Recently it was announced that Phil Collins was retiring from music due to health reasons (dislocated vertebra, hearing loss, nerve damage to hands). Hearing about an older musician quitting is nothing new. Ozzy has retired no less than eight times over the years and like clockwork he comes back. In the case of Collins I do believe he is sincere in retiring as his heart just does not seem to be in it any longer.
Although the news of his retirement has not affected me one way or another. Let’s face it, the man has not been doing much except going on reunion concerts with Genesis and has not put out any new material in years. What has gotten my attention are the other things he is saying in interviews.
So why the official announcement?
All one has to do is read the short story on his retirement at Time.com to get at the heart of what has caused Phil to give it up. His quotes:
“I’m sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn’t mean it to happen like that. It’s hardly surprising that people grew to hate me”
“I don’t really belong to that world and I don’t think anyone’s going to miss me. I’m much happier just to write myself out of the script entirely”
“Today’s world of MTV Music Awards and artists who care more about celebrity status than making music led to a choice.”
This is not the first time Phil has made the same sort of comments. A couple of months ago he did an interview with Rolling Stone magazine where he talks about thinking of committing suicide a couple of times. He also believes he fought in the battle of the Alamo that took place in 1836 but that won’t be discussed here! Let’s just stick to his music.
I believe at the core of why Phil has retired from music has to do with the fact that as he has gotten older he is feeling left out in one form or another. Unlike other artists who seem to gather more respect (and are referred to as legends) as they get older – artists such as Eric Clapton, Elton John, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and so forth – Phil is not. Phil has fallen into the Leon Russell camp of “oh that guy, yeah he had a couple of songs that I liked. Wonder what happened to him?”
Note: In the case of the great Leon Russell, Elton John made sure everyone remembered his contributions to the music scene by getting with his hero and releasing a great album (The Union) which Cameron Crowe has done a documentary on and will premiere at this years Tribeca Film Festival.
Phil’s bitterness at the music scene has been creeping up here and there over the last couple of years. I watched a video of his acceptance speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony from last year and one could easily see that Phil is bitter. One of his remarks backstage had something to do with not many artists will publicly acknowledge the influence Genesis had on their careers. Phil’s comments like that are very telling and I for one find it rather sad.
At one time you could not turn on a radio or watch an entertainment show without Phil getting a mention or his songs getting played. From 1981 to 1989 Phil was everywhere. Whether it was his solo releases, touring as a drummer for Eric Clapton and then Robert Plant, appearing at various charity concerts, plus his work with Genesis, the man was a machine and he, from my viewpoint at least, seemed to be enjoying every moment.
During that same time frame Phil was racking up the awards right and left which resulted even more exposure and I do believe that is what has become the problem with his career. Over exposure. Fans like me moved on and I’m sorry to say but that is normal. A fan, even if they have moved on, will always cherish the memories of a time when he put out some great material. It’s just he started putting out the same material over and over again in the 90’s and his fans wanted more of what was taking place at that time.
Maybe it’s not the fans that has gotten Phil so down. It could be something going on inside the music industry that has taken it’s toll on him. No one knows for sure but Phil. Maybe he still has wounds from his battle at The Alamo. Either way, god speed Mr. Collins and thank you so much for your contribution to my music experience.
Some of my favorite Collins songs (those that are on video that is)