Phenomenally successful artist Phil Collins, known for his unparalleled record sales, has bid a heartfelt farewell to his legion of fans around the world. In an emotional final concert at London’s O2 arena, Collins jokingly remarked that he would now have to find “a real job.”
Amid ongoing health issues, Collins bowed out from four decades of performing at his last-ever show, where he was joined on stage by his Genesis bandmates, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. The band reunited for their long-awaited ‘The Last Domino?’ Tour, which was initially postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This tour marked Collins’ return to the stage after a 14-year performance hiatus.
After the show, a noticeably frail Collins stood with his bandmates, humorously telling the crowd, “After tonight, we’ll all have to get real jobs.” Despite his resilient spirit, the musician has faced numerous health challenges. In 2009, Collins underwent surgery to repair dislocated vertebrae in his upper neck, an injury sustained while drumming during the 2007 Genesis tour. As a result, he lost feeling in his fingers and could only hold drumsticks if they were taped to his hands. Since 2015, he has relied on a cane for assistance. These health struggles led to periods of depression and a diminished sense of self-worth.
In a candid interview on the BBC Breakfast Show, the legendary musician hinted that this might indeed be his final tour. Collins shared, “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 expressed uncertainty about his future on the road, stating, “We’re all men of our age, and I think to some extent, I think it probably is putting it to bed. I think yeah, I think just generally for me, I don’t know if I want to go out on the road anymore.”
From Child Actor to Musical Icon
It’s remarkable to consider that Collins began his entertainment career as a child actor, landing his first major role at a young age. Portraying the character of the Artful Dodger in the West End musical Oliver!, he showcased his talents on stage. Six years later, in 1970, Collins joined the band Genesis as their drummer, later assuming the role of lead vocalist in 1975 following Peter Gabriel’s departure.
At 19 years old, Collins responded to an advertisement in the newspaper seeking a drummer for the band. With his exceptional skills, Genesis soared to new heights, releasing five studio albums and embarking on successful tours across the United States. When lead vocalist Peter Gabriel left the band, Collins auditioned alongside 400 other candidates for the role. Ultimately, he proved to be the perfect fit. Reflecting on the transition from drummer to frontman, Collins admitted feeling exposed without his drum kit but gradually found his stride, saying: “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.”
A Trailblazer in the 80s
In the 1980s, Collins ventured into a successful solo career and became one of the most renowned pop singers of the decade. He made headlines by performing at two back-to-back fundraising shows for Africa, raising over $150 million for famine relief. Collins wowed audiences at the Live Aid concert in London’s Wembley Stadium before swiftly flying to Philadelphia on Concorde to perform at another benefit show just hours later.
Collins also dabbled in acting, making appearances in the popular TV series Miami Vice and even starring as the lead in the movie Buster, which revolved around the Great Train Robbery. The film’s soundtrack featured two of Collins’ singles, both of which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Despite his extraordinary achievements, Collins, now 71 years old, performed his final show while seated due to his health conditions. In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, he revealed that he no longer practices singing at home, relying solely on rehearsals to fine-tune his craft. Collins acknowledged the changes his health has brought, but he also emphasized the enduring connection between him and his audience. “It’s not the way I would have written it, but it’s the way that it is,” he concluded.
Phil Collins will forever remain a legend, treasured for his immense body of work spanning several decades. Whether he can tour or not, his fans will continue to hold his music close to their hearts. We wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on this new chapter of his life.