Phil Collins, Not Dead Yet The Memoir (Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016)
Few people in the music industry have reached the same pinnacle of success that Phil Collins has achieved. Even fewer have sold over 100 million albums as both a member of a band and as a solo artist. This is a man who “fought in the prog wars,” hobnobbed with Queen Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela, and who wrote and sang hit tunes for a best-selling Disney movie, for which he happened to also win an Oscar. Seemingly, the man has everything, yet this is merely the public “Phil Collins.” Philip Collins is a much more complicated man, and life isn’t as easy as he made it look over his long career.
If I were to describe this excellent memoir in one word, it would be “honest.” Two words – “brutally honest.” Collins holds little back. He invites us to come in and look at his struggles, hopefully understanding more about him and his music as we do. What stands out the most, however, is how down-to-earth he is. Unlike Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford, Collins was not raised in a ritzy upper middle-class British school. Instead, he was raised in a sturdy working-class family at the “end of the line” outside of London. Indeed, as a child he lived just far enough away from anything exciting as to make it a big effort to get anywhere. This didn’t stop young master Collins, however. Many of his formative teenage years were spent milling about in music clubs in Soho, where he saw bands such as Cream, the Yardbirds, The Who, and Yes (who would later offer him a job as drummer). He was even present the first night Led Zeppelin ever played a live show. Did I mention he was in the crowd for the Beatles A Hard Day’s Night. Yeah, he got around.