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Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil Collins

Not Dead Yet: The Memoir (2016)

by Phil Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1359136,351 (3.9)3
Phil Collins pulls no punches -- about himself, his life, or the ecstasy and heartbreak that has inspired his music. In this memoir, he tells the story of his epic career, with an auspicious debut at age 11 in a crowd shot from the Beatles' legendary film A Hard Day's Night. A drummer since almost before he could walk, Collins received on-the-job training in the seedy, thrilling bars and clubs of 1960s swinging London before finally landing the drum seat in Genesis. He would step into the spotlight on vocals after the departure of Peter Gabriel and begin to stockpile the songs that would rocket him to international fame with the release of Face Value and "In the Air Tonight." Collins recalls jamming with Eric Clapton and Robert Plant, pulling together a big band fronted by Tony Bennett, and writing the music for Disney's animated Tarzan. And of course he answers the pressing question on everyone's mind: just what does "Sussudio" mean?… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A good read, but I have to say I struggle between the story of the man and the quality of the autobiography. I have followed Genesis and Phil for years, but for such an outstanding musician and songwriter, his failings in his treatment of those he loves is dire. However he is very honest in his autobiography on the selfish nature of being a workaholic. Interesting. ( )
  PhilOnTheHill | Sep 8, 2019 |
Love Genesis. Big Phil Collins fan. Seems open in his writings. Shares the good and bad. He sounds like an ass. Really devoted to music over family. Hence 3 divorces. Didnt know about the drinking issues. gave some good insight into meanings behind his solo albums ( )
  bermandog | Jul 25, 2019 |
In Not Dead Yet: The Memoir, Phil Collins provides a candid look at his life and career, from humble beginnings in an “end-of-the-line” London neighborhood to drummer and then frontman/vocalist for the progressive rock band Genesis to international superstardom as a solo performer and songwriter. Collins demonstrates a sharp wit in tracing the trajectory of his career, dropping many familiar names and recalling some terrific behind-the-scenes stories from recording sessions and the seemingly endless run of concert tours. He also recounts with evident sadness and regret his inability to balance the touring demands with his family obligations, his three failed marriages, extramarital affairs, battles with alcohol abuse, and the profound effect all of this had on his children. The combination of humor and pathos makes this an intriguing memoir. ( )
  ghr4 | May 10, 2019 |
Born on January 30, 1951, in Middlesex, London, Phil Collins had drumming in his blood from the age of three when his parents gave him a drum to play with for a Christmas gift. When he was older, his brother Clive and his sister Carole would design a drum kit for him until his mother and he could combine their money when he was ten and buy his first real kit.

But drumming wasn't his only interest. His mother was an agent for young actors (actually she became one after he became an actor and she saw a need in the area for one). He played the Artful Dodger in Oliver! on West End. That wouldn't be the only character he'd portray in that play. When his voice broke he'd have to give up playing the Artful Dodger, but he would go back at different times in his youth and play various parts. It was a way to make money to afford a way to see acts of the day and to buy equipment. Later in life, he would act again for television and for the movies (He was even considered for the part of The Master on Dr. Who).

He would join bands that went nowhere except for the band Hickory that became Flaming Youth once the brilliant producers Howard and Blaikley get a hold of them. They write them an odd concept album Ark 2 that does so well that Melody Maker picks it as album of the month for October 1969 over Led Zepplin II. But performing the album live proved difficult and writing new material also proved difficult so the band broke up.

With nothing to do he gets a fateful chance to play on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. This isn't his first time meeting a Beatle. He was an extra in a scene in the movie A Hard Day's Night. But don't look for him in the concert scene. He got cut. The song is "The Art of the Dying" and they need a bongo player. He's never played bongos in his life but that's not going to stop him. He gets his check in the mail and waits eagerly for the three-sided album to come out. He isn't in the liner notes and then he can't hear himself in the song. All he can think is that they went in another direction. He finally gets a chance to ask George but he says he can't remember much of making that album. Then George plays a dirty trick on Collins and tells him they found his tracks. He sends him some atrocious bongo playing with George at the end saying can we try it at the top without the bongo player.

