Birthplace: Chiswick, London, England
Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins LVO (born 30 January 1951) is an English singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer and actor. He is best known as the drummer and lead singer in the rock band Genesis and as a solo artist. Between 1983 and 1990, Collins scored three UK and seven US number-one singles in his solo career. When his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, Collins had more US Top 40 singles than any other artist during the 1980s. His most successful singles from the period include "In the Air Tonight", "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)", "One More Night", "Sussudio" and "Another Day in Paradise".
Born and raised in West London, Collins played drums from the age of five and completed drama school training, which secured him various roles as a child actor. He then pursued a music career, joining Genesis in 1970 as their drummer and becoming lead singer in 1975 following the departure of Peter Gabriel. Collins began a solo career in the 1980s, initially inspired by his marital breakdown and love of soul music, releasing a series of successful albums, including Face Value (1981), No Jacket Required (1985), and ...But Seriously (1989). Collins became "one of the most successful pop and adult contemporary singers of the '80s and beyond". He also became known for a distinctive gated reverb drum sound on many of his recordings. After leaving Genesis in 1996, Collins pursued various solo projects before a return in 2007 for the Turn It On Again Tour. In 2011, he retired to focus on his family life, but continued to write songs. He announced his return to the music industry in 2015. He will perform live for the first time in 10 years with a European tour in July 2017, including a five night residency at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and his biggest ever solo show in Hyde Park, London.
Collins' discography includes eight studio albums that have sold 33.5 million certified units in the US and an estimated 150 million worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists. He is one of only two recording artists, along with Paul McCartney, who have sold over 100 million records worldwide both as solo artists and separately as principal members of a band. He has won seven Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, an Academy Award, and a Disney Legend Award. In 1999, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013. Despite his commercial success and his status as a respected and influential drummer, music critics are divided in their opinion of his work and he has publicly received both criticism and praise from other prominent music artists.
Philip David Charles Collins was born on 30 January 1951 in Chiswick, west London, England, the son of Winifred M. "June" (née Strange), a theatrical agent, and Greville Philip Austin Collins, an insurance agent. He was given a toy drum kit for Christmas when he was five. Later, his uncle made him a makeshift set that he used regularly. As Collins grew older, these were followed by more complete sets bought by his parents. He practiced by playing with music on the television and radio. According to Barbara Speake, founder of the eponymous stage school Collins later attended, "Phil was always special; aged five he entered a Butlins talent contest singing Davy Crockett, but he stopped the orchestra halfway through to tell them they were in the wrong key." His professional acting training began at age 14, at the Barbara Speake Stage School, a fee-paying but non-selective independent school in East Acton, west London, whose talent agency had been established by his mother.
Collins studied drum rudiments as a teenager, first learning basic rudiments under Lloyd Ryan and later studying further under Frank King. Collins recalled: "Rudiments I found very, very helpful - much more helpful than anything else because they're used all the time. In any kind of funk or jazz drumming, the rudiments are always there." He never learned to read and write conventional musical notation and instead used a system he devised himself. He later regretted this, saying: "I never really came to grips with the music. I should have stuck with it. I've always felt that if I could hum it, I could play it. For me, that was good enough, but that attitude is bad." Ryan recalled: "Phil always had a problem with reading. That was always a big problem for him. That’s a shame because reading drum music isn't that difficult."
The Beatles were a major early influence on Collins, including their drummer Ringo Starr. He also followed the lesser-known London band the Action, whose drummer he would copy and whose work introduced him to the soul music of Motown and Stax Records. Collins was also influenced by the jazz and big band drummer Buddy Rich, whose opinion on the importance of the hi-hat prompted him to stop using two bass drums and start using the hi-hat. While attending Chiswick County School for Boys, Collins formed a band called the Real Thing, and later joined the Freehold, with whom he wrote his first song, "Lying Crying Dying".
Collins began a career as a child actor while at the Barbara Speake Stage School and won his first major role as the Artful Dodger in the London stage production of Oliver!, the musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. He was an extra in the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night (1964) among the screaming teenagers during the television concert sequence. This was followed by a role in Calamity the Cow (1967), produced by the Children's Film Foundation, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) as one of the children who storm the castle, but the scene was cut. Collins auditioned for the role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1968) but the role went to Leonard Whiting.
Despite the beginnings of an acting career, Collins gravitated towards music. His first record deal came as the drummer for Hickory with guitarists Ronnie Caryl and Gordon Smith and keyboardist Brian Chatton. After changing their name to Flaming Youth they recorded an album, Ark 2, released in October 1969 on Uni Records, which premiered with a performance at the London Planetarium. A concept album inspired by the media attention surrounding the 1969 moon landing, Ark 2 featured each member sharing lead vocals. Though a commercial failure, it received some positive reviews; Melody Maker named it "Pop Album of the Month", describing it as "adult music beautifully played with nice tight harmonies". After a year of touring, the group disbanded in 1970. Collins went on to play percussion on "Art of Dying" by Beatles guitarist George Harrison for his album All Things Must Pass. Harrison acknowledged Collins's contribution in the remastered edition released in 2000.
In mid-1970, the rock band Genesis advertised for "a drummer sensitive to acoustic music" and a "12-string acoustic guitarist" following the departure of drummer John Mayhew and guitarist Anthony Phillips. Collins recognised Charisma Records owner Tony Stratton-Smith's name in the advert; he and Caryl decided to audition for the roles. The audition took place at the home of the parents of singer Peter Gabriel in Chobham, Surrey. As they arrived early, Collins took a swim in the pool and memorised the pieces before his audition. He recalled: "They put on 'Trespass', and my initial impression was of a very soft and round music, not edgy, with vocal harmonies, and I came away thinking Crosby, Stills and Nash." In August 1970, Collins became Genesis's new drummer. Caryl's audition was unsuccessful; guitarist Mike Rutherford thought he was not a good fit for the group (they selected Steve Hackett in January 1971).
From 1970 to 1975, Collins played the drums, percussion, and backing vocals on Genesis albums and live shows. His first album recorded with the band, Nursery Cryme, was recorded and released in 1971. "For Absent Friends", an acoustic track written by Collins and Hackett, is the first Genesis song with Collins on lead vocals. He sang "More Fool Me" on their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound. In 1974, during the recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Collins played drums on Brian Eno's second album Taking Tiger Mountain after Eno had contributed electronic effects known as "Enossification" on "In the Cage" and "Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging".
