Title: Not Dead Yet (2016) Author: Phil Collins Publisher: Crown Book jacket: Phil Collins pulls no punches — about himself, his life, or the ecstasy and heartbreak that’s inspired his music. This is Phil Collins as you’ve always known him, but also as you’ve never heard him before. Joe says: Not Dead Yet makes Phil Collins relatable. And makes you want to meet him all the more. Completely captivating.
As an impressionable young boy in the summer of 1985, fully discovering my personal musical tastes, I distinctly remember purchasing Genesis’ self-titled release, on cassette of course. After all, local-Philadelphia radio station WMMR was, as it was quite known for doing, playing the album to death. But more than the familiarity of certain songs, the opening track of “Mama” was magical. The drums’ rhythm, the hard guitar, the spooky synths. And that evil laugh.
Thirty-plus years later, I still find that laugh, and the man responsible for it, so completely captivating.
Phil Collins presents plenty of tales in his memoir Not Dead Yet. Some were known: becoming the frontman for Genesis; his own successful solo career; his not-quite as successful acting gigs. There were also plenty of deep dives into the unknown. Three divorces and rampant alcoholism? A debilitating and degenerating nerve disease? News to me, brother.
Through it all, Phil never comes across as preaching, or bragging, or self-indulgent. Instead, he’s telling you tales. Maybe from across the bar at the pub. Maybe at an AA meeting. But these are some great tales.
Personally? And with a crash of the high-hat, I would have totally liked the addition of more Genesis details. Phil does spend a large portion of his novel discussing his time with the band; they were a large part of his life. He has obviously done plenty outside of the band and yearns to discuss those moments, too. I very much remember him flying between stadiums for Live Aid, but completely forgot, as I’m sure Phil would be thankful for, that he played second drummer in the Led Zeppelin “reunion”.
Hey. Phil was, and still is, a huge, driving force in music. His book definitely has major fan appeal, but contains enough of the personal, the human, element that even the casual fan – who might only be familiar with Tarzan or “In The Air Tonight” – will find completely accessible and enjoyable. Not Dead Yet makes Phil relatable. And makes you want to meet him all the more.
And for that merely casual fan? I highly recommend Genesis by Genesis.
If solely for that laugh.