Phil Collins is on a limited swing through the States—he’s stopping in only 15 cities—and he will be at Tampa’s Amelie Arena for a concert loaded with singalong hits from his four-decade career. Phil Collins: Still Not Dead Yet, Live! is the sequel to his sold-out 2018 tour Phil Collins: Not Dead Yet. The Tampa show will feature an eight-member outfit, stellar backup vocalists, and Phil’s son Nicolas on drums. Memory Lane may become a bit of a crowded path that night as concertgoers relive Collins’ golden decade of the 1980s.
By RANDAL C. HILL
Young Phil Collins was always a bit precocious. He once entered a talent contest, belting out The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Halfway through his performance, he abruptly stopped the orchestra to tell them they were in the wrong key.
Collins was five years old at the time.
Philip David Charles Collins was born on Jan. 30, 1951, in London, one of two sons born to an insurance agent father and a theatrical agent mother. When he was 5, Collins’ parents gave him a toy drum kit as a Christmas gift. As Collins grew older, the left-hander graduated to more complex sets.
He never learned to read or write conventional musical notation, instead using a system he designed himself. He later expressed regrets: “I never really came to grips with the music. I should have stuck with it. I’ve always felt that if I could hum it, I could play it. For me, that was good enough, but that attitude is bad.”
While a student at the Barbara Speake Stage School, one of the longest-running stage schools in the world, Collins earned a blink-and-you’ll-miss role in the Beatles’ 1964 film, A Hard Day’s Night, in which he played a schoolboy in a mob of shrieking adolescents. This was followed by a meatier role as the Artful Dodger in the London stage production of Oliver!
Collins enjoyed acting but found it hard to resist the siren call of musical stardom. At age 18, he joined Flaming Youth, a band who recorded an album called Ark 2. Despite earning favorable reviews, the 1969 work died a quiet death in the British music store record racks.
In mid-1970, the hit making, soft-rock band Genesis advertised for “a drummer sensitive to acoustic music.” Not only did Collins land the role of drummer, but he was soon the band’s primary vocalist.
He went solo in 1980 and released In the Air Tonight as the first single from his debut album Face Value. After that, there was no holding him back. He became the hit maker of the era, selling 100 million records, including an armload of multi-platinum albums and more Top 40 singles than any other singer from that decade.
In 1985, the bi-continental Live Aid charity show, dubbed the “global jutebox,” was established for Ethiopian famine relief. That weekend, Collins became the concert’s MVP, performing at London’s Wembley Stadium, then jetting to Philadelphia aboard a Concorde SST to drum for George Harrison and a reunited Led Zeppelin at the John F. Kennedy Stadium.
Collins has been through quite a bit during his 68 years on the planet. He has been married and divorced three times and has sired five children. Along the way, he has endured some troubling physical issues, including hearing loss in his left ear and a dislocated neck vertebra. Problems with his hands ended his drum-playing abilities; a 2015 back operation left him with drop foot.
Then there has been the alcohol issue. “I almost drank myself to death,” Collins has said in past interviews. “I was getting up in the morning and having a couple of drinks.” (He often swigged vodka straight from the bottle.) After years of battling booze, he became a teetotaler in 2105. More recently, though, he claims he is not alcoholic and can enjoy “a couple of glasses of wine” without going overboard.
Eight of Collins’ songs hit the peak of the Billboard singles chart during his golden decade. At the Amelie, you can count on hearing most (if not all) of his timeless million-sellers such as Against All Odds (Take A Look at Me Now), One More Night, Sussudio, Separate Lives, Two Hearts and Groovy Kind of Love.
On the night of his concert, some audience members will undoubtedly be “air drumming,”
dancing in their seats, and otherwise enjoying another day in paradise.
IF YOU GO:
Phil Collins: Still Not Dead Yet, Live!
Sept. 26, 8 p.m.
Tampa’s Amelie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr.
Amelie Arena Ticket Office, amaliearena.com,