Phil Collins is one of the most successful artists of all time, only rivaled by big hitters Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson for the number of records sold.
But now his legion of fans around the world have been left heartbroken after he bid farewell to them in an emotional final concert where he joked that now he would need to find “a real job.”
Amid ongoing health issues, he bowed out from four decades of performing at his final show ever at London’s O2 where he was joined on stage by his Genesis bandmates Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks.
The band had reunited for their ‘The Last Domino?’ Tour, which had been postponed due to COVID-19. The final tour came after a 14-year live performance hiatus.
Following the show, a noticeably frail Collins stood with his bandmates and joked to the crowd, “After tonight we’ll all have to get real jobs.”
In April 2009, Collins had surgery to repair dislocated vertebrae in his upper neck, which happened while drumming on the 2007 Genesis tour.
Following the operation, he lost feeling in his fingers and could only grip drumsticks if they were taped to his hands. He’s been using a cane since 2015. His health issues led him to feel depressed and have low self-worth. Last September he admitted that he could barely hold a drumstick and that his son Nicholas Collins will take care of the drums.
Speaking on the BBC Breakfast Show, the legendary musician hinted that it may be his last tour.
“I’d love to but you know, I mean, I can barely hold a stick with this hand. So there are certain physical things that get in the way,” he said, adding that it might be the last time he will ever be on tour.
“We’re all men of our age, and I think to some extent, I think it probably is putting it to bed,” Collins said. “I think yeah, I think just generally for me, I don’t know if I want to go out on the road anymore.”
His musical talent makes it hard to believe that Collins started out as a child actor securing his first major role-playing the Artful Dodger in the West End musical Oliver!
Six years later he joined the band Genesis, in 1970, as their drummer and became the lead singer in 1975 following the departure of Peter Gabriel.
At 19 years old Collins responded to an ad in the paper from the band which was looking for a drummer.
After securing his new job the band went from strength to strength, releasing five studio albums and touring the US. After lead singer Peter Gabriel left, the band auditioned for 400 replacements with Collins getting it in the end.
“I felt exposed. I’d lived all my life behind the security blanket of a drum kit, and suddenly there was nothing except a microphone stand,” Phil Collins told LouderSound of the moment he became the band’s lead singer.
“And the band sounds different from out front. You hear a different kind of balance out front, and it isn’t comfortable. And I didn’t want the job, frankly.
“I wanted to stay the drummer. We had people down every Monday [auditioning], five or six people, and I would teach them what they had to do. We were writing A Trick Of The Tail and I would teach them some old songs – Firth Of Fifth or whatever – and I ended up sounding better than anyone else,” he added.
“And this [Genesis] was kind of a family. ‘Do we want this person in our family? Will he fit in with the way we do things?’ Anyway, we didn’t find anybody and ended up with me.”
He went solo in the 80s and became one of the most successful pop singers of that decade. He hit the headlines after performing at the two fundraising shows for Africa within hours of each other.
Live Aid raised more than $150 million for famine relief for African nations organizing one show at Wembley Stadium where Collins performed at. He then hopped on Concorde and flew to Philadelphia where he performed for the benefit a few hours later.
He did return to acting appearing in Miami Vice and then starring in the movie Buster in which he played the lead role in the Great Train Robbery. The soundtrack featured two singles from Collins which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
The 71-year-old, who performed his final show sitting down, admitted last year that he doesn’t practice at home.
“I don’t do anything at all. I don’t practice singing at home, not at all. Rehearsing is the practice,” Collins told the Guardian in September.
“These guys are always having a go at me for not, but I have to do it this way. Of course, my health does change things, doing the show seated changes things. But I actually found on my recent solo tours, it didn’t get in the way; the audience was still listening and responding. It’s not the way I would have written it, but it’s the way that it is,” he continued.
Such a legend who will forever be loved for his mountain of work over the decades, whether he can tour or not. We wish him well.