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, and probably due to the fact that 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. Captivating. Thirty-plus years later, I still find that laugh, and the man responsible for it, just as captivating.
Phil Collins presents in his memoir Not Dead Yet plenty of tales. Some known, such as when he became the frontman for Genesis as well as his own successful solo career, to the unknown. Three divorces and rampant alcoholism? News to me. Through it all, Phil never comes across as preaching, or bragging, or self-indulgent. Instead, he’s telling you telling tales. Maybe from across the bar at the pub. Maybe at an AA meeting. But great tales.
Yes, personally, I would have liked the addition of more Genesis details, but Phil does spend a large portion of his novel to his time with the band, as they were a large part of his life, but he has obviously done plenty outside of the band. 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” to be completely accessible and enjoyable. Not Dead Yet makes Phil relatable. And you want to meet him all the more.
And for that merely casual fan, I highly recommend Genesis by Genesis. If just for that laugh.