Now he's looking for a new band and on a fateful day, he would answer the advertisement for Genesis who were looking for a drummer and a guitarist. Genesis would go through drummers like Spinal Tap, though none went up in spontaneous combustion. Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford were private school boy chums as were the members of the band that had quit. Now they need someone to take their place. He wins them over and gets the gig and becomes the comic relief in a band where Tony and Peter are often going at each other with Mike playing peacemaker. The guitarist is Steve Hackett.

That lineup would continue for several albums until the fateful Lamb Lies Down on Broadway that didn't do so well when Peter announces that he is leaving the band while they are on tour. He is convinced to stay for the tour, but now Genesis needs to find a new lead singer. Eventually, they'll realize that they have a lead singer with Phil Collins and what they need is a new drummer. Bill Bruford, the former drummer from Yes would drum for them for a year then they'd get Chester Thompson who'd stay with them till the end.

While Genesis is going on Phil reconnects with an old girlfriend who is living in Vancouver and has a daughter, Joley. The two get married and move to England, but the stress of his life of making albums and touring put a strain on their marriage and she cheats on him with the man who is supposed to be helping her fix their house up. Still, he tries to save his marriage as Genesis takes a break so the guys can do their own personal projects. By this time they have a son, Simon and she's moved back to Vancouver, but there's no saving the marriage. He pours his heart out into some songs that would end up on his solo album Face Value, such as "In the Air Tonight", "I Missed Again", "If Leaving Me Was Easy" and one that ended up a single "Against All Odds". But one of the songs on the album was a love song based on his new romance with Jill Tavelman "This Must Be Love". At this time Genesis would put out Duke and will have a real breakthrough with the song "Misunderstanding" that Phil wrote.

Genesis is a juggernaut that keeps going and when Genesis isn't going he is on solo projects or he's doing producing with others such as Eric Clapton and Robert Plant. His marriage is strong and he has a daughter named Lily from it, but not strong enough to withstand him running into a former girlfriend whom he still has feelings for. He has an affair and they make plans to leave their spouses but she backs out and the short-lived affair ends with him writing an album about it, Both Sides. On top of that, he meets a woman with whom he falls in love with in Switzerland named Orianne.

This book also talks about the mistakes made at Live Aid and what happened. Phil Collins was the only person to play at both stadiums in London and Philadelphia during the concert. How Sting told him before going on that he sometimes changes the words to his songs which left Phil who had learned the words to the songs for the concert at a loss and singing the wrong words. And the "Led Zepplin" debacle. At least Eric Clapton went well.

Collins takes you behind the scenes into his life and his songs and his time with Genesis and his time spent with other famous people and his medical problems and his addiction problems. He really puts it out there and holds nothing back. Sadly, this wasn't a well-written book. There were many times I wanted to put it down because of its writing but the stories kept me coming back. In the end, I'm a huge fan of Phil Collins and Genesis and the book was worth reading for that alone. I give this book three and a half stars out of five.


People hate a break-up, but they love a break-up song.

-Phil Collins (Not Dead Yet: A Memoir p 186)

But wisdom comes with age, and I now feel I have a master’s degree in divorce and people management. I will come to view my adult life as forty years of negotiation.

-Phil Collins (Not Dead Yet: A Memoir p 220) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Mar 4, 2019 |
"Music made me, but it also unmade me."

A quote from the audiobook I just finushed listening to. I've been a Phil Collins fan and a listener of the later Genesis music.

I liked the book. He has a humorous way of telling his story, not avoiding the parts he looks bad in.
The choices he made caused a lot of his emotional pain, the career he choose a lot of his physical problems.
I would have thought him wiser than to grab a bottle to drown his sorrow, but he's 'only human' like the rest of us.

Interesting and pleasantly read. I enjoyed it! ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jan 27, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Phil Collinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarainen, JereTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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