"Dance on a Volcano" (1976)
The first track from Genesis's A Trick of the Tail was Collins's début as the group's full-time lead singer. A progressive rock track with complex time signatures, it contrasts with the style of his later work.
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In August 1975, following the The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, Gabriel left Genesis. The band placed an advert for a replacement in Melody Maker and received around 400 replies. After a lengthy auditioning process, during which Collins sang backup vocals for applicants, Collins became the band's lead vocalist during the recording of Genesis's album A Trick of the Tail. A Trick of the Tail was a commercial and critical success, reaching number 3 in the UK charts and 31 in the U.S; Rolling Stone wrote that Genesis had managed to turn the possible catastrophe of Gabriel's departure into their first broad-based American success." For the album's 1976 tour, Collins accepted an offer from former Yes and King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford to play drums while Collins sang vocals. Collins played percussion on the album Johnny the Fox by Thin Lizzy.
Wind & Wuthering was the last album recorded with Hackett before his 1977 departure. Bruford was replaced by Chester Thompson, who has since been a mainstay of Genesis' live lineup, as well as Collins's solo backing band. In 1977, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford decided to continue Genesis as a trio. As the decade closed, Genesis began to shift from their progressive rock roots to a more radio-friendly pop-rock sound. The 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three... featured their first UK Top 10 and U.S. Top 40 single, "Follow You Follow Me".
In 1975 Collins played drums and sang on Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte; performed on Eno's albums Another Green World, Before and After Science, and Music for Films; and replaced drummer Phil Spinelli of the jazz fusion group Brand X before recording their 1976 debut album, Unorthodox Behaviour. His time with Brand X gave Collins his first opportunity to use a drum machine and a home 8-track tape machine. He sang on Phillips's solo album, The Geese and the Ghost, and the second Brand X album, Moroccan Roll.
In December 1978, Genesis went on hiatus while Collins went to Vancouver, Canada, to focus on his family; his marriage had become strained after his extensive touring. Having failed to save the relationship, Collins returned to the UK in April 1979, by which time Banks and Rutherford were recording their solo albums. With time to spare before recording a new Genesis album, Collins played on the Brand X album Product and its accompanying tour, played on John Martyn's album Grace and Danger, and started writing his first solo album, Face Value, at his home in Shalford, Surrey. After Banks and Rutherford rejoined Collins, work began on Genesis's album Duke, released in 1980.
"In the Air Tonight"
"In the Air Tonight" from Face Value (1981), was the first single of Collins's solo career and featured a famous gated reverb drum fill. The song's atmospheric production has made it one of Collins's most frequently sampled songs.
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Face Value was released in February 1981. It features a rework of "Behind the Lines" from Duke with a more funk and dance-oriented style. Collins sang and performed keyboards and drums. He cited his divorce as the main influence on the album's lyrics and themes, and said: "I had a wife, two children, two dogs, and the next day I didn't have anything. So a lot of these songs were written because I was going through these emotional changes." Collins produced the album in collaboration with Hugh Padgham, with whom he had worked on Peter Gabriel's self-titled 1980 album.
Face Value was an international success, reaching number one in seven countries worldwide and number seven in the U.S, where it went on to sell 5 million copies. "In the Air Tonight", the album's lead single, became a hit and reached number two in the UK charts. The song is known for the gated reverb effect used on Collins's drums, a technique developed by Padgham when he worked as an engineer on Gabriel's song "Intruder", which Collins played drums on. Following an invitation by record producer Martin Lewis, Collins made his debut live performance as a solo artist at an Amnesty International benefit show The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London, in September 1981, performing "In the Air Tonight" and "The Roof Is Leaking" accompanied by Troy Street United. Collins also worked again with John Martyn in this year, producing his album Glorious Fool.
In September 1981, Genesis released Abacab. This was followed by its 1981 supporting tour and a two-month tour in 1982 promoting the Genesis live album Three Sides Live. In early 1982, Collins produced and played on Something's Going On, the third solo album by Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA, and performed most of the drum parts on Pictures at Eleven, the first solo album by Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. In October 1982, Collins took part in the one-off Genesis reunion concert Six of the Best, which marked the return Gabriel on lead vocals and Hackett on guitar.
Collins's second solo album, Hello, I Must Be Going!, was released in November 1982. His marital problems continued to provide inspiration for his songs, including "I Don't Care Anymore" and "Do You Know, Do You Care". The album reached number 2 in the UK and number 8 in the U.S, where it sold 3 million copies. Its second single, a cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, became Collins's first UK number one single and went to number 10 in the U.S. Collins supported the album with the Hello, I Must Be Going! tour of Europe and North America from November 1982 to February 1983. Following the tour, Collins played drums on Plant's second solo album, The Principle of Moments, and produced and played on two tracks for Adam Ant, "Puss 'N' Boots" and "Strip". In May 1983, Collins, Banks and Rutherford recorded a self-titled Genesis album; its tour ended in February 1984.
"Against All Odds"
"Against All Odds" from the soundtrack of the same name (1984), is a power ballad which became his first Billboard Hot 100 #1 single. It again featured his gated reverb drum sound.
"Another Day in Paradise" A sample of "Another Day in Paradise" from ...But Seriously (1989). Collins wrote the song to bring attention to the problem of homelessness. It became his final Billboard Hot 100 #1 single.
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In 1984, Collins released "Against All Odds", the main theme for the 1984 film of the same title. The song was produced by Arif Mardin, and is one of the few songs released by Collins that he did not produce himself. The single, more pop-oriented and commercially accessible than Collins's previous work, became his first solo single to top the Billboard Hot 100 and earnt him his first Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Collins had arranged his tour to accommodate the possibility of appearing on the telecast in the event his song was nominated for an Oscar. It is believed that the producers of that year's Academy Awards show were not aware of his prominence as a musical performer. A note to Collins's label from telecast co-producer Larry Gelbart explaining the lack of invitation stated: "Thank you for your note regarding Phil Cooper . I'm afraid the spots have already been filled." Collins instead watched actress and dancer Ann Reinking perform his song. Reinking's performance was described by one critic as an "absurdly inept rendition" of the song. The Los Angeles Times said: "Reinking did an incredible job of totally destroying a beautiful song. The best that can be said about her performance is that the stage set was nice." Collins would introduce it at subsequent concerts by saying: "I'm sorry Miss Ann Reinking couldn't be here tonight; I guess I just have to sing my own song."
