... A Brief History
(Part One: 1951-1979)
Philip David Charles Collins
was born on January 30, 1951 in Chiswick, London. Collins, who's father
was a second generation insurance executive and his mother was a reputable
booking agent, discovered the drums at the age of five. By the time he was
12 years old, Collins had his first proper drum kit, and passionately
pursued his love of playing the instrument every chance he could.
By 1965, Collins seemed to be a natural performer and joined the Barbara
Speaks Stage School. With his mother's help, Collins soon landed the role
of the Artful Dodger in Lionel Bart's production of Oliver and did
some modeling for mail order catalogs. While Phil enjoyed acting and
modeling, his time was balanced with his love of music and drumming.
Collins started a school group called The Real Thing playing Motown cover
tunes and other songs from the era.
It was also during this period that the band began
experimenting in art rock. The group gained a major cult following in
Europe and parts of North America with their powerful progressive music
and elaborate stage shows. Lead singer Peter Gabriel's stage presence and
flair of ornate costumes, along with the band's dedication to musical
perfection in the live setting, quickly gained Genesis some much needed
attention and acclaim, but the band continued to fail, commercially
speaking. Despite this, the band's momentum continued to rise.
In November 1974, Genesis released what would be their final album with
this line-up, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The conceptual double album
remains one of the group's most critically heralded projects to date. The
Lamb eventually earned gold certification in the U.S. for sales in excess
of 500,000 copies and peaked at #41 on the U.S. albums chart.
Collins, who attended a school
predominately attended by young women, became very popular for his
drumming, hip 60s fashion sense, and his charismatic charm. Of course, the
fact that he ended up being an extra in the concert footage of the Beatles
film A Hard Day's Night certainly didn't hurt either!
In 1967, Phil Collins met Ronnie Caryl, who lived up the road from him.
Collins, age 15, and Caryl, age 13, found that they had many similar
interests. Caryl was in another local stage school and was a fledgling
guitarist. Like Collins, Caryl had a burning desire for music. The two
became close friends and enjoyed playing music together. During this
period, Collins joined The Freeholdafter, being the only one to reply to
their Melody Maker advertisement for a drummer. The Freehold saw Collins
make his recording debut with a self-penned song called "Lying Crying
Phil Collins reached major a crossroad in his career in 1968 with the
release of his first true film role in Calamley The Cow. Collins
was concerned that the character he played could jeopardize his cool
status with his fellow co-eds, which resulted in clashes with the director
of the film. Ultimately, Collins role in the film was diminished leaving
him frustrated and angry with the experience. By the time the film
wrapped, Collins had made the decision to focus his time on music
Collins and Caryl continued
playing music together in various bands and ended up becoming the backing
band for an R&B group called the Bloody Ages. The duo then went on to
serve as a backing band for John Walker and the Walker Brothers in 1968
before they eventually formed their own band, Hickory.
In May 1975, at the end of The Lamb Lies Down On
Broadway tour, the band received their most devastating loss yet. Vocalist
Peter Gabriel had decided the leave the band for personal reasons.
Despite rumors to the contrary,
Genesis chose to carry on. The band returned without a lead singer to the
studio to begin work on a new album. After auditioning a number of
potential singers, Genesis bandmate Phil Collins decided to take the job
while maintaining his role as drummer.
Collins had sung lead on a few tracks previously and supported Gabriel on
backing vocals since joining the group, so he seemed like an obvious
choice to some. Others thought Collins would lack the ability to
successfully carry off signature Gabriel sung tunes like "The Musical
Box" which were staples of Genesis live shows at the
point, Genesis was still not without conflict. As democratic as Genesis
was in selecting each other's songs for album inclusion, Steve Hackett
started to feel that some of his compositions were being unfairly
overlooked. Hackett had used the gap of time the band needed to locate a
new lead singer to record his first solo album, Voyage of The Acolyte. But
the artistic freedom of one solo album did not permanently relieve his
dissatisfaction with Genesis. In fact, the creative control Hackett
experienced during the making of that solo album only intensified his
desire as a songwriter and musician.
