Only superstars Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson can rival Phil Collins as one of the most popular musicians of all time in terms of record sales.
But now that he has said goodbye to them in an emotional final show where he made the joke that he would now need to find “a real job,” his legions of followers all around the world are left inconsolable.
He announced his retirement from music after 40 years of performing at his final gig at London’s O2, when he was joined on stage by Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks from the band Genesis.
The group had come back together for their ‘The Last Domino?’ Tour, which had been cancelled because of COVID-19. After a 14-year break from live performances, the last tour was launched.
After the performance, a visibly weakened Collins stood with his fellow musicians and made a jest to the audience, saying, “After tonight, we’ll all have to get real jobs.”
Collins underwent surgery in April 2009 to fix displaced vertebrae in his upper neck that occurred while he was playing drums on the 2007 Genesis tour.
He was unable to feel his fingers after the surgery and could only hold drumsticks if they were strapped to his hands. Since 2015, he has been using a cane.
He felt unhappy and low on self-worth as a result of his health concerns. His son Nicholas Collins will take care of the drums after he acknowledged last September that he could hardly grip a drumstick.
The renowned musician made a suggestion that this might be his final tour while speaking on the BBC Breakfast Show.
“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 said, adding that it might be the last time he will ever be on tour.
Collins remarked, “We’re all men our age, and I think in some ways, I believe that probably is putting it to bed. I’m not sure if I want to travel anymore, simply generally speaking.
“I think yeah.”It’s difficult to believe Collins began acting as a child actor before landing his first significant part as the Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver because of his musical talent.Six years later, in 1970, he became the drummer for Genesis.
After Peter Gabriel left the group in 1975, he took over as lead singer. At 19 years old Collins responded to an ad in the paper from the band which was looking for a drummer.
The band continued to grow after he got his new job, releasing five studio albums and touring the US. Following the departure of lead singer Peter Gabriel, the band held 400 auditions before selecting Collins.
“I felt exposed. I’d lived all my life behind the security blanket of a drum kit, and suddenly there was nothing except a microphone stand,” Phil Collins told LouderSound of the moment he became the band’s lead singer.
“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. We had people down every Monday [auditioning], five or six people, and I would teach them what they had to do. We were writing A Trick Of The Tail and I would teach them some old songs – Firth Of Fifth or whatever – and I ended up sounding better than anyone else,” he added.
“And this [Genesis] was kind of a family. ‘Do we want this person in our family? Will he fit in with the way we do things?’ Anyway, we didn’t find anybody and ended up with me.”
He went solo in the 1980s and rose to prominence as one of pop music’s most popular artists during that time. After appearing at two fundraising events for Africa within a few hours of one another, he made headlines.
Collins played at a Live Aid concert that earned more over $150 million for famine assistance in African countries. The concert was held at Wembley Stadium. Then, he boarded a Concorde and took off for Philadelphia, where he arrived a few hours later to perform for the cause.
He did make a comeback to acting, making an appearance in Miami Vice before starring in the film Buster about the Great Train Robbery. Collins contributed two singles to the album’s soundtrack that peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles list.
The 71-year-old acknowledged last year that he doesn’t practice at home; he gave his final performance while seated.
“I don’t do anything at all. I don’t practice singing at home, not at all. Rehearsing is the practice,”
“These guys are always having a go at me for not, but I have to do it this way. Of course, my health does change things, doing the show seated changes things. But I actually found on my recent solo tours, it didn’t get in the way; the audience were still listening and responding. It’s not the way I would have written it, but it’s the way that it is,” he continued.
Regardless of whether he can travel or not, this legend will always be adored for the enormous amount of work he has done over the years. We wish him the best.