Aroundtable.ca Hall of Fame - Phil Collins (Part 1 - History)
Updated: Sep 13
I have been a fan of Phil Collins for a very long time. He seems to get forgotten nowadays as he has not released as many albums due to some health issues.
As an artist, I believe that he is one of the more gifted individuals out there. He is a good writer and as you will see from the below, his music is timeless.
I thought that it was time to look back at this great career and go through the ups and down of his career.
Phil Collins was born on January 30th, 1951in Chiswick, Middlesex England. His full name is Philip David Charles Collins. His father named Greville Philip Austin Collins, was an insurance salesman. His mother, Winifred June Collins, worked as a theatrical agent.
According to various sources, Collins started drumming as early as 5 years old. The drum set was a Christmas gift that he had received. He showed a lot of enthusiasm for the instrument. He would play along with songs on the radio to try to learn them. However, through all the years of playing music, he never actually learned how to read sheet music. He had his own method of understanding the melodies.
At age 14, Collins started to take some professional acting classes. This did not really yield much success. However, he was an extra in The Beatles' movie, A Hard Day's Night.
Although he did not have much passion for acting, this time in his life had an influence later in his career with videos and future acting aspirations that he had.
As expected, he had a bigger passion for music, and in 1969, he was part of a rock group called Hickory, which were later known as Flaming Youth. The band consisted of Collins, Ronnie Caryl, Gordon Smith, and Brian Chatton. The band did release one album called Ark 2 (1969). It was heavily based on the media interest in the moon landing.
However, shortly after the release of the album, the band split. At this time, Collins had been playing with other bands. This is a really a fun fact, in 1970, Collins played percussion on the track Art of Dying by George Harrison. That is not too shabby. Especially that Collins was a big fan of The Beatles.
That same year, he ended up auditioning for the band Genesis. A spot opened up in the band after the departure of drummer John Mayhew and guitarist Anthony Phillips. Collins was accepted in the group and he was now the drummer for the band.
From 1970 to 1975, Collins was more of a background member of the group. He would sing backup vocals. He did however have a few lead vocal tracks with the original lineup. Most notably More Fool Me from the album Selling England by the Pound.
In 1975, after some rocky times with the band, Peter Gabriel decided to pursue a solo career and left Genesis. At the time, this was a big deal. No one knew who could replace Gabriel and his creative energy. Even though this was a blow, Genesis proceeded to look for another singer. Collins was helping auditioners with the backing vocals as he knew the songs very well. However, after a long tedious process, the band realized that Phil Collins was probably the best choice to take over as vocal lead.
The first album with Collins was Trick of the Tail. To everyone's surprise, this was a pretty nice success for the band. They managed to release a decent album and also were on the charts. They made it up to 3rd on the UK charts and 31st on the US charts.
Also of note, during this time, Collins was splitting his time with various other bands, but I do not want to get into them right now as they were short lived stints and we have a lot of information to get through.
In 1979, after some personal issues and since Genesis was taking some time off, he decided to write his own solo album. This was to be Face Value.
However, before Face Value was completed, Genesis did release an album called Duke. Duke had some pretty good hits here with Misunderstanding and Turn it On Again.
Then on February 1981 Face Value was released. This album features the Phil Collins song that he is most known for, In the Air Tonight.
In The Air Tonight Official Video
For Phil Collins, Face Value, was not just a new beginning with his solo career, but it also started a trend with his albums, where every album had a picture of his face. He would use this trademark until the Dance Into The Light album.
Everyone remembers In the Air Tonight but there are some good tracks on this album that are easy to forget. I Missed Again is just an example. It also features a sax solo from Ronnie Scott. For those of you who do not know who he is, he is a very famous Jazz Saxophonist from England. He was also known for opening up his own Jazz club which was very popular.
That same year, Genesis, released an album called Abacab. The more notable songs from this album was Abacab and No Reply At All. At this stage of the game, you are starting to hear that Phil Collins sound more and more. You can take No Reply At All and put on a later album and it would fit right in.
No Reply At All Official Video
In 1982, Collins released his second solo effort called Hello, I Must Be Going!. This album produced such hits as I Don't Care Anymore, You Can't Hurry Love, and Like China. I Don't Care Anymore has the booming drums which was made popular by his previous hit, In The Air Tonight.