A young Phil Collins rocks out on
Genesis in 1975 (L-R): Collins,
Banks, Gabriel and Hackett
and Caryl would hang out in London on Tin Pan Alley Street in a
café called the Giaconda. One day, while hanging out in the Giaconda, the
duo met Brian Chatton, who had a contact with Ken Howard and Alan Blakely,
successful producers who had successes with bands like The Herd among others.
Chatton shared with Collins and Caryl that Howard and Blakely were looking
for a group to do a concept album about the last spaceship leaving a dying
planet Earth called
As a result of that contact, Chatton, Collins, and Caryl became the band
Flaming Youth and released the Ark2 album in 1969.
The album was premiered
at the London Planetarium, but despite positive reviews in the press, the
album was a commercial disaster. The band returned to record one follow up
single called "Man, Woman and Child." When the new single failed
to make any commercial impact, Flaming Youth disbanded.
By the mid-70s, in his spare
time, Phil Collins was also actively working as a session musician for
artists like Brian Eno, Tommy Bolin, John Cale, Jack Lancaster, and Rod Argent. Among those various session
recordings, Collins played drums on Eddie Howell's 1975 Gramaphone Record
album (later renamed The Man From Manhattan). It was during these sessions
that Collins met Percy Jones, John Goodsall, and Robin Lumley. The
foursome formed a fusion band called Brand X and by 1976 released their
debut album, Unorthodox Behavior. Collins managed to fit a few gigs in
support of the album in between Genesis commitments, but returned to
Genesis to release their next album.
Genesis' next album, 1976's Trick of The Tail,
restored their underground following's faith in the group, but started to
take the band in another direction musically. While the art rock style of
Gabriel-era Genesis disappeared, Collins proved to be a suitable
replacement as lead singer and a consummate showman. On
the 1976 Genesis tour, however, the need for Collins to get in-front of the
audience as lead vocalist, forced the band to add a second drummer.
Genesis enlisted progressive-rock drummer Bill Bruford, best known for his
work with bands like Yes and King Crimson.
Flaming Youth with Collins (front right)
In December 1976 and January 1977, Collins returned to the studio with
Brand X to record their second album, Moroccan Roll, released in April
1977. By this point, Collins' involvement with Genesis made maintaining
his participation in Brand X impossible, so he quit the band.
Genesis' next studio album,
Wind and Wuthering, was released in January 1977. While Bill Bruford
provided adequate support while Collins took center stage, he was not
satisfied simply supporting the band on the road and left at the
conclusion of the 1976 tour. So, Genesis once again found themselves
seeking a touring drummer in 1977. This time, the band hired Chester
Thompson, best known for his work with Frank Zappa and The Mothers and the
jazz super group Weather Report.
|Once again, Collins and Caryl
were a duo looking for a band. In 1970, while hanging out in the Marquee
Club in London, the two musicians ached to be a part of a band that played
out regularly. Flipping through the back pages of Melody Maker
Magazine, Collins noticed one band in particular that that had been
playing many of the local clubs on a regular basis. The group was Genesis,
a local Surrey-based band.
During one of their stints at the Marquee Club, Collins and Caryl met John
Anthony, who was Genesis’ producer at the time. Anthony mentioned to the
duo that Genesis was auditioning to replace guitarist Anthony Phillips and
drummer John Mayhew, the band's third drummer in three years, who had both
recently departed. Simultaneously, an ad was running in Melody Maker
announcing Genesis' search for new talent.
After completing the 1977 world tour, Genesis was
mixing their second live album, Seconds Out, when Steve Hackett
announced his departure from the band. Rather than replace Hackett,
bassist Michael Rutherford decided to take on the task of guitars and
bass, making Genesis a trio. Unbeknownst to the band at the time, this new
line-up would remain intact for more than 15 years.
November 1977 also saw the
release of Livestock, Brand X's first live album, which featured
Collins on three of it's five tracks.