1984 also saw Collins contribute to the production on Chinese Wall, the third solo album from Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey, which included a duet from the two musicians, "Easy Lover". The song went to No. 1 in the UK. Collins produced and played drums on several tracks on Behind the Sun by Eric Clapton. In November 1984 Collins joined Band Aid, a charity supergroup primarily made up of the biggest British and Irish musicians of the era, and played drums on "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London.
Collins released his most successful album, the Diamond-certified No Jacket Required, in February 1985. It reached No. 1 in both the UK and U.S. It contained the U.S. number-one hits "One More Night" and "Sussudio" as well top ten hits "Don't Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home". It also contains the lesser known "Who Said I Would", and "Only You Know and I Know". The album featured contributions from The Police's vocalist, Sting, ex-bandmate Peter Gabriel, and Helen Terry as backing vocalists. He also recorded the successful song "Separate Lives", a duet with Marilyn Martin for the film White Nights (1985), and a U.S. #1, for the movie White Nights. Collins had three U.S. number-one songs in 1985, the most by any artist that year. No Jacket Required won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.
No Jacket Required was criticised for being "too commercial", despite favourable reviews from many music critics. A positive review by David Fricke of Rolling Stone ended, "After years on the art-rock fringe, Collins has established himself firmly in the middle of the road. Perhaps he should consider testing himself and his new fans's expectations next time around." "Sussudio" attracted negative attention for sounding too similar to Prince's "1999", a charge that Collins did not deny, and its hook line has been named as the most widely disliked element of his career. In 1986, No Jacket Required earned Collins the first two of his six Brit Awards for Best British Male and Best British Album.
In July 1985, Collins took part in the Live Aid concert charity event, a continuation of the fundraising effort started by Band Aid. Collins had the distinction of being the only performer to appear at the London concert at Wembley Stadium and the U.S. concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. After he performed "Against All Odds" and "In the Air Tonight" and sang alongside Sting, Collins travelled to Philadelphia via Concorde to perform his solo material, play drums for Clapton, and drum with Plant and Jimmy Page for a Led Zeppelin reunion. The latter performance was poorly received and later disowned by the band; Page claimed Collins had not learned his parts for the set. Collins responded that the band "weren't very good", felt uncomfortable by a "dribbling" Page, and continued with the set rather than leave the stage to avoid negative attention.
The music press noted Collins's astronomical success as a solo artist had made him more popular than Genesis. Before the release of No Jacket Required, Collins insisted that he would not leave the band. "The next one to leave the band will finish it," Collins told Rolling Stone magazine in May 1985. "I feel happier with what we're doing now, because I feel it's closer to me. I won't be the one." Collins added, "Poor old Genesis does get in the way sometimes. I still won't leave the group, but I imagine it will end by mutual consent."
In October 1985, Collins reunited with Banks and Rutherford to record the next Genesis album, Invisible Touch. Its title track was released as a single and reached No. 1 in the US, the only Genesis song to do so. The group received a Grammy Award (their only one) and a nomination for the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1987 for the single "Land of Confusion" which featured puppet caricatures created by the British satirical team Spitting Image. The video was directed by Jim Yukich and John Lloyd. Reviews of Invisible Touch were mixed and many comparisons were made with Collins's solo work, but Rolling Stone's J. D. Considine praised the album's commercial appeal, stating, "every tune is carefully pruned so that each flourish delivers not an instrumental epiphany but a solid hook".
March 1986 saw the release of "No One Is to Blame", a hit single by Howard Jones which included Collins on drums, backing vocals, and co-production alongside Padgham. Collins was one of the drummers, backing vocalists, and producers on Eric Clapton's 1987 album August.
Collins's first film role since embarking on his music career came in 1988 with the British romantic comedy drama-crime film Buster. He starred as Buster Edwards, a criminal convicted for his role in the Great Train Robbery. Reviews for the film were mixed and controversy ensued over its subject matter; Prince Charles and Princess Diana declined an invitation to the film's première after it was accused of glorifying crime. However, Collins's performance opposite Julie Walters received good reviews and he contributed four songs to the film's soundtrack. His slow ballad rendition of "A Groovy Kind of Love", originally by The Mindbenders, became his only single to reach No. 1 in the UK and the U.S. The film also spawned the hit single "Two Hearts", which he co-wrote with Lamont Dozier; the two artists won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and receive an Oscar nomination in the same category. "Big Noise" and "Loco in Acapulco" were also by Collins and Dozier, the vocals for the latter were performed by The Four Tops. Film critic Roger Ebert said the role of Buster was "played with surprising effectiveness" by Collins, although the film's soundtrack proved more successful than the film.
In 1989, Collins worked on his fourth studio album ...But Seriously, and appeared on The Who Tour 1989, performing the role of young Tommy's wicked Uncle Ernie in a reprisal of the rock opera Tommy (a part originally played by their late drummer, Keith Moon). In November, Collins released ...But Seriously, which became another huge success, featuring as its lead single the anti-homelessness anthem "Another Day in Paradise", with David Crosby singing backing vocals. "Another Day in Paradise" reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts at the end of 1989, won Collins Best British Single at the Brit Awards in 1990, and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1991; it was also one of Germany's most successful singles of all time. It became the final U.S. number-one single of the 1980s. Despite its success, the song was also heavily criticised. It also became linked to allegations of hypocrisy made against Collins. Responding to criticism of the song, Collins stated: "When I drive down the street, I see the same things everyone else sees. It's a misconception that if you have a lot of money you're somehow out of touch with reality."
...But Seriously became the first number-one U.S. album of the 1990s and the best-selling album of 1990 in the UK. Other songs included "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" (#4 U.S., #15 UK), "Do You Remember?" (not released in the UK, but #4 in the U.S.), and "I Wish It Would Rain Down" (the latter featuring Eric Clapton on guitar; #3 U.S., #7 UK). Songs about apartheid and homelessness demonstrated Collins's turn to political themes. A live album, Serious Hits... Live!, followed, which reached the top ten around the world. In September 1990 Collins performed "Sussudio" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Collins also played drums on the 1989 Tears for Fears hit single, "Woman in Chains".
After a hiatus of five years, Genesis reconvened for the 1991 album release We Can't Dance, Collins's last studio album with the group to date. It features the singles "Jesus He Knows Me", "I Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine", and "Hold on My Heart". Collins performed on their 1992 tour. At the 1993 American Music Awards, Genesis won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group.
