A multi-talented man, Philip David Charles Collins, offers the world of entertainment so much, but yet is an unassuming gentleman, regardless the fame that he or the group is most associated with, Genesis. In comparison of many artist of his stature, Phil Collins is quiet and lets his musical abilities speak for him.
On January 30, 1951 in Chiswick, London, England, Greville and June Collins welcomed a son to join their 2 other children, Clive and Carol, into their gifted and talented family. Phil Collins interest and love of music began at the age of 5 when he received a toy drum kit. Showing not only interest and talent on the skins, at the age of 12 he got a real drum set and the sound that rocks the world now, was on it’s way.
Taking every opportunity to drum along with songs on the radio or with records, Phil Collins future was building. While a certain talent was shown on this percussion instrument, he also showed talent in acting and modeling as well and had a love for football as well. A student at Chiswick Grammer School, he was a precocious child that reached for perfection in everything he did from music to sports and everything in between.
At the age of 13, he won the role of the Artful Dodger in “Oliver” in the West End production. His mother, a talent agent, was advised by the headmaster at Chiswick Grammar School, that if he were to accept the role with the West End production, he would have to leave the school. His mother left the decision entirely up to Phil, and soon after he joined his mother at Barbara Speake Stage School.
It was there that young Phil would have his first experience in a band with classmates, “The Real Thing” and soon after, he joined the band “Freehold” where ‘Lying Crying Dying’, the first song he wrote, was performed. At 18 Phil would join “Hickory” an unknown rock group and the album ‘Ark II’, an album based on the concept of the first mood landing, was recorded. ‘Ark II’ premiered at the London Planetarium and received favourable responses. The group would change their name to “Flaming Youth” and then disbanded soon after due to weak success.
Phil Collins big break in music came in 1970 when he answered an ad in the Melody Maker classifieds for a drummer and backup vocal. This band from Surrey, was looking for a member to bring not only talent on the skins and vocals, but a positive attitude as well to turn around the struggling group’s simple existence, to something great. This band was “Genesis”.
With the release of ‘Trespass’, Phil’s first album with the group and their second the following it with the release of ‘Crime’ and ‘Foxtrot” in 1971 and 1972 respectively, Mr. Collins had proved his worth and value to the group without a doubt.
In 1972 while Genesis was on tour in America, Phil’s father passed away. His mother said this time and going forward without his father, affected Phil profoundly. He soon moved into his own place in Epsom, perhaps simply because at 21 years old it was time, or to get away from the reminders of dad not there anymore.
‘Genesis Live’ was recorded on their American tour and released in 1973 with ‘Selling England By The Pound’ later. In 1974 ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ was released in 1974 which was then and still to this day, Phil Collin’s all time favorite album. The following year would prove to be a stellar year for Phil Collins.
Peter Gabriel left Genesis for a solo career and Phil replaced him as lead vocalist. Phil met Andrea Bertorelli and they, along with her young daughter, moved to England. They married in 1975 and Phil legally adopted the daughter, Joely. In 1976, Phil and Andrea welcomed a son, Simon, to their family only to divorce in 1980. The couple remains friends even today.
In 1976 the release of ‘A Trick of the Tail’ and ‘Wind & Wuthering’ were mostly of Phil’s writing and were well received. Phil had more control over the music now and was becoming more popular. Soon he would spin a solo career, keeping with Genesis as well. In 1981 the group released ‘Abacab’ and Phil released ‘Face Value’ solo. Both received positive reviews and his solo went gold in 4 months with singles from the album topping charts in UK.
“Hello I Must Be Going”, his 2nd solo album, was released in 1982 with two singles, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and ‘I Don’t Care Anymore’, hitting number 1 in UK. In 1984 the TV show “Miami Vice” featured Phil’s song ‘Air Tonight’ which set Phil Collins up as a household name and ‘I Don’t Care Anymore’ winning a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Performance.
Another stellar year for Phil in 1984 when he wrote the title song for ‘Against All Odds’ from which Phil won Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The song topped the charts. Phil made a mark when he recorded ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ with Band Aid and his performance in 1984 in Live Aid concerts.
1984 would continue with success for Phil Collins. Never turning down the opportunity to play with other artists, Phil recorded ‘Easy Lover’ with “Earth, Wind and Fire” on their album “Chinese Wall”. This single reached number one in the UK and number two in the United States.
On the personal side of Phil’s life, he would met and married a second time, Jill Tavelman.
