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Phil Collins
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Phil Collins

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Phil Collins was one of the most successful musicians in the world during the 1980s, releasing thirteen U.S. Top Ten hits between 1984 and 1990.

Who Is Phil Collins?

Phil Collins became one of the most successful musicians in the world during the 1980s after replacing Peter Gabriel as the face of the band Genesis in 1975. Between 1984 and 1990, Collins released 13 U.S. Top Ten hits, including "In the Air Tonight," "You Can't Hurry Love" and "I Don't Care Anymore".

Early Life

Collins was born Philip David Charles Collins on January 30, 1951, in London, England, to parents Greville Collins, an insurance agent, and his wife June, a talent manager. One of three children, Collins grew up in a household that embraced creativity and drive. His older brother, Clive, would go on to become a professional cartoonist, while his sister competed as an ice skater.

From an early age, Collins showed a preference for the stage and music. His love for the drums began at the age of 5 when he was given a toy drum kit. By the age of 12, Collins had a real set of drums and played every chance he could get. When he was 13, Collins, a talented actor, was offered the chance to play the role of the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver!. To take on the part, Collins left the Chiswick Grammar School with his parents' blessing and enrolled in the Barbara Speake Stage School.

The decision to leave his old school, while not an easy one, proved to be a smart decision. Other acting opportunities came his way, including cameos in the Beatles' A Hard Days Night (1964) as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1969).

Genesis and Solo Career

More significantly, Collins teamed with a few fellow students to form his first band, The Real Thing. Other opportunities followed, but his first big break came in 1970 when he answered a newspaper advertisement from a Surrey band named Genesis that needed a drummer and backup vocalist. The three-year-old group, fronted by lead singer Peter Gabriel, desperately needed a change and Collins seemed to provide a spark. Over the next five years, the band churned out five studio albums, as well as a live record from a concert tour in the United States.

In 1975, Collins became the face of Genesis when Gabriel left the band to embark on a solo career. The group had auditioned some 400 singers to replace their frontman, before turning inward and handing the baton to Collins. The change from Gabriel to Collins was significant. Unlike his predecessor, Collins didn't dominate the stage with elaborate costumes. The music, too, slowly evolved away from the heady, conceptual stuff that defined the band's early sound, toward a more radio-friendly style.

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In 1978, the band, now simply consisting of Collins; keyboardist Tony Banks; and guitarist Mike Rutherford, released And Then There Were Three. The record went gold and secured the group its first American radio hit, "Follow You Follow Me." The group followed it up with a more commercial friendly album, Duke (1980).

Collins, who also performed regularly with the jazz band Brand X, soon began exploring his own solo work. In 1981, he hit the airwaves with his first solo record, Face Value. The album, backed by the popular single "In the Air Tonight," proved to be a monster hit. A year later, Collins released his second solo album, Hello, I Must Be Going, which included a pair of popular singles: "You Can't Hurry Love" and "I Don't Care Anymore".

In 1984, he penned the title song for the film soundtrack to Against All Odds, a No. 1 single that scored Collins Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song. In 1985, Collins dominated the charts again with his third solo album, No Jacket Required.

With Genesis, too, Collins demonstrated he had the golden touch. The band scored a No. 1 single in 1986 with the hit "Invisible Touch."

Acting Career

Collins also proved his talents as an actor. After the NBC police drama Miami Vice (1984) featured Collins' first single "In the Air Tonight" in one of its episodes, Collins made a guest appearance on the show. In 1988, he made his big screen debut in the film Buster. He also wrote a song for the movie, "Two Hearts", which earned him an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award for Best Original Song.

Personal Life, Health Struggles and Retirement

Collins has been married three times and is a father to five children, including actress Lily Collins. These days, Collins is more a family man than a musician. In March 2011, he made the transition official when Collins, who battled a series of health issues including a spinal problem that forced him to stop playing the drums, announced he was retiring from music. "I really don't belong in that world," stated Collins, who chose instead to help raise his two young sons with his third wife, Orianne. That same year, Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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