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The multi-talented Phil Collins

Updated on March 7, 2015

Phil Collins was born on 30 January 1951 in Chriswick, London; growing up his interest in music was first sparked when he bought his first drum set at the age of twelve. Collins would spend hours persevering at the drums, gradually his rhythm and timing started to improve; still at school he formed a band with other students calling themselves ‘The Real Thing‘.


After playing the drums in a number of bands, he joined a group called ‘The Freehold’ applying through an advert in Melody Maker, a music magazine. The Freehold managed to record their first demo singing ‘Lying Dying Crying’ with Collins on the drums. Drumming for John Walker of the Walker Brothers, Ronnie Caryl a friend of Collins formed a new band called ‘Hickory’ which was signed to Phonogram, a record label. Recording their first album together Ark two, they went on to perform at the London Palladium. Hickory’s first gig impressed the media who praised the band's performance, however, the future direction of the band soon led to arguments. Eventually, the band’s members felt they could no longer work together and separated, leaving Collins to search for another band to join in Melody Maker.

Noticing an advert for drummer, he immediately got in touch with the bands singer Peter Gabriel. After passing the audition, Gabriel invited the talented drummer to join the band. ‘Genesis’ now had Collins on the drums, Tony Banks playing keyboards, Mike Rutherford on the base guitar, Mick Barnard playing guitar and Peter Gabriel singing. Caryl an old friend of Collins was also invited to play guitar to support them on stage during gigs. The group still felt they needed an extra guitarist, fortunately, they found guitarist Steve Hacket. Over the next five years, Genesis built a loyal following of fans with hit songs like ‘Super ready’ and ‘Watcher Skies’. In 1975, Gabriel shocked band members and the media when he announced that he was leaving. The press quickly jumped to the conclusion that as the lead singer had left, Genesis was breaking up. With the band now struggling to find a new singer, Collins boldly decided to be the band’s new lead singer. His distinctive voice and strong stage presence proved a hit with fans, in fact, the next two albums ’Trick of the Trial’, went to number three on the British charts and number thirty-one in the American chart. ’Wind and Wuthering’ again was another hit album reaching number two on the British charts. In 1980, Collins teamed up to play the drums for Gabriel’s third album.

As his solo singing career was taking off, it wasn’t long before Collins wanted to start recording and writing his own material. Again in 1981 the press saw Collins solo career as a sign that he was leaving Genesis, however, he had no intention of leaving the band. The same year he recorded and released his debut album ‘Face Value’ including his hit song ‘In the Air tonight’. In 1985, he performed at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium, the same year he recorded a song with singer Marilyn Martin in America. Genesis recorded their next album ‘Invisible Touch’ a hit album amongst fans. The next year they finished their worldwide Invisible Touch Tour selling out of four nights in a row at Wembley stadium in 1987. At the Grammy Awards Collins won an award for his song ‘Against all the Odds’, after reaching number two in the British charts and the top one hundred in America. In 1988, Collins recorded the soundtrack for the film Buster which he also starred in, the film was based on Britain’s biggest train robbery. The following year ‘…But seriously’ his next album, which featured ‘Another Day in Paradise’ was a hit with fans. After a long period of four years ‘Both Sides’ was released in November 1993, the first album that Collins had produced himself. The same year Genesis released ‘We Can’t Dance’ which became the band’s biggest-selling album, selling fifteen million albums worldwide. Genesis went on a world tour selling out every stadium throughout the world.

In 1996 fans, were saddened when Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis altogether after twenty-six years with the band. ‘Dance into the Light’ was his first album he recorded when he left Genesis. Collins decided to explore other musical genres; strongly influenced by his love of big band Jazz he recorded ‘A Hot Night in Paris’. Walt Disney asked Collins to compose a music score for their new film Tarzan, the song ‘You’ll be In My Heart’ went on to become a hit with American audiences. Since then Disney have invited Collins back to compose a further three music scores for their up and coming films. In 2002 Collins released his next album ‘Testify‘, soon afterwards he announced that he would no longer tour because of hearing problems.

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