Phil Collins stands as an enduring icon in both rock and pop music. Since 1967, he has been the rhythmic force behind the progressive rock band Genesis. Following Peter Gabriel’s departure, Collins assumed the role of the group’s vocalist, contributing significantly to their continued success. Throughout the 80s and beyond, Genesis became one of the best-selling bands globally, amassing over 100 million records sold.
In 1981, Collins embarked on a solo career with the release of “Face Value,” featuring the iconic single ‘In The Air Tonight.’ This marked the drummer’s unexpected transformation into a colossal pop star. Despite his solo success, Collins rejoined Genesis, contributing to their discography until 1997 with “Calling All Stations.” The trio, alongside Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, sustained their musical journey through extensive touring.
However, on March 26, 2022, the band concluded their live performances with a farewell concert at London’s O2 Arena. Collins, facing health challenges that had persisted for years, could no longer endure the demands of global touring, performing from a seated position due to his inability to walk. His declining health led to a heartbreaking decision – Collins would never again grace the stage, leaving fans worldwide in disappointment.
This marks the unfortunate end of an era, as Phil Collins’ health struggles prompted his retirement, ultimately signaling the conclusion of Genesis’ remarkable musical journey.
What ailment is affecting Phil Collins?
Phil Collins has been grappling with a spinal injury since 2007, stemming from an incident during the Genesis reunion tour that year. To address the issue, he underwent surgeries in 2009 and 2016 aimed at healing a dislocated vertebrae in his spine. Unfortunately, these interventions resulted in nerve damage, rendering him “more immobile” than before, as reported by his bandmate Rutherford.
How did Phil Collins’ health challenges begin?
The genesis of Phil Collins‘ health issues can be traced back to Genesis’ 2007 ‘Turn It On Again’ concert tour of Europe and North America. This tour, marking the group’s return after nearly a decade, witnessed Collins engaging in a drumming duel with the band’s session drummer, Chester Thompson, towards the end of each show. In 2016, during a press conference, Collins disclosed that he sensed his neck giving way during one of these duels. Despite various attempts, including experimenting with larger drumsticks, the ability he once possessed never returned. The exact nature of what transpired during that pivotal moment on the Genesis reunion tour remains a perplexing mystery.
When did the impact on his career become evident?
The repercussions of Phil Collins’ spinal injury became glaringly apparent when he made the difficult decision to retire from live drumming. Following his initial surgery in 2009, he disclosed the severity of the situation, expressing the inability to hold drumsticks without experiencing excruciating pain.
“After playing drums for 50 years, I’ve had to stop. My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in.”
“This comes from years of playing. I can’t even hold the sticks properly without it being painful; I even used to tape the sticks to my hands to get through.”
Despite the adversity, Collins offered a reassuring note to fans of both himself and Genesis, emphasizing, “Don’t worry, I can still sing.”
In a subsequent interview with Rolling Stone magazine a year later, Collins appeared content with the evolution of Genesis, stating, “I was going to stop drumming anyway. I had stopped. I don’t miss it.”
After a second surgery in 2016, which significantly improved his health, he felt fit enough to embark on the ‘Not Dead Yet’ global tour in the following year. Handing over drumming responsibilities to his son Nicholas for the tour, the younger Collins later stepped into his father’s shoes for Genesis’ 2021 final tour, ‘The Last Domino?’.
“It’s not because he’s the boss’s son that he’s playing the drums; it’s because he’s good enough,” Phil mentioned on The Project at the time, highlighting Nicholas’s drumming proficiency since childhood. The band embraced Nicholas, and the experience proved to be a meaningful journey for both father and son.
When did Phil Collins formally conclude his live performances?
Phil Collins bid farewell to the live stage on March 26, 2022, marking his final ever performance alongside his Genesis bandmates during the group’s closing concert at London’s O2 Arena. The tour’s original schedule was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a nearly year-long delay due to an outbreak within the band, necessitating rescheduled dates.
When the tour was initially announced, Collins declared it would be his ultimate venture with Genesis. At that time, he was already utilizing a walking stick following his most recent surgery, highlighting the impact of his health challenges on his mobility.
Behind the scenes, his health struggles extended to his vocal preparation, affecting his ability to practice and maintain his voice, leading to a waning enthusiasm. In an interview with The Guardian, Collins disclosed, “I don’t do anything at all. I don’t practice singing at home, not at all. Rehearsing is the practice.”
Despite these hurdles, Collins acknowledged that his recent solo tours, where he performed seated due to health considerations, did not hinder the audience’s engagement. Reflecting on this unconventional approach, he stated, “It’s not the way I would have written it, but it’s the way that it is.”
Is there a possibility of Phil Collins making a complete recovery and returning to the stage?
Regrettably, the prospect of Phil Collins achieving a full recovery appears unlikely, given the progressive nature of the deterioration in the vertebrae in his upper neck. The operation undertaken in 2016 to alleviate back pain resulted in a ‘drop foot,’ a condition where nerve damage caused him to drag his foot while walking, even with the aid of a cane.
A year later, Collins faced further health challenges when he fell in a hotel bathroom, sustaining a severe head injury near his eye. Hospitalization was necessary, and he received stitches for the gash, ultimately recovering well under observation for 24 hours. Additionally, in the same year, Collins disclosed a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes after developing an abscess on his foot.
Following Genesis’ final performance, Mike Rutherford acknowledged Phil’s ongoing health deterioration while expressing that, despite increased immobility, Collins maintained good spirits during the tour.
In a 2022 statement to Rolling Stone magazine, Phil’s son, Nicholas, asserted that, at the moment, his father is retired. While suggesting the London show marked Phil’s last performance, Nicholas remained open to the unpredictable nature of the music industry, stating, “But then again, he said that in 2004, and we wound up doing a tour in 2018. You can never be sure. For me, I think that was that, but who knows.
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