The three remaining members, Collins, Banks, and
Rutherford, returned to the studio to record their eleventh (and aptly
named) album, 1978's ...And Then There Were Three... Although
beyond their comprehension at the time, this album served as the catalyst
for Genesis' explosion into the mainstream.
|The prospect of regular gigs
appealed to both musicians even though neither of them were familiar with
Genesis' music. That, combined with
the fact that Genesis paid a whopping 10 uk pounds per week, twice what
Collins and Caryl made in Flaming Youth, was enough to ensure their
interest. Soon after, Collins called Genesis front man Peter Gabriel to
request an audition.
The two musicians auditioned at Peter Gabriel's parent's house in late
July of that year. Caryl auditioned with Genesis bassist Mike Rutherford
poolside, while Collins, waiting for his turn to audition behind the
drums, was offered to swim in the family swimming pool. While swimming,
Collins listened carefully to the other drumming auditions and by the time
his turn came, was able to breeze through the audition. "Just the way
he sat down on the stool, I knew that he was going to be good"
recollected Gabriel about Collins' confidence in a 2002 interview with the
| The ...And Then There
Were Three... album effectively bridged
the transition from progressive rock to radio-orientated pop, earning the
band's first RIAA-certified gold record for 500,000 plus copies sold in
the States and yielded their first big U.S. hit, "Follow You Follow
Me," which reached #23 on the singles chart.
Years later, ...And Then There Were Three... would go on to earn
platinum certification for more than one million copies sold and peak at
#14 on the albums chart in the United States.
the departure of Steve Hackett from Genesis, another guitarist was needed
for touring purposes. For this reason, the band chose Daryl Stuermer who
was best known for his work with jazz greats like George Duke and Jean-Luc
Genesis in the early 1970s (L-R): Peter
Gabriel, Phil Collins,
Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Tony Banks
On August 4, 1970, Collins
received the news that he had gotten the job as Genesis' new drummer.
Unfortunately for Caryl, he did not secure the guitarist's seat in the
band. Despite being given a second chance at Collins' request, the duo of
Collins and Caryl had ended with Collins' union with Genesis.
Brand X with Phil Collins (second from
As Genesis began to evolve musically, some fans felt that the
group's departure from the progressive sound of the early to mid 1970s was
a form of selling out, commercially speaking. Despite this, the band
continued to follow their artistic vision and eventually gained public
acclaim (although, critical acclaim typically alluded the band throughout
most of their career).
By the end of August, Collins was rehearsing with Genesis and their second
album, Trespass, recorded prior to Collins' arrival, is released in
October 1970 in Europe.
While trying to identify a new bandmate to
replace Anthony Phillips, Genesis' then recently departed guitarist, the
band temporarily enlisted the help of Mick Barnard. Mick performed with
the band live, but ultimately his role with Genesis was short lived.
By the end of 1970, Genesis identified
guitarist Steve Hackett to permanently fill the guitarist's spot and
Genesis' line-up was complete. This
newly revamped Genesis line-up would remain intact for five years. During this
period, Genesis released four studio albums (Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot,
Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway),
one live album, and toured almost non-stop.
the end of the 1978 world tour, Phil Collins announced to Genesis
members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford that he needed to either take a
hiatus from the band or quit the group. Collins felt that he needed to leave
for Vancouver, Canada to attempt to repair his marriage, which had fallen
pray to Collins' rigorous schedule of recording sessions and touring.
Rather than carry on without him, Banks and Rutherford decided to focus on
solo projects, allowing Collins to remain in Genesis while still tending
to the needs of his personal life.
By 1979, Collins determined that his marriage was
not repairable, and returned to active session work. Among these projects
was a brief return to Brand X for the Product album, as well as
session work with Robert Fripp, David Greenslade, and the progressive rock
band Camel among others. Collins had also started writing some songs of
his own for his first solo album. Some of these songs, unbeknownst to
Collins, would later surface on the next Genesis album, Duke.
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