March 8, 2011, - 2:07 am

False Alarm?: Saying Good-Bye to Phil Collins

By Debbie Schlussel

One of the groups I’ve loved since growing up as a kid in the early ’80s is “Genesis.”  The song, “Turn It On Again,” is one of my favorites and one of my regular workout tunes.  I used to do my entire workout, including my five-mile run, to “Three Sides Live,” and have always wanted to see the group live in concert.  When they came to Detroit in 2007-8, I couldn’t see them because I was mourning my late father, and Judaism prohibits attendance at such gatherings during the mourning period.  And, now, I guess I’ll never be able to see them.  Not with lead singer Phil Collins, anyway, and so there’s no point, as he’s the magical voice and glue behind the group’s best songs.  This week, Collins announced in an interview that he’s leaving the music business, and that saddens me.  A lot.  I definitely missed out. Here’s what I missed out on from exactly thirty(?!) years ago, my very fave Genesis song (by Mike Rutherford):

Genesis – Turn It On Again (Live 1981) (Official Music Video). Watch more top selected videos about: Genesis

At age 60, Phil Collins says he just has too many medical and health problems from his career as a rock and pop star.  He has back problems, the dislocated vertebra in his neck, nerve damage in his hands, and hearing loss, much of it from being a drummer and some of it from the noise of being on stage for prolonged periods of time.  I’m sad to see him go.  Collins not only had a great voice, even if it’s now somewhat strained since his heyday of the early ’80s, but he was a great drummer and showman, too.  His lyrics and singing, while including some cheesiness, also include some really great stuff, like “Abacab,” “Misunderstanding,” “Paperlate,” “You Might Recall,” “Home By the Sea” (first and second), and “Things Are Gonna Get Better.”

Call me cheesy, but I even liked his “Easy Lover” collaboration with “Earth, Wind & Fire’s”  Philip Bailey.   Collins wrote and sang great stuff both with Genesis and as a solo artist.  And if I never get a chance to see that in person, it’ll be a regret.  Not one of the major regrets.  But I hear a Genesis concert with Collins at the helm is a one-of-a-kind, fun experience. It’s hard for me to pick my fave Genesis and Phil Collins songs and videos–there are so many I love.  Plus, as I’ve noted on this site before, I love that, at a time when most artists were shunning the Jewish State, Collins and Genesis chose, in 2005 to become one of the first major bands to perform in the Israel again, ignoring calls by pro-Palestinian hoodlums and pan-terrorists.  It put a big dent in the long-time Jewish urban legend that Collins denounced Jews at a concert and asked them to leave.  And it led the way for other artists to resume performing in Israel.

Although some reports now claim he’s backtracking a little bit, Time Magazine reports that Collins told FHM (and the interview is nowhere on FHM’s site yet) he’s not only leaving the biz, but apologizes for his success and laments that everyone hates him. Say it ain’t so, Phil:

Citing health problems, the famed Genesis drummer and vocalist is calling it quits from the music biz. He tells FHM that years of hunching behind his drum kit has left him with an array of medical problems, from hearing loss to a dislocated vertebra, and nerve damage in his stick-clutching hands make playing painful.

Collins’s career has brought him 13 hit singles, seven Grammys, and even an Academy Award for his work on the Disney musical movie Tarzan, winning in 1999 for best original song. “I’m sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn’t mean it to happen like that. It’s hardly surprising that people grew to hate me,” he said. Critics – and their harsh words – have emerged louder than the guitars of the modern rock era. Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher famously cut down the drummer in past years, quoted as saying, “You don’t have to be great to be successful. Look at Phil Collins.”

He lives in a small town in Switzerland now, attempting to distance himself from the music scene. The report that he’s calling it quits from the music business just seems to make his actions official. “I don’t really belong to that world and I don’t think anyone’s going to miss me. I’m much happier just to write myself out of the script entirely,” he told FHM. Today’s world of MTV Music Awards and artists who care more about celebrity status than making music make the choice easy, he says.

Like I said, there are now a few reports he’s backing away from those comments, but they sound pretty final and resigned to me. Hope I’m wrong . . . and that I’ll finally get to see that “Genesis” concert with all the guys together again.

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32 Responses

Not only did he and his compatriots produce some great and innovative music, from all accounts I’ve seen, he is a genuinely good fellow.

Kent on March 8, 2011 at 3:05 am

If it is health issues, then Phil should leave for the sake of his future and such.

In terms of song Misunderstanding and Turn it on I like. But some of his solo work was something…

Something Happened on the Way To Heaven

Tonight, Tonight


And the at times overplayed on the radio In The Air Tonight, Another Day in Paradise

He also had a duet with Phillip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire called Easy Lover.

It’s songs too many to mention.

I took up drums in the 80’s…I quit taking lessons because I wanted to concentrate on school. Ended up selling a Pearl drum set at a tag sale for $400. Given Phil’s condition, I guess I’m glad I am not playing the drums anymore.

