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Music

Phil Collins turns 65 as retirement knows no genesis

He went from drummer to frontman of Genesis, helped shape the rock scene of the past decades and dabbled in film. As you turn 65, Phil Collins, you'll be in our hearts!

It may be hard to believe now, but Phil Collins did have a life before Genesis. Performing was in his blood, and as a child he was an actor and even a model for kids' clothes. Musically, he was also active at a young age, performing with the little-known band Flaming Youth.

Born on January 30, 1951, Philip David Charles Collins attended an acting school and even had a small role in the Beatles film, "A Hard Day's Night." His big break, however, came in 1970 when he auditioned to become the drummer for the progressive rock band Genesis.

Needless to say, he got the part.

The genesis with Genesis

In the early 1970s, the band's cumbersome progrock sound made it difficult for them to tackle the US market, but with Collins' powerful drum style and tight songwriting, Genesis gradually nosed their way into the American ear.

Tensions in the band arose during production of the album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." Singer Peter Gabriel left after the album tour in 1975. Some 400 candidates were casted to fill his shoes, but ultimately the band decided to look to the back of the stage - to drummer Phil Collins - for their new frontman.

While critics were already prophesying the end of Genesis - the opposite happened.

The first album with Phil Collins at the mic, "A Trick of the Tail," jumped to the Top 40 in the US. For live performances, the trio got American drummer Chester Thompson on board, which led to exciting drum duets between him and Collins, who frequently returned to his previous instrument.

Phil Collins at the drumset, Copyright: picture alliance/united archives

Phil Collins began as Genesis' drummer - and always went back to the drums

It was largely due to Phil Collins' influence that Genesis altered its style in the second half of the 70s. The songs became shorter, and their structure was more transparent and commercial without turning shallow.

Phil goes solo

As if Collins wasn't busy enough with Genesis, he also ran a jazz fusion formation called Brand X on the side. In 1981, he released his first solo album: "Face Value."

He landed his greatest solo hit, "In the Air Tonight," with his second solo record, "Hello, I Must Be Going" in 1982. The single climbed to the top of the charts in Germany as well. Collins claimed his first Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1985 with "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)."

The following year, he topped himself by taking home three Grammys: "No Jacket Required" brought him Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, and he and Hugh Padgham also won Producer of the Year (Non-Classical).

The 80s, it seemed, were Phil Collins' decade. Everything he touched turned to gold - and his successes continued into the 90s. While his critics quickly grew weary of tracing his style developments, his fans loved it.

Even his split from Genesis in 1996 boosted his career rather than hindered it, and in 1999 he was immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Collins has regularly managed to go back to his roots as an actor, taking on a small role in "Miami Vice" as well as in the Hollywood blockbuster "Hook."

Despite his talent for acting, his biggest film success didn't come onscreen, instead with his soundtrack to the Disney film "Tarzan" in 2000. The single "You'll Be in My Heart" garnered an Oscar.

Just a few years later, perhaps plagued by health problems, he announced a farewell tour. But in typical Phil Collins fashion, he added a healthy dash of irony, titling it the "First Final Farewell Tour."

The phases of farewell

No sooner had Genesis fans finally come to grips with the fact that the band was over than they announced a reunion in 2007. Four decades after the band was founded, Genesis' Michael Rutherford and Tony Banks joined Collins for a world tour.

In 2011, Phil Collins ended his musical career - but now, in honor of his 65th birthday, a retrospective album is in the works. Rumor has it that it may be accompanied by one more final tour.

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