Collins co-wrote, sang and played on "Hero" on Thousand Roads by David Crosby. Collins's record sales began to drop with the 1993 release of Both Sides, a largely experimental album that, according to Collins, included songs that "were becoming so personal, so private, I didn't want anyone else's input". Featuring a less polished sound and fewer up-tempo songs than his previous albums, Both Sides was a significant departure. Collins used no backing musicians and he performed all the vocal and instrumental parts at his home studio, using rough vocal takes for the final product. The album was not as well received by radio. Its two biggest hits were "Both Sides of the Story" and "Everyday". In 1995, Collins turned down the chance to contribute to Tower of Song, an album of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, due to his touring commitments.
Collins left Genesis in March 1996 to focus on his solo career. He formed The Phil Collins Big Band with himself on drums. The band performed jazz renditions of songs from Genesis and his solo career. His sixth solo album, Dance into the Light, was released in October 1996. The album was received negatively by the music press and sold less than his previous albums. Entertainment Weekly reviewed by saying that "even Phil Collins must know that we all grew weary of Phil Collins". Singles from the album included the title track, which reached No. 9 in the UK, and The Beatles-inspired "It's in Your Eyes". The album achieved Gold certification in the US. On 15 September 1997, Collins appeared at the Music for Montserrat concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The Phil Collins Big Band completed a world tour in 1998 that included a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 1999 they released the CD A Hot Night in Paris including big band versions of "Invisible Touch", "Sussudio", and "The Los Endos Suite" from A Trick of the Tail.
His first compilation album ...Hits was released in 1998 and sold well, returning Collins to multi-platinum status in the US. The album's one new track, a cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit "True Colors", was produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. and received considerable airplay on U.S. Adult Contemporary stations while peaking at No. 2.
In 1999, Collins saw a small renaissance with his career. He reunited with Genesis to re-record "The Carpet Crawlers" for the compilation album Turn It On Again: The Hits.The Album was a modest success, reaching number 4 on the UK Album Charts and 65 on the US Billboard 200. Later that same year, Collins performed the soundtrack to the animated adventure film Tarzan (1999) for The Walt Disney Company. The film's lead song, "You'll Be in My Heart", spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart—the longest time ever up to that point. Collins also sang German, Italian, Spanish and French versions of the Tarzan soundtrack for the respective film versions. The song won Collins an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award both for Best Original Song, and was performed at that year's ceremony and a Disney-themed Super Bowl halftime show. Collins was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on 16 June 1999.
In 2000, Collins became partially deaf in one ear due to a viral infection. In June 2002, he accepted an invitation to drum for the house band at the Party at the Palace concert which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee.
On 11 November 2002, Collins released his seventh solo album, Testify. Metacritic's roundup of album reviews found this record to be the worst-reviewed album at the time of its release, though it has since been surpassed by three more recent releases. The album's single "Can't Stop Loving You" (a Leo Sayer cover) was a number-one Adult Contemporary hit. Testify sold 140,000 copies in the U.S. by year's end, making it his worst selling album in the U.S.
Disney hired Collins and Tina Turner to perform on the soundtrack to its 2003 animated feature Brother Bear, which included the song "Look Through My Eyes". From June 2004 to November 2005, Collins performed his First Final Farewell Tour, a reference to the multiple farewell tours of other popular artists. In 2006, he worked with Disney on a musical production of Tarzan.
Collins reunited with Banks and Rutherford and announced Turn It On Again: The Tour on 7 November 2006, nearly 40 years after the band first formed. The tour took place during summer 2007, and played in twelve countries across Europe, followed by a second leg in North America. During the tour Genesis performed at the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium, London. In 2007 they were honoured at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, performing "Turn It On Again", "No Son of Mine" and "Los Endos" at the ceremony in Las Vegas.
In October 2009, it was reported that Collins was to record a Motown covers album. He told a German newspaper, "I want the songs to sound exactly like the originals", and that the album would feature up to 30 songs. In January 2010, Chester Thompson said that the album had been completed and would be released some time soon. He also revealed that Collins managed to play the drums on the album despite a spinal operation.
The resulting album, Going Back, was released on 13 September 2010. It entered the UK charts at No. 4, rising to No. 1 the following week. In summer 2010, Collins played six concerts with the music from Going Back. These included a special programme, Phil Collins: One Night Only, aired on ITV1 on 18 September 2010. Collins also promoted Going Back with his first and only appearance on the BBC's music series Later... with Jools Holland, broadcast on 17 September 2010.
In March 2010, Collins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis at a ceremony in New York City. As of January 2011, Collins has spent 1,730 weeks in the German music charts—766 weeks of them with Genesis albums and singles and 964 weeks with solo releases.
On 4 March 2011, citing health problems and other concerns, Collins announced that he was taking time off from his career, prompting widespread reports of his retirement. On 7 March his UK representative told the press, "He is not, has no intention of, retiring." However, later that day, Collins posted a message to his fans on his own website, confirming his intention to retire to focus on his family life.
In July 2012, Collins's greatest hits collection ...Hits re-entered the U.S. charts, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard 200.
In November 2013, Collins told German media that he was considering a return to music and speculated that this could mean further live shows with Genesis, stating: "Everything is possible. We could tour in Australia and South America. We haven't been there yet." Speaking to reporters in Miami, Florida in December 2013 at an event promoting his charity work, Collins indicated that he was writing music once again and might tour again.
On 24 January 2014, Collins announced in an interview with Inside South Florida that he was writing new compositions with fellow English singer Adele. Collins said he had no idea who Adele was when he learned she wanted to collaborate with him. He said "I wasn't actually too aware . I live in a cave." Collins agreed to join her in the studio after hearing her voice. He said, " achieved an incredible amount. I really love her voice. I love some of this stuff she's done, too." However, in September 2014, Collins revealed that the collaboration had ended and he said it had been "a bit of a non-starter".
In May 2014, Collins gave a live performance of "In the Air Tonight" and "Land of Confusion" with young student musicians at the Miami Country Day School in Miami, Florida. Collins was asked to perform there by his sons, who are students at the school. In August 2014, Collins was reported to have accepted an invitation to perform in December at a benefit concert in Miami in aid of his Little Dreams Foundation charity. He ultimately missed the concert due to illness.
