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Phil Collins

Biography

Phil Collins
James/Getty

Throughout his three-decade-long solo career, in which he's been both hailed as a pop genius, singer, songwriter, and drummer Phil Collins has been an admirably prolific hit-maker, recording more than a half-dozen Number One singles achieving international fame and fortune along the way.

Collins' first solo album, Face Value (Number Seven, 1981) was released just a few months before his former band Genesis' Abacab, and while both albums share a slick, airplay-intended production style, it was Collins who landed the bigger radio hit: "In The Air Tonight" (Number Two, Mainstream Rock, 1981), a brooding ballad with a unnatural-sounding drum break. Value would sell more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone, thanks to "Air" and its follow-up, "I Missed Again" (Number 19, 1981).

The next year, Collins followed up with Hello, I Must Be Going! (Number Eight, 1982), which is highlighted by a tumbling drum solo on "I Don't Care Anymore" (Number 39, 1983) and lowlighted by a honkified cover of the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" (Number Ten, 1982).

After Hello, Collins took time from his solo career to work on Genesis' Genesis album, but returned in 1984 with two Top 5 hits: "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Number One), a massive break-up ballad later covered by Mariah Carey and the Postal Service, and "Easy Lover" (Number Two), a duet with Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey.

In January of 1985, Collins released No Jacket Required, the best-selling album of his career, with four hit singles: "One More Night" (Number One), "Don't Lose My Number" (Number Four), "Take Me Home" (Number Seven), and the arguably funky "Sussudio" (Number One). That summer, Collins performed at both Live Aid ceremonies, flying from London to Philadelphia in a Concorde jet. At the end of the year, he had yet another Number One hit in "Separate Lives," a duet with Marilyn Martin.

In 1988, Collins, who had appeared briefly in A Hard Day's Night, returned to acting in the British comedy Buster. The film flopped in the U.S., but the soundtrack yielded two more chart-conquering songs: A cover of the Mindbenders' "A Groovy Kind Of Love" and the Motown-inspired "Two Hearts," which was co-written with Lamont Dozier.

Collins' next album, …But Seriously (Number 1, 1989) was an overwrought attempt at social commentary, but neither Grammy voters or listeners seemed to mind much: The subtlety-free homelessness lament "Another Day In Paradise" (Number One, 1989) won Record of the Year and garnered constant airplay for what seemed like three years straight. An even weepier follow-up, "I Wish It Would Rain Down" (Number Three, 1990) featured a guitar solo from fellow adult-contemporary stalwart Eric Clapton. A live album, Serious Hits…Live! (Number 11, 1991) followed.

The 1990s and 2000s saw Collins' solo-career commercial appeal waning, at least when it came to new material. Each one of his three studio album—Both Sides (Number 13, 1993), Dance Into The Light (Number 23, 1996) and Testify (Number 30, 2002)—sold fewer copies than its predecessor, though a 1998 best-of, Hits (Number 18), served as a reminder of past glories. In 1999, Disney hired Collins to compose music for its animated Tarzan remake, resulting in "You'll Be In My Heart" (Number 21). The song was woefully treacle, even by Collins' standards, but it won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Meanwhile, Collins' radio staples had endured long enough to earn a following among younger musicians, especially R&B and hip-hop performers: Kayne West is an admitted fan, and 2003 saw the release of Urban Renewal, an R&B tribute featuring such artists as Kelis and Lil' Kim. A film about Collins 2004 farewell to the 30-years of constant touring called "The Long Goodbye" came out in 2007. That same year Collins reunited with Genesis, without Peter Gabriel, for their worldwide "Turn It On Again" reunion tour.

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