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Phil Collins, singer and drummer is quitting

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    Jeff in Kentucky

    Why Phil Collins is calling it quits
    March 5, 2011

    from a longer article by Erik Hedegaard

    In a rehearsal hall somewhere in Switzerland, Phil Collins is belting out some tunes in front of an 18-piece band, getting ready to go on a small tour to support a new album. He’s not playing the drums, and not a song of his own passes his lips. There’s no “In the Air Tonight,” no “Sussudio,” no “One More Night,” nothing from his Genesis days.

    He’s 60 and looks pretty much the way he’s always looked: kind of small, kind of bald.
    As a solo artist, he has sold 150 million records, which puts him right up there with the all-time greats. Medically, he’s got a few serious and life-altering problems: The hearing in his left ear is shot, and a dislocated vertebra in his neck has rendered him unable to pound on the drums that first made him famous.

    Mainly, he’s had it with people thinking they know who Phil Collins is. And not in a good way. He has been called “the Antichrist,” the sellout who took Peter Gabriel’s Genesis, that paragon of prog-rock, and turned it into a lame-o pop act and went on to make all those supercheesy hits that defined the 1980s.

    Now, he’d rather spend his time in his basement, building up his collection of Alamo memorabilia, which, oddly enough, is his great consuming passion these days.

    He released four solo albums during the 1980s and had 13 hit singles. As Genesis’ lead singer and songwriter after Peter Gabriel quit, he was largely responsible for that band’s output too, which reached a high point in 1986, with Invisible Touch and its five hit singles.

    His song “In the Air Tonight” became the unofficial theme song for the ’80s drugs-guns-and-glamour cop show “Miami Vice;” and was used to hawk Michelob beer; and was prominently featured in “Risky Business” 26 years before Mike Tyson air-drummed new life into the song in “The Hangover.”

    On the Internet, I Hate Phil Collins sites have flourished. He gets criticized for everything. For his hair, for his height, for his pants (pleated khakis), for his shirts (tucks them in), for being “a shameless, smirking show hog.”

    “I don’t understand it,” he says, looking pained. “I’ve become a target for no apparent reason. I only make the records once; it’s the radio that plays them all the time. I mean, the Antichrist? But it’s too late. The die is cast as to what I am.”

    So now he lives in a small Swiss town near Lake Geneva — not in any kind of self-imposed exile, he says, but because his third wife (now his third ex-wife) lived there, and that’s where they are raising their two young boys, ages five and seven.

    Due to his neck injury, his hands can no longer hold the drum sticks. Worse, to him, he can’t help his youngest kids build toys. He can’t write his name with a pen. He has trouble wiping himself. It sounds terrible, and it is, but since it only affects his ability to grip objects, you’d never know it to look at him. There’s nothing frail about him, and a recent surgery may even improve his condition.

    He was never a big drinker, never a big dope smoker, has never taken LSD. But there does seem to be some serious darkness in him as well. He has spent time imagining battle scenes at the Alamo. “At one point, the Mexicans were killing each other. It was dark, and you killed anything that moved. And then when they attacked the last line of defense, it was hand-to-hand fighting and they went around decapitating all the bodies and making sure they were dead. ‘What must that have been like?’ I think.”

    “Everything has added up to a load that I’m getting tired of carrying,” he continues. “It’s gotten so complicated. It’s the three failed marriages, and having kids that grew up without me, and it’s the personal criticism, of being Mr. Nice Guy, or of divorcing my wife by fax, all that stuff, the journalism, some of which I find insulting. I wouldn’t say that I have suicidal tendencies over my career or bad press. They’re just another chink in the wall. It’s cumulative. You can say, ‘Grow up, man, everybody gets criticism.’ I know that. And I’ve philosophically adjusted to it. But does that make it any more pleasurable? No.” And that’s the trouble with wishing you were somebody else. As much as you may want it, you know it’ll never happen, at least not in this lifetime.”

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