In May 2015 Collins signed a deal with Warner Music Group to remaster his eight solo albums with previously unreleased material. In October, he announced that he was no longer officially retired and is planning to tour and write a new album. By mid-2016, all eight of his studio albums were remastered and reissued as deluxe editions with a bonus disc with demos and live versions of some of his songs. Collins redid the artwork on his albums, except for his most recent, Going Back, which featured a new cover. His autobiography, Not Dead Yet, was released on 25 October 2016, and at a press conference held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 17 October 2016, Collins announced the Not Dead Yet Tour, a mini European tour (named after his autobiography) due to occur in June 2017 with five concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and five each at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne and at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. After tickets for his five Royal Albert Hall shows sold out in 15 seconds, Collins announced his biggest-ever solo show in Hyde Park, London on 30 June.
In his book on the "legends" who defined progressive rock drumming, American drummer Rich Lackowski wrote: "Phil Collins's grooves in early Genesis recordings paved the way for many talented drummers to come. His ability to make the drums bark with musicality and to communicate so convincingly in odd time signatures left many a drummer tossing on the headphones and playing along to Phil's lead." In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted Collins the fourth most influential progressive rock drummer for his work on the 1974 Genesis album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. MusicRadar named Collins one of the six pioneers of progressive rock drumming. In 2005, Planet Rock listeners voted Collins the fifth greatest rock drummer in history. Collins was ranked tenth in "The Greatest Drummers of All Time" list by Gigwise and number nine in a list of "The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years" by MusicRadar in 2010.
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins cites Collins as one of his drumming heroes. He said, "Collins is an incredible drummer. Anyone who wants to be good on the drums should check him out - the man is a master." In the April 2001 issue of Modern Drummer, Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy named Collins in an interview when asked about drummers he was influenced by and had respect for. In another conversation in 2014, Portnoy lauded his "amazing progressive drumming" back in the early and mid-1970s. Rush drummer Neil Peart praised his "beautiful drumming" and "lovely sound" on the 1973 Genesis album Selling England by the Pound, which he called "an enduring masterpiece of drumming". Marco Minnemann, drummer for artists including Joe Satriani and Steven Wilson, described Collins as "brilliant" for the way "he composes his parts, and the sounds he gets". He said, "Phil is almost like John Bonham to me. I hear his personality, his perspective." He singled out the drumming on "In the Air Tonight" as an example of "ten notes that everybody knows" and concluded "Phil is a insanely talented drummer." Spock's Beard and Big Big Train drummer Nick D'Virgilio says: "He is still my favourite drummer of all time. (...) He made progressive rock music groovy. Nobody else did that and that is what drew me to his playing so much. Like John Bonham made rock so groovy, Phil made prog swing." Other drummers who have cited him as an influence or expressed admiration for his drumming work are Brann Dailor of Mastodon, and Jimmy Keegan of Spock's Beard.
Modern Drummer readers voted for Collins every year between 1987 and 1991 as Pop/Mainstream Rock drummer of the year. In 2000, he was voted as Big Band drummer of the year. In 2012, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Collins is a left-handed drummer, and uses Gretsch drums, Remo heads, Sabian cymbals and he uses his signature Promark sticks. Past kits he used were made by Pearl and Premier.
Other instruments associated with Collins's sound (particularly in his post-1978 Genesis and subsequent solo career) include the Roland TR-808, Roland TR-909, the Simmons SDS-V electronic drum set, and the Linn LM-1 and LinnDrum drum machines. Collins also used a Roland CR-78, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and a vocoder for his voice. Other Korg instruments include the Wavestation, the Karma and the Trinity.
Collins had cameo appearances in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991) and the AIDS docudrama And the Band Played On (1993). He starred in Frauds, which competed for the Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. He supplied voices to two animated features: Amblin's Balto (1995) and Disney's The Jungle Book 2 (2003). A long-discussed but never completed project was a film titled The Three Bears; originally meant to star Collins, Danny DeVito, and Bob Hoskins. He often mentioned the film, though an appropriate script never materialised.
Collins's music is featured in the satirical black comedy film American Psycho, with psychotic lead character Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) portrayed as an obsessive fan who reads deep meaning into his work, especially with Genesis, while describing his solo music as "...more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way." Bateman delivers a monologue praising Collins and Genesis during a sequence in which he engages the services of two prostitutes while playing "In Too Deep" and "Sussudio".
Collins twice hosted the Billboard Music Awards on television, which were produced and directed by his longtime music video and TV special collaborators, Paul Flattery and Jim Yukich of FYI (Flattery Yukich Inc). He also appeared in an episode of the series Miami Vice, entitled "Phil the Shill", in which he plays a cheating con-man. He also appeared in several sketches with The Two Ronnies.
In 2001, Collins was one of several celebrities who were tricked into appearing in a controversial British comedy series, Brass Eye, shown on public service broadcaster Channel 4. In the episode, Collins endorsed a hoax anti-paedophile campaign wearing a T-shirt with the words "Nonce Sense" and warned children against speaking to suspicious people. Collins was reported by the BBC to have consulted lawyers regarding the programme, which was originally pulled from broadcast but eventually rescheduled. Collins said he had taken part in the programme "in good faith for the public benefit", believing it to be "a public service programme that would be going around schools and colleges in a bid to stem child abduction and abuse". Collins also accused the makers of the programme of "some serious taste problems" and warned it would prevent celebrities from supporting "public spirited causes" in the future.
Collins appeared as himself in the 2006 PSP and PS2 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Set in 1984, he appears in three missions in which the main character, Victor, must save him from a gang that is trying to kill him, the final mission occurring during his concert, where the player must defend the scaffolding against saboteurs while Collins is performing "In the Air Tonight". After this, the player is given the opportunity to watch this performance of "In the Air Tonight" for only 6,000 dollars in the game. "In the Air Tonight" was also featured in the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and it was also featured in the film Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, the 2009 movie The Hangover and the 2007 Gorilla commercial for Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. The advertisement also helped the song re-enter the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart at No. 3 in July 2008, the following week reaching No. 1, beating its original 1981 No. 6 peak. "In the Air Tonight" was also sampled in the song "I Can Feel It" on Sean Kingston's self-titled debut album.