Bob Porrazzo on March 8, 2011 at 6:34 am

I like Phil Collins — he has such a distinctive voice.

A few of my fave songs of his are : ‘I Wish It Would Rain Down’ and ‘Jesus He Knows Me’.

But all good things must come to an end and I dare say this is an example of that.

Barry on March 8, 2011 at 6:50 am

My best to PC. Never, ever one of my favourites but I too loved “Easy Lover”. I also like “Mama” and “Just A Job To Do”.

I read a very self-deprecating article on him last month and it made me like him more.

I’d feel the way DS does if it were Robert Plant. Robert Plant is MY Phil Collins.

Oh, I loved his drums on Freida’s “Something Going On”. Thanks Phil!

Skunky on March 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

He appeared on at least one episode of Miami Vice, I think he played a televangelist? I remember it was good, check out Hulu.

Jewish Marksman on March 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

All things must pass. I liked some of his stuff. I’ll be really sad when Dylan passes on.

bjr118 on March 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

I think the most interesting thing about Phil Collins is the fact that he is a big Alamo buff. I’d like to know how he got interested in the subject. Apparently he owns an actual receipt for some cattle signed by William Travis.

Hopewell on March 8, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Unlike Ozzy Osbourne who was banned from San Antonio for 10 years for peeing on the commemorative cenotaph across the street from the Alamo on February 19th 1982.

    I visited The Alamo (also in Feb 1982) and was shocked by how small it actually is.

    ebayer on March 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The Roof is Leaking is another powerful tune by Collins.
“Today’s world of MTV Music Awards and artists who care more about celebrity status than making music make the choice easy, he says.” This is the saddest part. There are great musicians playing clubs and halls, but not many, if any, break through to mainstream success.

Gregg S. on March 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

A good man and a Great Musician. Sad. Who could hate this guy?

Occam's Tool on March 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm

And I always thought the song was about Paper Plates….

#1 Vato on March 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Given what was cited about the backbiting of Collins by rock critics and some fellow rockers, special mention should be made to his being named runner-up (along with Paul McCartney and Duran Duran – the winner was Billy Joel) for the “Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Artist of All Time” in Jimmy Guterman and Owen O’Donnell’s 1991 book “The Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Records of All Time.”

But it also appears that he, like many other rockers of his era, didn’t exactly take good care of themselves (though in his case, there wouldn’t have been the drug-soaked debauchery – or at least, not necessarily). As for his hearing loss – throughout my life, I’ve worn earplugs when going out, especially with the loud noise of city living. This lack of care seems to be an occupational hazard of the rock stars of old.

ConcernedPatriot on March 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I don’t know. He said in a statement he’s doing this to “spend more time with his family.” That usually means the person will be back in a year.

Blayne on March 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Truly sad. I have recently taken an interest in Genesis/Phil Collins music and was hoping to see them/him in concert. My fav is “Against All Odds(take a look at me now) 🙁

Loretta on March 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm

“Call me cheesy”

Alright, you’re cheesy. When I was in junior high and high school (1969-1975), the Peter Gabriel-led Genesis was one of those groups that used to get quite a bit of press in Rolling Stone, even though you hardly ever heard them on the radio. I always felt that the smallness of their cult following was well deserved. What little I had heard of them at the time did not impress. Back then, they essentially fell into the same category as other artsy-fartsy British groups like Yes, The Moody Blues, King Crimson and E.L.P, except that none of their material was particularly memorable, at least to my ears.

When Gabriel left to go solo in the mid 70s, and the drummer took over as the front-man, I was only aware of it because I used to read a lot of the trade publications in those days. While no one can begrudge them their sudden ascent from getting no airplay on underground FM radio to getting tons of it on top 40 AM radio, to this day, I remain unimpressed.

While Phil Collins is, by all accounts, a likable person, the fact is, most of his music was at best nondescript, and at worst, downright derivative. I remember hearing this on the radio for the first time:

…and immediately noticed it was identical to this, beginning at the 55 mark:

Irving on March 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Debbie I always liked the earlier Genesis stuff like you posted. PC’s support for Israel was a big mitzvah that easily outweighs the later drek he put out to pay off all his ex-wives.

A1 on March 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Genesis reached their creative genius when they did “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. The record, and subsequent tour would prove to be the last for future solo great Peter Gabriel.

Three Sides Live was a good one to listen to as well when I was a wee little lad growing up.

trewsdetroit on March 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm


I was equally bummed when I heard the false rumors that Peter Gabriel was going to tour one more time with these guys. But alas, he said he looks forward and not in the past.

trewsdetroit on March 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hi Debbie

Yes, Genesis was definitely one of my faves in the 80s. When I was stationed in Germany I saw them live during their Invisible Touch tour. It rained and I got soaked but it was worth it. They played the Invisible Touch songs, older Genesis, and even the solo stuff from the three main guys. It’s sad that he won’t be doing anything more musically, but I’ve expected it after hearing about the nerve damage in his hands.

