With one of the greatest musicians returning to the stage in the Not Dead Yet tour coming this June, what better time to look back at the life and achievements of the genius that is Phil Collins?
Phil Collins is a name that even the younger generation will be familiar with, as it is a dead cert that he will go down as a great in the eyes of many in the musical world. The London born singer, now 66 years old, really did take the world by storm in the 1980s with his solo career, becoming one of the most profound musicians of that decade.
Unknown to many, Collins didn’t start out with his heart entirely set on singing, growing up with a taste for all things in the performance industry. In his younger years, Collins did have some successes on stage, beginning with his enrollment in the London production of Oliver as the Artful Dodger. This naturally led to more opportunities, and Phil did in fact feature in a few famous pictures including the Beatles’ A Hard Days night at the age of 13, also making an appearance in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when he was 18.
Although his acting career had somewhat taken off, Collins never let music go, and his passion here flourished, particularly throughout his college years, forming his first band. Although Collins had never previously made much out of his musical career, this all changed in 1970 when he joined the band that most of you reading this will know; Genesis. This was his first big break.
The Genesis Years
Over the next five years the fourpiece based in Surrey worked away at building their profile to some considerable success. Releasing their 3rd album in 1971, Nursery Chryme, the album snuck into the UK top 40 three years later in 1974. Soon after, their progress was noted in the release of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with this album reaching as high as number 10 in the UK charts, and showing signs of popularity in America, reaching No. 41. However, 5 years proved too much for lead singer Peter Gabriel, who left the band for a solo career leaving Collins as the face of Genesis from 1975 onwards.
Hereafter both the music and appearance of the band began to change without Gabriel’s influence, and with Collins as the figurehead. The trio went on to create more radio-friendly work, something which undoubtedly played to their advantage. Their next album released in 1978 went Gold, and their sequel to this released in 1980 had similar successes.
However, it was hereafter that Collins began to experiment in the solo artist sphere. In 1981 he released, Face Value, his first solo album. The single In the Air Tonight in particular was a huge success, reaching number 2 in the UK charts and going on to become one of his all-time greatest hits.
Collins hit gold again with his second solo album released just a year later which featured two more massive hits; You Can’t Hurry Love, which became his first number 1 hit in the UK, and I Don’t Care Anymore. The winter of 82/83 saw Collins tour Europe to both bolster and celebrate his successes with the album, something he had been yet to do as a solo artist.
A year later saw another of Collins great works released, as he sang the theme for the 1984 film Against All Odds. The single went on to become a power ballad and attracted a wider audience to his work, with the song being more pop-based than much of his previous work. Collins was awarded with his first Grammy as a result, winning the men’s Best Pop Vocal Performance.
Working off the back of his successes in the previous few years, Collins did not peak here, going on to release arguably his most successful and famous album, No Jacket Required, in 1985. Four songs on the album were released as singles, with 3 of them reaching the top 20 in the UK charts, whilst the record also held the No.1 spot in the US for total of 7 weeks. The album itself won 3 Grammys, and became 6x platinum certified, since selling 25 million copies worldwide.
Despite his successes outdoing that of Genesis, Collins never left the band in the wake of his solo career taking the world by storm, and he continued to work in the trio throughout his career. More surprisingly, Collins returned to acting towards the end of the 1980s, something which he had seemingly left behind in the 60s.
This was marked by his appearance in the film Buster in 1988 alongside Julie Walters. However, ironically, the most successful part of the film was the soundtracks which featured both A Groovy Kind of Love and Two Hearts, both written by Collins.
But Seriously Successful
In 1989 Collin’s returned to his own music career, releasing his 4th solo album, But Seriously. This became both his first US number 1 album of the 1990s and also the best-selling album in the UK in the year 1990. A year later in 1991, Collins recorded his final album with Genesis before leaving the band in 1996. What was created in We Can’t Dance was some impressive work, winning the band favourite pop/rock band/duo at the American Music awards in 1993.
Since leaving Genesis, Collins formed The Phil Collins Big Band back in 1996 with himself on drums, showcasing his other talents. However, unfortunately both due to age and suffering from partial deafness in one ear due to an infection, his music became rather less frequent following the turn of the millennium. He released his 7th solo album back in 2002, but this was seen as some of this worst work, only selling 140,000 copies in the US. Otherwise, Collins only really worked with Disney such as on the films Tarzan and Brother bear until 2006 where he reunited with Genesis for a reunion tour.
His final real work to date was the release of a Motown covers album which was released back in 2010, but since then, until recently, Collins had been taking time out from the music industry to focus on both himself and his family.
In this sense, although Collins is past his prime, his legacy is more than enough to warrant tickets to the Not Dead Yet Tour this year. 2017 could potentially be the last possible time that Collins will tour in such a way, and so the opportunity to see one of the all-time greats on the stage once more is a real treat, and something that Collins fans will be cherishing.
June 2nd 20:00 – Echo Arena, Liverpool
June 4th to June 9th 19:00 – Royal Albert Hall, London
June 25th 18:00 – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
June 30th 14:00 – Hyde Park, London