Collins was portrayed in the cartoon South Park in the episode "Timmy 2000" holding his Oscar throughout, referring to his 1999 win for "You'll Be in My Heart", which defeated "Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" involves a sled race down the landmark known as Phil Collins Hill, which has an impression of Phil Collins' face in the side. The Phil Collins character returns once more and gets killed off in the episode 200. Collins appears briefly in the Finnish animated sitcom Pasila in the episode "Phil Collins Hangover". The music of this episode is a pastiche of Collins's Another Day in Paradise. Collins was mentioned in the Psych episode "Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!" as resembling Shawn Spencer's father, Henry, portrayed by actor Corbin Bernsen.
According to a 2000 BBC biography of Collins, "critics sneer at him" and "bad publicity also caused problems", which "damaged his public profile". Rock historian Martin C. Strong wrote that Collins "truly polarised opinion from the start, his ubiquitous smugness and increasingly sterile pop making him a favourite target for critics". During his recording career Collins would regularly place telephone calls to music writers to take issue with their written reviews. Over time, he came to be personally disliked; in 2009, journalist Mark Lawson told how Collins's media profile had shifted from "pop's Mr. Nice Guy, patron saint of ordinary blokes", to someone accused of "blandness, tax exile and ending a marriage by sending a fax". Collins has rejected accusations of tax avoidance, and, despite confirming that some of the divorce-related correspondence between him and second wife Jill Tavelman, was by fax (a message from Collins regarding access to their daughter was reproduced for the front cover of The Sun in 1993), he states that he did not terminate the marriage in that fashion. Nevertheless, the British media has often repeated the fax claim. Collins has been the victim of scathing remarks in regard to his alleged right-wing political leanings. Caroline Sullivan, a music critic of The Guardian, referred to his cumulative negative publicity in her 2007 article "I wish I'd never heard of Phil Collins", writing that it was difficult for her to hear his work "without being riven by distaste for the man himself". According to Jeff Shannon in The Seattle Times, Collins is the "target of much South Park derision". A New Musical Express writer also observed the series' "endless lampooning" of Collins.
Several critics have commented on Collins's omnipresence, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s. Journalist Frank DiGiacomo wrote a 1999 piece for The New York Observer titled The Collins Menace; he said, "Even when I sought to escape the sounds in my head by turning on the TV, there would be Mr. Collins ... mugging for the cameras—intent on showing the world just how hard he would work to sell millions of records to millions of stupid people." In his 2010 article Love don't come easy: artists we love to hate, The Irish Times critic Kevin Courtney expressed similar sentiments. Naming Collins as one of the ten most disliked pop stars in the world, he wrote: " performed at Live Aid, playing first at Wembley, then flying over to Philadelphia via Concorde, just to make sure no one in the U.S. got off lightly. By the early 1990s, Phil phatigue had really set in." Appraising Collins's legacy in a 2013 review of the American Psycho musical (adapted from a 2000 film incorporating his music), The Guardian critic Tom Service described Collins as "un-stomachable" and his music as "perfectly vacuous". He also compared him unfavourably with pop contemporaries such as the Pet Shop Boys and The Human League, whose music he said had endured far more successfully. Service described Collins's most popular album No Jacket Required (1985) as "unlistenable to today", reserving particular criticism for "Sussudio".
Collins received acerbic comments in the press following reports about his retirement in 2011. He was dubbed "the most hated man in rock" by The Daily Telegraph, and by FHM as "the pop star that nobody likes". Rolling Stone journalist John Dioso acknowledged "the incredible, overwhelming popularity" Collins and Genesis achieved, but said that he had become "a negative figure in the music world" and that the reaction to his legacy was strongly unfavourable. Tim Chester of the New Musical Express alluded to the widespread disdain for Collins in an article titled, "Is It Time We All Stopped Hating Phil Collins?" He described Collins as "the go-to guy for ironic appreciation and guilty pleasures" and stated he was responsible for "some moments of true genius (often accompanied, it must be said, by some real stinkers)". He also argued that "Genesis turned shit at the precise point he jumped off the drum stool" to replace the departing Peter Gabriel as frontman, and said of the unrelenting derision he has suffered, "a lot of it he brings on himself." He said that Collins was "responsible for some of the cheesiest music ever committed to acetate". Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone mentioned that Phil Collins hate sites had "flourished" online, and acknowledged that he had been called "the sellout who took Peter Gabriel's Genesis, that paragon of prog-rock, and turned it into a lame-o pop act and went on to make all those supercheesy hits that really did define the 1980s".
According to author Dylan Jones in his 2013 publication on 1980s popular music, many of Collins's peers "despised" him. Some fellow artists have made negative comments about Collins publicly. In 1990, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters criticised Collins's "ubiquitous nature", including his involvement in The Who's 1989 reunion tour. David Bowie subsequently dismissed some of his own poorly received 1980s output as his "Phil Collins years/albums". In addition to the song's negative press from music journalists, singer-songwriter and political activist Billy Bragg criticised Collins for writing "Another Day in Paradise", stating: "Phil Collins might write a song about the homeless, but if he doesn't have the action to go with it he's just exploiting that for a subject." On the closing track of their 2014 album What Have We Become?, titled "When I Get Back to Blighty", former Beautiful South collaborators Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott included the lyric "everyone around us agrees that Phil Collins must die", which musicOMH critic David Meller remarked in his review "is delivered with willing, almost pleasurable conviction by Abbott".
Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher criticised Collins on multiple occasions, including the comment: "Just because you sell lots of records, it doesn't mean to say you're any good. Look at Phil Collins." Collins said he has "at times, been very down" about Noel Gallagher's comments. Gallagher's brother, Oasis singer Liam, also recalled the "boring" Collins's chart dominance in the 1980s and stated that, by the 1990s, it was "time for some real lads to get up there and take charge". Appearing on the BBC television series Room 101 in 2005, in which guests discuss their most hated things and people, Collins nominated the Gallaghers to be sent into the titular room. He described them as "horrible" and stated: "They're rude and not as talented as they think they are. I won't mince words here, but they've had a go at me personally."
Collins acknowledged in 2010 that he had been "omnipresent". He said of his character: "The persona on stage came out of insecurity ... it seems embarrassing now. I recently started transferring all my VHS tapes onto DVD to create an archive, and everything I was watching, I thought, 'God, I'm annoying.' I appeared to be very cocky, and really I wasn't." Collins concedes his status as a figure of contempt for many people and has said that he believes this is a consequence of his music being overplayed. In 2011 he said: "The fact that people got so sick of me wasn't really my fault … It's hardly surprising that people grew to hate me. I'm sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn't mean it to happen like that!" He described criticism of his physical appearance over the years as "a cheap shot", but has acknowledged the "very vocal element" of Genesis fans who believe that the group sold out under his tenure as lead singer.
