As ever on holiday, I read a lot. And I read books that you might think I wouldn’t be reading. Last year, I read Rod Stewart’s autobiography. I wouldn’t go to a Rod gig if he was playing in my back garden but his story was fascinating. This year it was Phil Collins.
I do not own a single record by Collins. I don’t like any of his solo stuff, I liked some Genesis stuff, mainly from when Peter Gabriel was lead singer. But his story fascinated me. He was a world class drummer and plainly had a story to tell.
At least the false stories have been corrected. Collins went to Switzerland to become a tax dodger. No, he didn’t. He left to escape the vile British red tops in general and the odious Piers Morgan in particular. And how on earth could a multimillionaire write a song about the homeless? Collins did.
Billy Bragg nailed it when he wrote of ‘Another Day in Paradsise: “Phil Collins might write a song about the homeless, but if he doesn’t have the action to go with it he’s just exploiting that for a subject.” That’s Collins told. Except that we learn that Collins did have “the action to go with it”.
In fact, his subsequent tour including 169 dates, at each one, local homeless organisations made collections which Collins personally matched at every show. Now, I didn’t know that and perhaps you are not as impressed as I was but I’d like to think he put Bragg back in his box.
One thing is for sure: Phil Collins is a far better person than I gave him credit for and far more grounded than most multimillionaires.
I won’t be going out to buy Face Value or any other Phil Collins records but I’ll look at his career rather differently now.