Phil Collins: Not Dead Yet? Thank God!

DK ONLINE: Some of the best entertainment news I’ve heard so far this year is that legendary pop rocker Phil Collins will be touring the United States this fall.  While I don’t usually equate fall with prime concert season (usually the best shows are during the summer), I am anticipating few other shows as much as this one when it reaches Philly.

Collins goes back to the earliest music I started listening to, both in his solo career and as a member of Genesis. It’s one of the interests I inherited from my late father who was a big fan too. I even have some of my dad’s vinyl collection which includes a fairly crisp copy of Collins’ debut solo effort Face Value. Released in 1981 it contains arguably Phil’s biggest hit “In The Air Tonight,” which quickly became a contemporary rock classic in addition to earning its own unique spot in popular culture.

Urban legend has it that the song was written about a man who witnessed a drowning but did nothing to help. That story changed over the years and actually made an odd appearance in an episode of Family Guy. Collins has dismissed that rumor, saying in fact he had no idea what the song is about. This much is certain: he was going through a divorce at the time of writing the hit and was certainly feeling all kinds of pain, as evidenced in other songs on the album.

No doubt the special drum technique and mid-song drum solo/breakdown makes it one of the most recognizable tracks in music.  And yet, there are so many more songs I’ve developed a strong affinity for; including “Don’t Lose My Number,” “I Wish It Would Rain Down” and the uplifting yet ironic “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven”. I’m getting chills just listening to it as I write this!

It’s particularly uplifting that Phil is “Not Dead Yet!” which is the 2018 tour name and title of his book. You can’t help but say that after so many of his contemporaries have passed away.

I’ve spent the last few months being thankful for the iconic groups I have seen live across all genres of music. Seeing Genesis on their 2007 reunion tour is one checked off the bucket list. While it wasn’t the progressive favorite 5 with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett, it was the most commercially successful lineup with Collins, Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford.

Of course by tradition they were supported by longtime loyal sidemen Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, the latter who played on all of Collins’ timeless 80s albums. Thompson also backed up Collins live, drumming on a majority of his solo tours. No one knows how long we’re on this earth so to see them live was a true blessing.

(A Genesis concert from the 2007 reunion era).

The same can be said about the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert I went to last summer, just months before Petty’s surprising and tragic death. It was pretty hard to process at first, especially considering it took years to finally get around to seeing him.

Seeing Ronnie James Dio in an off shoot of Black Sabbath was another moment that certainly meant a lot more after he passed away in 2010.

The reckoning has even hit many legendary artists themselves, like Sammy Hagar who turned 70 last year and expressed how grateful he was to reach that milestone with so many of his peers dropping like flies. He also told rock radio host Eddie Trunk of his dismay that Eddie Van Halen never wished him a happy birthday.  If you don’t know the drama there in the Van Halen camp, well…let’s just say it would take another full length column to explain.

So for Phil Collins and the many other legends who are not dead yet, I say a hearty Thank God!

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