Collins denied that his retirement in 2011 was due to negative attention and said that his statements had been taken out of context. He said: "I have ended up sounding like a tormented weirdo who thinks he was at the Alamo in another life, who feels very sorry for himself, and is retiring hurt because of the bad press over the years. None of this is true."
Paul Lester of The Guardian wrote in 2013 that Collins is one of several pop acts that "used to be a joke" but are "now being hailed as gods". Despite the criticism he has received, Collins has become an iconic figure within U.S. urban music, influencing artists such as Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé. His songs have been sampled by various hip-hop and contemporary R&B acts, and performers including Lil' Kim, Kelis and Wu-Tang Clan co-founder Ol' Dirty Bastard covered his work on the 2001 tribute album Urban Renewal. In 2004, indie rock musician Ben Gibbard praised Collins's singing, claiming he's a "great vocalist". Collins's music has been championed by his contemporary, the heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, David Crosby has called him "a dear friend" who has helped him "enormously", Queen guitarist Brian May called him "a great guy and an amazing drummer", and Robert Plant paid tribute to him as "the most spirited and positive and really encouraging force" when commencing his own solo career after the break-up of Led Zeppelin. Collins has been championed by modern artists in diverse genres, including indie rock groups The 1975, Generationals, Neon Indian, Yeasayer, St. Lucia and Sleigh Bells, electronica artist Lorde, and soul singer Diane Birch, who said in 2014, "Collins walks a really fine line between being really cheesy and being really sophisticated. He can seem appalling, but at the same time, he has awesome production values and there's a particular richness to the sound. It's very proficient in the instrumentation and savvy about melodies."
Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford has praised Collins's personality, saying that "he always had a bloke-next-door, happy-go-lucky demeanour about him: let's have a drink in the pub, crack a joke, smoke a cigarette or a joint". He has been characterised by favourable critics as a "rock god", and an artist who has remained "down to earth". In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, published in 2004, J. D. Considine wrote: "For a time, Phil Collins was nearly inescapable on the radio, and enormously popular with the listening public — something that made him an obvious target for critics. Despite his lumpen-pop appeal, however, Collins is an incisive songwriter and resourceful musician." Creation Records founder Alan McGee wrote in 2009 that there was a "non-ironic revival of Phil Collins" happening. According to McGee: "The kids don't care about 'indie cred' anymore. To them, a great pop song is just that: a great pop song. In this time of revivals, nothing is a sacred cow anymore, and that can only be a good thing for music." Commenting on Collins's popularity with hip-hop acts, he argued: "It's not surprising. Collins is a world-class drummer whose songs immediately lend themselves to being sampled."
In 2010, Gary Mills of The Quietus made an impassioned defence of Collins: "There can't be many figures in the world of pop who have inspired quite the same kind of hatred-bordering-on-civil-unrest as Collins, and there can't be too many who have shifted anything like the 150 million plus units that he's got through as a solo artist either ... The disgrace of a career bogged entirely in the determined dross of No Jacket Required however is simply not justified, regardless of how Collins gained either his fortune, or his public image." David Sheppard wrote for the BBC in 2010: "Granted, Collins has sometimes been guilty of painting the bull's-eye on his own forehead (that self-aggrandising Live Aid Concorde business, the cringe-worthy lyrics to 'Another Day in Paradise', Buster, etc.), but nonetheless, the sometime Genesis frontman's canon is so substantial and his hits so profuse that it feels myopic to dismiss him merely as a haughty purveyor of tortured, romantic ballads for the middle income world."
Rolling Stone journalist Erik Hedegaard has expressed disapproval of the widespread criticism which Collins has received, suggesting that he has been "unfairly and inexplicably vilified". Martin C. Strong stated in 2011 that "the enigmatic and amiable Phil Collins has had his fair share of mockers and critics over the years, although one thing is sure, and that is his dexterity and undeniable talent". In a piece the following year, titled "10 Much-Mocked Artists It's Time We Forgave", New Musical Express critic Anna Conrad said Collins had been portrayed as a "villain", and wrote: "Was the bile really justified? ... come on, admit it. You've air drummed to 'In the Air Tonight', and loved it." The Guardian journalist Dave Simpson wrote a complimentary article in 2013; while acknowledging "few pop figures have become as successful and yet reviled as Phil Collins", he argued "it's about time we recognised Collins's vast influence as one of the godfathers of popular culture".
Collins was married to Andrea Bertorelli from 1975 to 1980. They met as 11-year-old students in a London drama class, later dated, but her family moved to Canada when she was 18. The two reconnected when Genesis performed in Vancouver, and they married in England when both were 24. They have a son, Simon Collins, who became the vocalist and drummer of the progressive rock band Sound of Contact. Collins adopted Bertorelli's daughter Joely, who became an actress and film producer. In December 2016, Bertorelli announced that she was taking legal action against Collins pertaining to his account of their relationship in his recent autobiography, Not Dead Yet.
Collins met his second wife, American Jill Tavelman, in 1980. They were married from 1984 to 1996. They had one daughter, Lily Collins, born in 1989.
Collins married his third wife, Orianne Cevey, a Swiss national, in 1999. They have two sons, Nicholas and Matthew. They bought Sir Jackie Stewart's former house located in Begnins, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva. They divorced in 2008, with Collins paying £25 million, which became the largest settlement in a British celebrity divorce. Collins continued to live in Switzerland at the time, residing in Féchy, while he also maintained homes in New York City and Dersingham, Norfolk. In 2008, his ex-wife moved to Miami with the children from the marriage. Collins recalled: "I went through a few bits of darkness; drinking too much. I killed my hours watching TV and drinking, and it almost killed me." He revealed in 2015 that he had been teetotal for three years. In 2015, Collins moved to Miami to be closer to his family, living in a separate home previously owned by Jennifer Lopez. In January 2016, Collins said he had reunited with Cevey and they were living together in the house he had bought in Miami.
Collins was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 wealthiest people in the British music industry. In 2012 Collins was estimated to be the second wealthiest drummer in the world, beaten to first place by Ringo Starr.
