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Collins, Phil

album charts hit gold

Collins, Phil, Genesis drummer who became a pop icon; b. London, Jan. 31, 1951. One of pop music’s most unlikely stars, Phil Collins began his career as a child actor, largely thanks to his mother, a talent agent. In his early teens, he was one of the screaming extras in the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and played the Artful Dodger in a London stage production of Oliver .

However, Collins’s passion was for playing the drums. After a brief stint with the short-lived band Flaming Youth, he took the drummer’s throne in the progressive rock group Genesis. Upon the sudden exit of lead vocalist Peter Gabriel, Collins sat through hundreds of auditions for a new vocalist, although he had already done the job on several songs, like “More Fool Me” from Selling England by the Pound . The band finally agreed that Collins should take over as singer. On stage, he was freed from his drumming chores by former Yes drummer Bill Bruford. As he long maintained that he was a drummer who sang, however, he kept his playing sharp during hiatuses from Genesis by working with the jazz-rock group Brand X.

With Collins on vocals, Genesis started to move away from progressive rock bombast to a more smooth pop sound. After building a following over the course of several albums, And Then There Were Three … finally broke the band in a big way on the U.S. pop market. The song “Follow You, Follow Me” reached #23 on the pop charts. Their next album, Duke furthered this with the AOR hit “Turn It On Again.” “Misunderstanding” from the same album hit #14.

In 1980 Collins started working on a solo album featuring the Earth Wind and Fire horn section, among others. At the same time, Genesis started work on a new album and Collins brought the horn section with him. His album Face Value spawned the soulful “I Missed Again,” featuring the horns, which climbed to #19, as did the gold follow-up, “In the Air Tonight.” The album also went gold and hit #7, and eventually sold over five million copies. As the singles from Face Value started tapering off, Genesis’ ABACAB hit.

Collins continued his solo career with Hello, I Must Be Going in 1982, led off by a cover of the Suprêmes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love.” The song hit #2 in England and went to #10 in the U.S. The follow-up single, “I Don’t Care Anymore” reached #39. Collins also became active as a producer, working on the solo album Something’s Going On by Frida from Abba and Strip by Adam and the Ants.

Collins’s popularity rose to such an extent that filmmaker Taylor Hackford asked him to write the theme to his 1984 film Against All Odds . Taking an out-take from Face Value and slightly rewriting it, he came up with “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).” The song did better than the film, standing three weeks at the top of the charts and going gold, earning Collins an Academy Award nomination and a Best Pop Vocal Performance Grammy. Collins himself started acting again, taking a guest role on the TV show Miami Vice .

The next year, his affiliation with EWF continued, this time in the form of a duet with the group’s vocalist Phillip Bailey. That tune, “Easy Lover,” was the #2 song on the charts for a couple of weeks and went gold. Collin released No Jacket Required and the album and single “One More Night” both hit #1 on their respective charts the same week.

The single went gold, as did the following charttopping single, “Sussudio.” “Don’t Lose My Number” followed that into the #4 slot. While the album had one more single in it, the #7 “Take Me Home,” Collins also topped the charts again with “Separate Lives,” a duet with Marilyn Martin cut for the film White Nights. No Jacket Required eventually earned Collins a diamond award (for sales in excess of ten million), as well as Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Grammys. It represents the height of Collins’s career as a recording artist, as well as a performer in clever video clips. (”Take Me Home” featured Collins singing the song from various locations around the world; “Easy Lover” showed Collins and Bailey clowning around on a soundstage.)

Over the next couple of years, Collins’s solo career slowed down. His work with Genesis garnered a massive hit album, Invisible Touch, which generated five Top Ten singles and went quintuple platinum. Additionally, Collins took the lead role in the film Buster, playing the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery. Two songs from the soundtrack album, “Groovy Kind of Love” and “Two Hearts,” topped the charts, with the former earning a gold record. The film, however, failed to launch a second career for Collins as a leading man.

In 1989 Collins released his next solo album, …But Seriously . It led off with the gold single “Another Day in Paradise,” a rather bleak meditation on homelessness that spent four weeks at the top of the charts. “I Wish It Would Rain,” featuring Eric Clapton (with whom Collins had toured), went to #3, and the subsequent two singles—”Do You Remember” and “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven”—both rose to #4. The album went triple platinum that year, adding another million sales along the way, and topped the charts for three weeks. Collins took the album out on tour, releasing a recording of the show as Serious HitsLive! The live album went to #14, eventually selling 4 million copies.

Collins turned his attention back to Genesis for a while, releasing the album We Can’t Dance, and two live albums drawn from the following tour. The title track “I Can’t Dance” was a hit, and was promoted by a clever video that satirized glitzy dance-oriented video artists like Michael Jackson and also TV advertisements for blue jeans. Despite this success, the band was on its last legs. Collins left the band officially in 1995.

Collins played every instrument on his next solo release, Both Sides . The album “only” went platinum, hitting #13 on the charts and yielding two singles: “Both Sides of the Story” hit #25 and “Everyday” got as high as #24. His next album, Dance in the Light went gold, but didn’t generate any hits. This gave Collins license to try something different, and he took a big band on tour, recording an album conducted by Quincy Jones. While on the road with the big band, Atlantic released a greatest hits album, …Hits . Meanwhile, Collins worked on composing music and songs for the Disney animated movie Tarzan . The album went platinum and the single “You’ll Be in My Heart” garnered Collins his first Academy Award in 2000.

Collins, Shad (actually, Lester Ralling Ston) [next] [back] Collins, Michael

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