Phil Collins bows out

Saturday April 02 2022

British singer Phil Collins performs on stage during “The last domino” tour of the British rock band Genesis at the Paris La Defense Arena, in Nanterre, northeastern France, on March 16, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

By Business Daily Africa

How did a boy from the suburbs of London, become one of the most successful names in pop music producing countless hits that have been embraced by millions of people of different generations around the world?

There are few artists with a bigger catalogue of hit songs that are staples of the last four decades of global pop music than Phil Collins.

Distinctive vocals, a trademark drumming style, and the ability to write songs that connect with people of different ages and backgrounds through different emotions of life is the hallmark of Phil Collins.

After a distinguished career playing, writing, performing, entertaining, Phil Collins who is 71 bid his fans goodbye with a final concert in London over the weekend.

Accompanied by the former members of the group Genesis, Collins was frail and remained seated on stage as a result of the poor health that has dogged him in recent years. He dislocated the vertebrae in his neck and has used a cane since 2015 after back surgery.

After a decade as the drummer and later vocalist with Genesis, his solo career took off at the beginning of the 1980s making Phil Collins among the world’s most bankable music stars.


His debut solo album “Face Value” in 1981 featured the hit ballad “In the Air Tonight” a staple for Kenyans of that generation who listened to popular radio shows like Late Date and Sundowner on the Voice of Kenya.

The theme song to the film “Against All Odds“ in 1984 became his first US No 1 single, winning the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1985 and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in a film.

He describes it as “a good break-up song, with universal resonance and empathy”. It is the song that people often mention when they write to him, describing how it helped them through the trauma of heartbreak.

That same year, he recorded another global hit ‘Easy Lover’ along with Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire. In 1985, a week before his 35th birthday, Collins released “No Jacket Required” propelled by the success of the US & UK No 1 single, “Sussudio", and the romantic classic “One More Night”.

The album won three Grammy Awards and to date has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

By the late 1980s, Phil Collins was already one of the biggest pop stars in the world, a status that he cemented with his signature song “Another Day in Paradise” off the “...But Seriously” album in 1989.

The socially-engaged song inspired by the irony of witnessing widespread homelessness in Washington DC, right next to the seat of world power, became in the words of the writer “one of those records that’s always on radio and that everybody seems to have”. It won the 1991 Grammy for Record of the Year.

That same album contained classics like “Do You Remember” “Something Happened on The Way to Heaven” and “I Wish It Would Rain Down.”

In 1988, Phil Collins returned to his childhood love of acting when he played the lead role in the movie “Buster” based on the events of the Great Train Robbery of 1963.

He also recorded the soundtrack to the film including the ballad “A Groovy Kind of Love:” and the Motown-inspired sing-along “Two Hearts.”

More was to come from Phil Collins in the 1990s. The album “Both Sides” in 1993 recorded as his second marriage ended in divorce, the upbeat and buoyant “Dance into The Light” three years later, and a cover version of the Cyndi Lauper ballad “True Colours” produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds for his “Hits” compilation in 1998.

Phil Collins is one of only three artists who have sold 100 million albums both as a solo artist and as a member of a group (along with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

He was born in southwest London on January 30, 1951 and given a toy drum kit by his parents at the age of three which he used to communicate by bashing things to his heart’s content.

As he writes in his autobiography “Not Dead Yet” he never learnt to read music but that allowed him the freedom to gain a wider musical vocabulary.

“If you don’t know the rules, you don’t know what rules you are breaking.”

He writes about his success, especially during the 1980s and 90s: “Try as you might, when you turn on a TV or radio, you can’t escape me. If you take a charitable view, I simply write a lot of hits. If you take a pragmatic view, I and my music won’t give it a rest.”

Written by Bill Odidi