On 29 March 2000, Collins launched a case against two former musicians from his band to recoup £500,000 ($780,000) in royalties that were overpaid. Louis Satterfield, 62, and Rahmlee Davis, 51, claimed their contract entitled them to 0.5 per cent of the royalties from Serious Hits... Live!, a live album recorded during Collins's Seriously, Live! World Tour in 1990. Their claim was they were an integral part of the whole album, but Collins responded the two should only receive royalties from the five tracks in which they were involved. Instead of asking for a return of what Collins considered overpayment, he sought to recoup the funds by withholding future royalties to Satterfield and Davis.
On 19 April 2000, the High Court ruled that the two musicians would receive no more royalty money from Phil Collins. The amount that Collins was seeking was halved, and Satterfield and Davis (who originally brought the suit forward in California) would not have to repay any of it. The judge agreed with Collins's argument that Satterfield and Davis should have been paid for only the five tracks on which they performed, including the hit "Sussudio".
Collins had reportedly lost hearing in his left ear in 2000 due to a viral infection; the condition was resolved after the infection was cured. In September 2009, it was reported that Collins could no longer play the drums, due to a recent operation to repair dislocated vertebrae in his neck. A statement from Collins on the Genesis band website said, "There isn't any drama regarding my 'disability' and playing drums. Somehow during the last Genesis tour I dislocated some vertebrae in my upper neck and that affected my hands. After a successful operation on my neck, my hands still can't function normally. Maybe in a year or so it will change, but for now it is impossible for me to play drums or piano. I am not in any 'distressed' state; stuff happens in life." However, in 2010 Collins alluded to feelings of depression and low self-esteem in recent years, claiming in an interview that he had contemplated suicide, but he resisted for the sake of his children.
In October 2014, Collins told John Wilson on BBC Radio 4's Front Row that he still could not play the drums; he said the problem was not arthritis but an undiagnosed nerve problem where he was unable to "grip the sticks". He confirmed in a 2016 interview that he was still unable to drum with the left hand; however, he has also said that after a major back surgery, his doctor advised him that if he wanted to play the drums again, all he needed to do was practice as long as he took it step by step.
Collins has received several honorary degrees in recognition of his work in music and his personal interests. In 1987 he received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 1991 he received an honorary doctorate of music at the Berklee College of Music. On 12 May 2012 he received an honorary doctorate of history at the McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, for his research and collection of Texas Revolution artefacts and documents (see other interests section).
Collins has often been mentioned erroneously in the British media as being a supporter of the Conservative Party and an opponent of the Labour Party. This derives from the famous article in The Sun, printed on the day of the 1992 UK general election, titled "If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights", which stated that Collins was among several celebrities who were planning to leave Britain in the event of a Labour victory.
Collins is sometimes reported in the British press to have left the UK and moved to Switzerland in protest at the Labour Party's victory in the 1997 general election. Shortly before the 2005 election (when Collins was living in Switzerland), Labour supporter Noel Gallagher was quoted: "Vote Labour. If you don't and the Tories get in, Phil Collins is threatening to come back and live here. And let's face it, none of us want that." However, Collins has since stated that although he did once claim many years earlier that he might leave Britain if most of his income was taken in tax, which was Labour Party policy at that time for top earners, he has never been a Conservative Party supporter and he left Britain for Switzerland in 1994 purely because he started a relationship with a woman who lived there. He said of Gallagher: "I don't care if he likes my music or not. I do care if he starts telling people I'm a wanker because of my politics. It's an opinion based on an old misunderstood quote."
Despite his statement that he did not leave Britain for tax purposes, Collins was one of several wealthy figures living in tax havens who were singled out for criticism in a 2008 report by the charity Christian Aid. The Independent included Collins as one of their "ten celebrity tax exiles", erroneously repeating that he had left the country when Labour won the 1997 general election and that he threatened to return if the Conservatives won in 2005. Referring to the 1997 general election in his article "Famous men and their misunderstood politics" for MSN, Hugh Wilson stated: "Labour won it in a landslide, which just goes to show the influence pop stars really wield". He also wrote that Collins's reported comments and subsequent move to Switzerland led to "accusations of hypocrisy" since he had "bemoaned the plight of the homeless in the song 'Another Day in Paradise'", making him "an easy target when future elections came round". The Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott song "When I Get Back to Blighty", from their 2014 album What Have We Become?, made reference to Collins as "a prisoner to his tax returns".
Questioned about his politics by Mark Lawson in an interview for the BBC, broadcast in 2009, Collins said: "My father was Conservative but it wasn't quite the same, I don't think, when he was alive. Politics never loomed large in our family anyway. I think the politics of the country were very different then." In a 2016 interview in The Guardian, Collins stated that talking about politics to The Sun was one of his biggest regrets. When asked whether he had ever voted Conservative, he said: "I didn’t vote, actually. And that’s not something I’m proud of. I was just so busy that I rarely was here."
Collins has a long-standing interest in the Alamo. He has collected hundreds of artefacts related to the famous 1836 battle in San Antonio, Texas, narrated a light and sound show about the Alamo, and has spoken at related events. His passion for the Battle of the Alamo has also led him to write the book The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey, ISBN 978-1-933337-50-0, published in 2012. A short film was released in 2013 called Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier which captures Collins on a book tour in June 2012. On 26 June 2014, a press conference was held from The Alamo, where Collins spoke, announcing that he was donating his entire collection to The Alamo via the State of Texas. On 11 March 2015, in honour of his donation, Collins was named an honorary Texan by the state legislature.
In common with Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton, Collins is also a model railway enthusiast.
Collins was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in 1994, in recognition of his work on behalf of the Prince's Trust. Collins has stated he is a supporter of animal rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In 2005 he donated autographed drum sticks in support of PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In February 2000, Collins and his wife Orianne founded Little Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to "...realise the dreams of children in the fields of sports and art" by providing future prodigies aged 4 to 16 years with financial, material, and mentoring support with the help of experts in various fields. Collins took the action after receiving letters from children asking him how they could break into the music industry. Mentors to the students who have benefited from his foundation include Tina Turner and Natalie Cole. In 2013 he visited Miami Beach, Florida, to promote the expansion of his foundation.
Collins supports the South African charity Topsy Foundation, which provides relief services to some of South Africa's most under-resourced rural communities through a multi-faceted approach to the consequences of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. He donates all the royalties earned from his music sales in South Africa to the organisation.