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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Taylor Hawkins’ touching letter of support for Phil Collins

After joining Genesis in the early 1970s, Phil Collins established himself as a class act behind the drum kit. However, with Peter Gabriel’s departure in 1974, Collins gradually took on more of the singing and songwriting duties in the group. By the end of the decade, he was swarming with ideas to the point that he launched a concurrent and highly successful solo career.

Through the 1980s, Collins’ solo career began to eclipse his work with Genesis and ultimately took the helm when he left the band in 1996. After a brief reunion in 2000, Collins returned to his position in Genesis for three reunion tours, the latest concluding in 2022.

Sadly, the 2022 tour was Genesis’ regretful farewell. Collins, who has struggled with health issues over the past couple of decades, had to sing from an office chair. Genesis’s keyboardist, Tony Banks, confirmed the farewell shortly after the concluding show.

Speaking to Vulture in March 2023, Banks gave an update on Collins’ condition. “I don’t think there’s anything else left. The well is dry,” he said. “We can’t tour any more because of Phil’s state, so that’s the end of that.”

At around the same time, guitarist Mike Rutherford discussed Collins on BBC Breakfast. “As you know, Phil is a bit… He’s much more immobile than he used to be, which is a shame, but at the tour, he was in good spirits,” he said. “He’s fine now at home, enjoying life. He’s worked so hard over the years. I think he’s enjoying his time at home”.

Compounding Collins’ struggle with physical health, the drummer has also endured an associated mental health decline of late. In an interview several years ago, Collins opened up about his depression battle amid relationship woes. Asked whether he had felt suicidal, Collins answered, “Yes”. 

Naturally, news relating to Collins’ mental health swept the globe over the following days and weeks, with a predictable lack of delicacy. Fortunately, the late, great drummer Taylor Hawkins was around to comfort the Genesis star.

Speaking to Louder Sound in 2020, Collins recalled an email the former Foo Fighters drummer had sent him during the media storm. “He wrote me a lovely email: ‘Us in the Foo Fighters, we think the world of you. Please don’t feel bad about anything.’ I’d done a thing in Rolling Stone that echoed around the world,” he explained. “I’d spent three days with this journalist, and we started talking about things.”

Colins then recalled the conversation that started it all. “They said: ‘When three marriages have gone wrong, and you’re not living with your kids, then sometimes, it’s a dangerous word to use, but have you ever felt suicidal?’ ‘Yeah, I have.’ People rang me up and said: ‘Don’t say that! What are your kids going to say at school?’ There was a picture of me with Davy Crockett’s rifle and an axe. I thought it was lovely that he’d taken the time to write,” added Collins.

Watch Phil Collins address the audience at Genesis’ final show below.

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