In 1985 Phil would release “No Jacket Required”, his third solo album. Following suit of his previous album successes, there would be several singles from this one to top charts in the UK and the US too. Two of those singles would make multi-platinum in sales. His desire to perform with other artist brough him another number hit in the US when he recorded ‘Separate Lives’ in 1985 with Marilyn Martin.
With all the solo career success going on, “Genesis” was reaching success as well with number one hits in the US and a world tour in 1986. No matter if Phil Collins was performing with a group or solo, he was a success and winning many awards including British Male Solo Artist. 1988 Phil hit the big screen in the movie “Buster” playing the title role and adding actor to his professional credentials. This part won him an Academy Award nomination as well as a Golden Globe for ‘Two Hearts’, a song he wrote for the movie.
Jill and Phil would welcome a daughter, Lily, to the world in 1989 and professionally, Phil was raking in the awards from work he performed solo. His drumming was now able to stand out, something that he wasn’t able to do with Genesis. The rock-n-roll world started to see a side of Phil’s talent they had been privilege to yet with his ballad and jazz.
In the meantiem, Genesis” was enjoying success too. They sold over 15 million copies of ‘We Can’t Dance’ and enjoyed a sold out world tour in 1991. Collins would not only be performing but producing as well in 1993 and topping charts in the UK. However with all the success as a solo artist and with Genesis, his personal life would find he and Jill divorced in 1996.
By now, Phil was ready to concentrate on his solo work and left Genesis, shocking fans around the world, and began the “Phil Collins Band”. The debut gig was performing for Nelson Mandela in South Africa with Tony Bennett joining them as a guest vocalist. The group would go on to perform jazz fesitvals through that summer with Quincy Jones as conductor. After two sold-out concerts that summer at the Montreux Jazz Fesitval, the group’s first album was high on U.S. Charts with ‘A Hot Night in Paris’ in 1999.
“Genesis would get together again later in 1999 with Phil, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett, the first time since 1985 that 5 of the original members would be together again, to record ‘The Carpet Crawlers’ that would include their collection ”Turn It On Again: The Hits”.
June of 1999, the ultimate award for any artist, Phil was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then would go to win a Golden Globe and Best Original Song in 2000 from the Academy Awards for ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’, one of the 5 songs he wrote for ‘Tarzan’, the Disney film.
July 1999, Orianne Cevey and Phil Collins wold marry. He 48 years old and she 27 years old, they lived in Switzerland and founded “The Little Dreams Foundation” offering financial support for children with a desire to have a career in film, music or sports. The marriage was rocky and separation would soon follow in March 2006. During their union, they did welcome 2 sons to their union. Collins still lives in Switzerland and remains close to the children.
In 2001, Lil Kim would record a version of ‘In The Air Tonight’ for the album “Urban Renewal” and ‘Home’ for the album “Thug World Order”in 2003. After Collins released the album “Testify” in 2002 he retired from touring due to problems with his hearing. Songwriters Hall of Fame New York inducted Phil Collins in June 2003 and he released a collection of his greatest hits with “Love Songs: A Compliation Old and New” in 2004.
In 2006, Phil took the tour road again with the First Final Farewell as he worked with Disney again on Broad with the production of “Tarzan” that received mixed reviews. Teaming up with former band mates, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks in 2007, they toured Europe and North American that included performing at “Live Earth” concert.
After 50 year career, Collins would announce he would have to quit playing the skins in 2009 due to spinal injury, making certain to let his fans know he could still sing and did so by releasing “Going Back” album with Motown in 2010 which hit number one in the UK within a week.
Always a humanitarian no matter his level of success in music, he as held a Trustee post on Prince’s Trust since 1983 and has received Lieutenant of the Victorian Order for this work. An active and strong supporter of PETA and Long Island Caress.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Genesis in 2010 and that June Collins would join Paul Simon, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder as he received the prestigious Johnny Mercer award. Phil joins Micheal Jackson and Paul McCartney with another distinguished honor as a recording artist to have sold over 100 million albums worldwide with a career in a band and as a solo artist.
Even though Phil Collins has not experienced success with marriage, he always has time for his 5 children and remains an active father for all of them. He has a career that will always be well noted in the rock-n-roll world and on stage with his multiple talents as an actor, composer, drummer, singer and songwriter. His determination, drive and finesse have made Phil Collins a legend in his own time that will continue long after he leaves this earth.