Phil Collins was near the pinnacle of his fame when he released “Don’t Lose My Number” as the third single from his 1985 LP No Jacket Required. Over the course of the past year, he’d landed huge hits with “Against All Odds,” “Easy Lover,” “Sussudio” and “One More Night,” and that’s not mentioning his work with Genesis, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant or Band Aid. A couple months later he’d play Live Aid in Philadelphia and London on the same day, and the next year Genesis would sell out stadiums worldwide and score hit after hit with Invisible Touch. It was Phil’s world. The rest of us were just living in it.
VH1 hit the airwaves just six weeks after No Jacket Required came out. It’s purpose was to air videos aimed at a slightly older demographic than MTV. Phil Collins was basically their patron saint. They played his videos nonstop, so it made sense that the “Don’t Lose My Number” video would show him spoofing other videos of the era, including the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” the Cars’ “You Might Think” and David Lee Roth’s “California Girls.” They also throw him into Mad Max and generic Western and samurai movies.
If that creates a video without any sort of coherent storyline other than Collins trying to decide between various video treatments, there’s a good reason. Much like “In the Air Tonight,” Collins has no idea what “Don’t Lose My Number” is about. The lyrics came to him spontaneously in the studio and don’t really mean anything, though it’s clear our hero Billy is being pursued by nefarious people and is in quite a bit of danger. Maybe he can call up Rikki from Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and together they can figure out what the hell is going on.