Phil Collins Biography

Phil Collins photo

Born: January 30, 1951


Date of Birth: January 30, 1951

Phil Collins has worn several hats in the entertainment world, dating back to his earliest days as a stage actor and model. While he is best known for his successful solo music career and his time spent in the internationally acclaimed band Genesis, this native of Chiswick, England has also acted in movies and TV series, and contributed memorable music for the big screen.

Collins attended stage school in his youth, and before forming his first band he was in London's West End portraying the Artful Dodger in a stage production of the musical Oliver! He also appeared in the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day's Night in a non-speaking role. Music began to demand more of his time and he played with a succession of bands including Freehold and Flaming Youth. It wasn't until Collins auditioned for and won the job as drummer in the young band Genesis that things really started to click. Keyboardist Tony Banks called Phil "by far the best musician in the band."

In a very short period Genesis became one of the leaders of Britain's progressive rock movement, and developed a reputation for their complex arrangements and theatrical live performances. Phil was key in developing their sound, and when singer Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975, Collins scuppered the media's predictions that the band was doomed, by stepping up to become the singer and chief songwriter.

Over the next decade Genesis eventually toned down their elaborate sound and were rewarded with a steady string of hit singles that raised Collins' profile as a talented writer alongside the existing praise for his obvious playing chops and distinctive voice. Phil also recorded a series of solo albums beginning in 1981, and songs like "In The Air Tonight", the Grammy-winning "Against All Odds" (from the steamy film of the same name), his jaunty cover of The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love", "One More Night" and "Sussudio" made him a staple on radio around the world.

Collins had the distinction of being the only musician to appear at both the massive UK and US Live Aid concerts for Ethiopian famine relief. On July 13, 1985, he performed solo at Wembley Stadium in London, then hopped on the Concorde and hit the stage in Philadelphia later the same day -- a true testament to his popularity.

Phil's song "Separate Lives" -- a duet with singer Marilyn Martin -- was the theme song to the 1985 film White Nights, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines. After "In The Air Tonight" was used in an episode of the red-hot US TV police drama Miami Vice, Collins made a guest appearance on the series as a game show host. Between this and the advent of the music video, the acting bug had well and truly bitten the Artful Dodger once more.

Time away from Genesis and his solo work Collins to become involved in his other passion again. He played the lead in the 1988 film Buster, about a small-time thief who pulls a big-time job and must deal with the consequences. He also had a role in rock band The Who's televised performance of their rock opera Tommy. Collins next appeared as a police inspector in Hook, Steven Spielberg's retelling of the Peter Pan story.

The mid-1990s saw Collins appear in small-budget films like Frauds and Calliope. He also appeared as himself on the TV series New York Undercover and had a role in the made-for-TV movie And The Band Played On, about the discovery and outbreak of AIDS among America's homosexual population. He provided the voices for two characters in the animated film Balto (1995), which was a sign of things to come.

In 1996 Collins stunned many fans by announcing his departure from Genesis after 26 years. After several years of focusing on his solo career, he was asked to compose the songs for Disney's 1999 animated feature Tarzan. He also collaborated on the score with Mark Mancina. The song "You'll Be In My Heart" won the Best Original Song Academy Award, a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe.

Collins continued his successful affiliation with Disney, voicing the character Lucky the Vulture in The Jungle Book 2 (2003), then went on to write all the music for Disney's film Brother Bear. Phil also sings most of the tunes himself (one notable exception is a song he wrote for Tina Turner to perform) and collaborated with Mark Mancina again on the score. He is continuing to work with Disney on upcoming projects.

Filmography (actor):

The Jungle Book 2 (2003) (voice)
Balto (1995) (voice)
Calliope (1994)
Frauds (1993)
Hook (1991)
Buster (1988)
Calamity the Cow (1967)
A Hard Day's Night (1964) (uncredited)

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