Only an “act of God” will keep Phil Collins from fulfilling his duties this time around.
At last year’s gala fundraiser for his Little Dreams Foundation at The Fillmore, the music legend was forced to disappoint attendees by bowing out at the last minute due to health issues.
The former Genesis frontman turned solo superstar has an added boost: By the evening of Dec. 12, he should be fully recovered from back surgery he underwent at the University of Miami Spine Institute earlier this month.
“Excuse me if I sound a bit off; I’m on moderate painkillers,” says the self-effacing Brit, his signature raspy voice a bit more hoarse than usual. “I’m functioning perfectly otherwise. They fused some discs, and I should be up and running in no time. I’ve been playing drums all my life so this is probably one of the repercussions.”
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Collins is further motivated for the charity event’s performance, thanks to the storied Miami Beach venue.
“It’s quite a special place, and it’s nice when you see they haven’t knocked it down to build something new,” says Collins. “I’m so used to playing stadiums and arenas — which are really just concrete boxes.”
The gala is just one of many things on Collins’ plate. The 64-year-old, who had been in semi-retirement living in Geneva, Switzerland, is on the verge of a comeback.
As part of the “Take a Look at Me Now” campaign, all eight of the prolific singer-songwriter’s solo albums starting with his 1981 debut Face Value will be remastered and reissued as part of a new catalog deal with Warner Music Group. Originally set for November, the campaign is now slated to start in late January due to Collins’ operation.
The singer of such timeless classics as Sussudio, Something in the Air Tonight and Against All Odds says he was “iffy” about the reissuing idea at first but now is quite pleased with the outcome.
“I didn’t want my fans to have to buy everything all over again,” he says. “But you’ll be getting different sounds. There’s a variety of stuff — every album will have a second life with rare versions of songs or demos and new artwork. This is something I’ve got my fingerprints all over.”
Amazingly, it seems the ever humble Collins is just now starting to understand just how important his music is in the grand scheme.
“Well, you know some of these young artists are citing me as an influence, which is very brave of them,” he snickers. “People like Lorde, Pharrell, apparently listened to me while growing up. So this is a good time to rediscover me, if you will.”
Die-hard Phil aficionados will also get to rediscover Collins with a forthcoming, as yet untitled autobiography due out in October 2016 published by Crown Archetype, which is owned by Penguin Random House.
“I’m not really supposed to talk about it,” says the seven-time Grammy Award winner about the memoir. “But I will say I’ve been thinking about doing it a long time. I’ve played with a lot of people over the years and got loads and loads of rude stories that haven’t been told properly. I’ll try to set the record straight.”
Despite all the projects, Collins makes time for his Little Dreams Foundation, which he launched with his ex-wife, local jeweler Orianne Collins Mejjati, 15 years ago. (They share custody of their two sons who attend Miami Country Day School.)
“I kept getting letters from kids who wanted to break into show business — not necessarily music, but arts, dance, sports, whatever,” Collins explains of starting the foundation. “I didn’t know what to tell them: That it’s really difficult? To stick with it anyway? It’s expensive? So I thought, ‘Let’s come up with an idea to realize a dream. Let’s help you up the first rung of the ladder.’ It’s just a way of encouraging people, taking them under our wing and seeing if they have real talent or it should be best left as a hobby.”