Born Philip David Charles Collins on January 30, 1951, in London, England, to parents Greville Collins, an insurance agent, and his wife June, a talent manager. From an early age, Phil showed a preference for the stage and music. His love for the drums began at the age of 5, when he was given a toy drum kit.
By the age of 12, Collins had a real set of drums and played every chance he could get. His professional training began at the age of 14, when he entered the Barbara Speake Stage School, a fee-paying but non-selective independent school in London run by his mother.
In 1975, Collins became the face of Genesis when Gabriel left the band to embark on a solo career. The group had auditioned some 400 singers to replace their front man, before turning inward and handing the baton to Collins.
In 1981 he hit the airwaves with his first solo record, Face Value. The album, backed by the popular single “In the Air Tonight,” proved to be a monster hit. In 1984 he penned the title song for the film soundtrack to Against All Odds, a No. 1 single that scored Collins Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song.
Collins was listed at number 22 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time”. Collins is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band.
Collins made his live debut as a solo performer appearing at the invitation of record producer Martin Lewis at the Amnesty International benefit show, The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball at the Theatre Royal in London in September 1981, performing two songs from Face Value including “In the Air Tonight” and “The Roof is Leaking” accompanying himself on piano.
In 1989, Collins produced another successful album, But Seriously, featuring the anti-homelessness anthem “Another Day in Paradise”, with David Crosby on backing vocals. (Collins later went on to co-write, sing and play on the song “Hero” on Crosby’s 1993 album Thousand Roads.)
“Another Day in Paradise” went to Number 1 on the Billboard Charts at the end of 1989, won Collins Best British Single at the Brit Awards in 1990, and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1991; it was also one of the most successful singles of all time in Germany.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On 4 March 2011, citing health problems and other concerns, Collins announced that he was taking time off from his career, prompting widespread reports of his retirement.
Collins was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 wealthiest people in the British music industry.