I Don't Care Anymore Official Video
Then in 1983, Genesis released a self titled album. By this point, the Phil Collins sound was in full effect. It was difficult to differentiate between Genesis and his solo efforts. This would last until the release of Both Sides. The album produced such hits as Mama, That's All, and Illegal Alien.
That's All Official Video
In February 1984, Phil Collins released another of his iconic songs in Against All Odds. This was part of the soundtrack for the movie with the same title.
Then in February 1985, Collins released No Jacket Required. This was a huge hit. At this point in his career, if you were not hearing Genesis on your radio, then it was his solo efforts. This album produced such hits as Sussudio, One More Night, Don't Lose My Number and Take Me Home. This was and still is Collin's most successful solo album. Most of the songs mentioned here made it to the top 10 across the world.
Take Me Home Official Video
Then came along the most successful Genesis album, Invisible Touch. To say that this was a hit would be an understatement. This album which was released in June 1986, stayed on the Billboard 200 for 85 weeks. The album produced Top 10 hits such as Throwing It All Away, Land of Confusion, In Too Deep, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.
I personally think that The Brazillian is an underrated track. It is an instrumental. It has vibes of progressive rock but yet still sound very Genesis / Collins.
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
After Invisible Touch, which had a big tour afterwards, Collins went back to his solo stuff and released ...But Seriously in 1989. Once again, it seems that Collins was synonymous with music charts. This album once again produced songs that are still being played on the radio today such as Another Day in Paradise, Do You Remember, Something Happened on the Way to Heaven and I Wish It Could Rain Down.
The video that always struck with me as I always found it funny, was the music video for I Wish It Could Rain Down which featured Jeffrey Tambor. This video also featured Eric Clapton on guitar.
You can see that Collins wanted to do more with his music videos. You have to remember back then, music videos were an event. Many artists such as Michael Jackson would make extended versions of songs.
I Wish It Would Rain Down Official Video
In 1991, Genesis released the last album featuring Phil Collins with the release of We Can't Dance. The album was not as popular as their previous efforts but they still had a few hits on the charts such as No Son of Mine, I Can't Dance, and Jesus He Knows Me. Probably the best music video of the bunch is Jesus He Knows Me. It makes fun of tele-evangelists. I personally find that Dreaming While You Sleep is a hidden gem on this album.
Dreaming While You Sleep
As mentioned before this was the last Genesis album featuring Phil Collins. In 1996, he would announce his departure stating that it was time to move on. He would make a brief return for a few songs along with Peter Gabriel on the greatest hits album Turn It On Gain: The Hits.
After this in 1993, Collins released Both Sides. This album was different from the others as he used beat boxes for the drums. He later would say that this was a mistake. However, the album did have a few hist such as Both Sides of the Story, Can't Turn Back the Years, Everyday and We Wait and We Wonder.
I think that this album started the decline in the popularity and the quality of the music from Phil Collins. At this point, there were still hints of Collins of old such as Can't Turn Back the Years. The other songs on the album other than the ones mentioned here are not too memorable. This was not a financial success for Collins.
Everyday Official Video
In 1996, Collins Released Dancing Into the Light. This was the first album not to feature Collin's face. The title track was the first single to get released and did get airplay. However, in Montreal, other than this track, there was not much airplay for the rest. Although it did reach Platinum status in Canada selling over 100,000 albums.
I still have the album and it is not as memorable as other of his previous works.
Dancing Into the Light Official Video
in 2002, Collins released Testify. The Phil Collin face made its return on the cover of the album. The album was not very well received. It was probably the worst rated album since Dance Into The Light which was his previous album. At the time, Phil Collins had stated that this was his last album that he would make. We would learn that 8 years later that would not be the case.
The most notable track on the record is Can't Stop Loving You which did get some airplay. In all honesty, it is not that bad. But this album fizzled out pretty quickly.
Can't Stop Loving You
In 2010, Collins released Going Back which is cover album of 60's Motown and soul standards. The album received mixed reviews at the time.
I cannot comment more on this as I have not fully heard the album myself.
Although this is quite minor, Phil Collins did want to act at certain parts of this career. I had mentioned that some of his videos were more elaborate at some points. However, he did audition for the movie Speed, in the Dennis Hopper role. That never panned out. Seems that after that he did attempt at a few acting gigs but soon realized that acting was ultimately not for him.
There you have it, a little bit of history about Phil Collins, with where he came from and the evolution of his albums. Next, we will go into why we think this artist deserved to be in the Aroundtable.ca Hall of Fame.