Having sold more than 250 million albums in his career, Phil Collins -- one of the best-selling artists of all time -- is making a comeback after a self-imposed retirement, taking his impressive catalog of classic hits on the road for his first tour in nearly 10 years.
Collins has been playing drums almost all his life. But being a pop star, he says, was never on his radar. “When I was 12 I bought a proper drum kit, and that was going to be my life,” he said.
That all changed when he went from drummer to frontman of the band Genesis. The band reached new heights. But Collins became even bigger after going solo in 1981. A run of Top 10 hits turned the British singer into a global sensation.
But with staggering success came overexposure, and Collins somehow became both one of the most loved and most loathed artists of his time.
In a 1998 appearance on PBS’ “Charlie Rose,” Collins was asked if he cared about critics.
“Well, I’m getting better. I’m getting better at it,” he replied. “Better at realizing the man on the-street, if he is touched by what I do, then that is what is most important.”
All these years later, the backlash has subsided, and what’s left is an undeniable music legacy.
Now, he’s opening up in a revealing new memoir. “Not Dead Yet” (Crown Archetype) chronicles the highs and lows of his decades in the music industry, and the songs that helped to define an era.
The book’s title, said CBSN’s Josh Elliott, “is grim, but factually accurate. So what went into the title?”
Collins noted that a lot has been made about his health in certain circles, but it’s also a reflection of his black humor. “English humor is an acquired thing,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “But also, I think to me it implies that there is more to come. And hopefully there will be!”
And how is his health? “I’m okay! I had back surgery last year, left me with a numb foot; that’s why I’ve got a stick. Otherwise, I’m in good shape.”
He said his retirement several years ago was to concentrate on his young sons.
“I kind of felt like I had to jam on the brakes and say I’m stopping,” he said. “They are older now, but I have two young boys -- Matthew is 11 now and Nick is 15 -- and I wanted to be at home to be a dad, you know? I’ve never been able to do that for one reason or another. My career, obviously, got in the way, I guess. Stuff happens along the way. And I really wanted to be a dad. So I retired to concentrate on that.
“There is a Spinal Tap attitude if you’re in a band sometimes, especially if you’re starting,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we can do this, yeah, yeah.’ What about the families? And in most instances, families traveled with us. But when children start going to school, then it starts to get a little bit more difficult because someone has to stay at home. [And] I was the breadwinner.”
Collins writes about that concern in his book:
“I carry guilt over each of my kids all the time I was away. Music made me, but also it un-made me.”
Co-anchor Norah O’Donnell asked if Collins still felt that guilt.
“I still feel,” he replied. “Every time I take Matthew to soccer practice, I kind of am tinged with this guilt that I wasn’t able to do that with Simon.”
Album sales of 250 million show how popular Collins was. Co-anchor Charlie Rose asked, “I don’t quite understand why they didn’t like you. Did they simply grow weary of you?”
“I don’t think it was so much fans,” Collins said. “I think it was, I was everywhere, all the time. One of the things I found out while I was doing the book was the length of the tours: Six month tour, three weeks at home, and then another five-month tour. Some tours were 13 months. Sometimes the family can come out and sometimes they can’t. So I think I was always there, and you couldn’t get away from me. Meanwhile, I was just doing things. Produce Eric Clapton? Sure, no problem! Robert Plant? Sure, I’ll do that. I felt Mister Incredible: ‘I got time for that.’
“But I think the records were played so much -- and they were the same records, you know? ‘Sussudio,’ ‘One More Night,’ ‘Against All Odds,’ the list goes on. And that is what critics and what some people kept hearing and, you know, ‘Give us a break!’”
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