30th Jan 1951, Born on this day, Phil Collins, drummer, singer, songwriter who was a member of Genesis, who had the 1986 US No.1 ‘Invisible Touch’, 1992 UK No.7 single ‘I Can’t Dance’ plus six UK No.1 albums. As a solo artist Collins had the 1988 UK & US No.1 single ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ plus six other US No.1’s and four UK No.1 solo albums. Not bad for someone who started his showbiz life in a West End production!
Collins’s professional music career began as a drummer, originally in a band called The Real Thing with Andrea Bertorelli, who later became his first wife.
His history with Genesis is well documented from their art-house beginnings to multi-platinum status as the band grew up, lost Steve Hackett and then Peter Gabriel and ended up making videos with tongues firmly in their cheeks. Collins launched his solo career with “Face Value” (‘81), followed by “Hello, I Must Be Going” (’82), “No Jacket Required” (’85), “…But Seriously” (’89), “Both Sides” (’93), “Dance Into The Light” (’96) and “Testify” (‘02) picking up numerous awards including 7 Grammy’s, 2 Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe for “Two Hearts”. After leaving Genesis in 1996 he released a “Hits” album in 1998. Between Phil’s solo and Genesis recordings and excluding his other activities, Phil has sold over 200 million records.
His acting CV reveals that he first trod the boards at 14 when he took the role of the Artful Dodger in a West End production of “Oliver”. He also made childhood cameos in the Beatles “A Hard Days Night” (‘64) and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (’69). Since then he’s starred with Julie Walters in “Buster” (’88), took the lead role as the arch-villain in “Frauds” (’92), made a brief appearance in Spielberg’s “Hook” (’92) and played the Greek owner of a chain of gay bath houses in “And The Band Played On” (’92). In addition to this Phil “The Spiv” turned up in a 1985 episode of Miami Vice and four years later he took the part of Uncle Ernie in The Who’s rock opera “Tommy”.
Collins has worked with many major artists, in 1970, the 19-year-old played percussion on the George Harrison song “The Art of Dying”. He has also enjoyed many significant triumphs on stage, including Live Aid in 1985 when he flew from Wembley to Philadelphia to play solo sets in both places, plus appearing on drums for Eric Clapton and a reformed Led Zeppelin.
His love of jazz inspired an early side-project when he co-founded the jazz-fusion band “Brand X” in 1975, an association which lasted seven years and produced several albums. In the last few years he has formed his own “Big Band”, with the first tour featuring Tony Bennett and Qunicy Jones.
In March 2010, Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. In June 2010 Phil was awarded the prestigious Johnny Mercer award and joined an elite company of writers including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Paul Simon.
Collins is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band.
More recently, Cadbury used one of his best known hits, “In The Air Tonight” in their 2007 Gorilla advertising campaign for its Dairy Milk chocolate bar. The commercial features a gorilla playing the piece’s famous drum sequence. The advert was so popular, it won various awards for the Best Ad of the Year.