Phil Collins is the first to admit that he wasn't a very good husband and father in the 1970s. Genesis released an album almost every year and they toured heavily behind every one of them. During the few breaks, Phil Collins toured with the jazz fusion band Brand X. It couldn't have been a huge shock when his wife left him, but the pain was nearly unbearable; she took both kids and even the dogs.
Genesis were in a rare period of downtime, so Phil went into his basement and poured all his heartache into a series of demos he cut with a drum machine. "I didn't see it as making a record," Collins said later. "It wasn't cathartic, but it was obviously therapeutic." The songs became the backbone of Face Value, Collins' debut solo album. Despair is evident on every song, particularly the gut-wrenching "The Roof Is Leaking." It's a sparse track, totally unlike anything the songwriter had done in his decade with Genesis. Few people could have imagined this material would kick-start one of the most successful pop careers of the decade.