Sean on March 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Meanwhile, Roger Waters has gone public, urging his fellow “artists” to boycott Israel. He will be (ghost) writing an opinion piece in The Times, and released and idiotic, anti-Israel statement yesterday. I hate to say it, but I’ll never again buy another Pink Album!(And I liked the band.)
Thank you, Debbie. I can’t praise you and your work enough. Bob Brodsky

Bob Brodsky on March 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I was greatly infuenced by Phil’s drumming with early Genesis.

I saw them live when first Phil came out front. Bill Bruford of Yes and King Crimson was the drummer on that tour.

I again saw Genesis in Frankfurt Germany right around the release of Wind and Wuthering.

Things changed for me when Genesis and later a solo Collins became more pop oriented. (IMO: overly so.)

Regardless, a great singer, drummer and producer, Phil will be missed on the music scene.

Sam Adams on March 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm


We can always trust you to get the truth on any topic.

I always thought that Phil was an anti Semite due to the rumors that were spread about him. Thanks for clarifying that hes is not anti Semitic.

Facts Life on March 8, 2011 at 7:13 pm

So you like Phil Collins?

I’ve been a big Genesis fan, ever since the release of their 1980 album, “Duke”.

Before that I didn’t really understand any of their work, it was too artsy, too intellectual.

It was on “Duke” where Phil Collins presence became more apparent.

I think “Invisible Touch” is the group’s undisputed masterpiece.

It’s an epic meditation on intangibility and at the same time it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding 3 albums.

Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford.

You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument.

In terms of lyrical craftsmanship and sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism.

Take the lyrics to “Land of Confusion”.

In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority.

“In Too Deep” is the most moving pop song of the 1980’s.

About monogamy and commitment, the song is extremely uplifting.

Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I’ve heard in rock.

Phil Collins solo career seems to be more commercial, and therefore more satisfying in a narrower way. especially songs like, “In The Air Tonight” and “Against All Odds”.

I also think, Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group than as a solo artist, and I stress the word ARTIST!

American Psycho on March 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

The song ‘In The Air Tonight’ and ‘Land of Confusion’ are my favorites. Has anyone seen the ‘Illegal Alien’ song by Genesis? It is satire about the struggles of illegal aliens coming from Mexico. If the video was made now Genesis would be dropped from any record label. PC police. I am of Mexican descent and I thought it was funny in the spirit of Speedy Gonzalez. Unfortunately, 2011 is not 1983 and people play the victim card and everyone must toe the line and go along to get along. The video is hard to find on YouTube and may have a self-imposed ban. I also don’t think Genesis didn’t want anyone to misuse the meaning of it and use it in a mean-spirited way.

CaliforniaScreaming on March 8, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Speaking of Good-Bye’s to musicians, one of the best was Gerry Rafferty. He passed away in January. His song ‘Baker Street’ and ‘Right Down The Line’ were pure gold.

CaliforniaScreaming on March 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    OMG Cali, you just shocked the shiite out of me!

    Gerry Rafferty? I loved him!

    “Home and Dry” is my favourite song. I can’t believe he passed on. I had no idea!

    God bless GR. My Mum loved him…so that is how I know him.

    I’m sad now. 🙁

    Skunky on March 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I also like Phil Collins, both with the band Genesis and solo. I saw Phil Collins in concert in 1989. Unfortunately I haven’t seen Genesis in concert.

Also thank you, Debbie, for clarifying that PC is not an anti-Semite.

JeffE on March 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The best Genesis was in the 70’s after Peter Gabriel left and Phil took over. Check out Wind and Wuthering, Tick of the Tail,, And then There Were Three, and Duke. I think you would enjoy them very much.

sjh on March 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

What do you know about prog, baby?

Back in 78, I went to my first rock concert at the CNE Grandstand. Genesis was headlining, and it was an intense show. First contact high as well, and PC could really rock a tambourine.

But if you want to hear a real kick-ass tune, check out “Watcher of the Skies” from “Trespass”. Even back then, PC could rock the kit along with Bill Bruford, Roger Taylor and Carl Palmer.

Too bad that people nowadays want something that is a disposable instant idol hit. Aural fast food. Style without substance and craftsmanship. Empty inspirations. I can’t stand most of today’s music-by-committee-and-focus-groups.

Happy trails, PC. Get well soon.

The Reverend Jacques on March 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Saw Genesis at Cobo Hall in 1983. The show was over 3 hours long, but felt like 10 minutes. It still ranks in the top 3 shows I have ever seen.

Sam on March 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Phil is probably one of the more underrated drummers in pop/rock history. His drum work with Genesis is amazingly fresh with all sorts of odd time changes and tribal beats plus he is the man who created the single-handed greatest drum fill of all time.

Dan Schneider on March 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Debbie, check out Collins’ drumming on Selling England by the Pound and Foxtrot. The overall albums are LP in style & scope but musically, they are great episodes of Genesis.

He has led a distinctive voice for popular music. His contributions are many.

P. Aaron on March 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

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