawned the hit singles “In the Air Tonight” and “I Missed Again,” both of which landed at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While Collins’ solo career was seeing growing successes, he still remained as the lead singer of Genesis. The band achieved their first Top 10 hit with “That’s All,” their last single from their 1983 self-titled album; it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 later that same year.

Collins went on to experience massive success in his solo career. He wrote, sang and recorded the song “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” for the soundtrack to the film of the same name. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, becoming the first of Collins’ seven chart-topping singles on the said chart.

He experienced the peak of commercial success when he released his third solo effort No Jacket Required in 1985. It spawned several hit singles on the Hot 100 including the number one’s “Sussudio” and “One More Night,” and other Top 10 hits “Don’t Lose My Number” (#4) and “Take Me Home” (#7). No Jacket Required has sold over 12 million copies and reached “diamond” status.

Similarly, Genesis was on the rise as well. They achieved their first #1 hit single with “Invisible Touch,” the title track of their 1986 album. Invisible Touch also yielded other Top 10 pop hits in America: “Throwing It All Away,” “Land of Confusion,” “In Too Deep,” and “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” The album went on to become Genesis’ best-selling album ever, having sold six million copies in the US alone.

Collins recorded another hit soundtrack theme song “Two Hearts” for the movie Buster in 1988. Co-written by Collins and the legendary Lamont Dozier, it reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and adult contemporary charts.

He released his fourth studio album … But Seriously (1989), which contained the would-be hit songs “Another Day in Paradise,” “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” “Do You Remember?” and “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.” “Another Day in Paradise” went to #1 on both pop and adult contemporary singles charts, and won several awards including the “Best British Single” at the BRIT Awards and a Grammy Award for “Record of the Year” in 1991. Truly, it is one of the Phil Collins’ more famous songs. “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” “Do You Remember?” and “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” went to #3, #4 and #4, repectively, on the Hot 100. Looks like there was no stopping Phil Collins’ success during his golden decade.

Career in the 1990s

Genesis released We Can’t Dance in 1992 and embarked on an extensive tour; the single “I Can’t Dance” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100. Following the tour’s completion Collins release his fifth solo album Both Sides in 1993. The record was decidedly more downbeat compared to his previous works. It features Collins’ more personal side, and also sees him playing all the instruments by himself for the first and only time of his career.

Both Sides was Collins’ first album not to produce a major hit single. The two first singles “Both Sides of the Story” and “Everyday” only peaked at #25 and #24, respectively. What’s more, critics began to pick at his album’s slow and dark songs. Nevertheless, Both Sides reached #13 on the Billboard 200, and its supporting tour became a huge success.

In 1996 Collins left Genesis for good to concentrate further on his solo career. He then released another solo effort Dance into the Night. Although the album failed to make it big on the charts, the supporting tour became a success. Despite this, it was a clear indication that Collins’ dominance on the charts was now over, for the exception of his compilation album … Hits in 1998 which went multi-platinum.

He went into the “big band” phase, forming his own group The Phil Collins Big Band. In 1999 they released a CD A Hot Night in Paris which featured big band versions of his own hits (mostly). That same year he reunited with Genesis for a one-off project “The Carpet Crawlers” a track for the compilation album Turn It on Again: The Hits.

Collins’ retirement and return

Collins suffered partial deafness in one ear in 2000. Because of this, he was considering retiring from making music. But when his illness was cured he chose to continue his career.

In 2006 he returned to Genesis and together the reunited band kicked off the Turn It on Again: The Tour the following year.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 as a member of Genesis. The following year, Collins responded to rumors of retirement due to his health problems and confirmed that he was indeed opting out of music business in order to focus on his family.

However, in the next few years Collins began to give a few hints that he could be returning. In 2015 he officially went out of retirement by signing with Warner Music to record and release new music. He also plans for a new tour as well as to write an autobiography sometime this year, as of this writing.

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