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Phil In: 12 Times When Phil Collins Popped In To Play On Other People's Records

Everyone knows that Phil Collins was a member of Genesis, and given that he released Face Value 35 years ago this month and has since gone on to sell an estimated 150 million albums worldwide, it's a fair bet that plenty of people are well aware of his solo career, too. What you may not realize, however, is just how many other songs he's played on over the years. Given the ongoing reissue campaign for Collins' solo catalog, this seems like the perfect time to fill you in.

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1. George Harrison, "Art of Dying"

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In 1964, Phil Collins found himself in the audience for a scene that was being filmed for The Beatles' first motion picture, A Hard Day's Night. By 1970, he was actually recording with a Beatle. Not a bad progression, really. Collins wasn't the drummer on the song - that honor went to Jim Gordon (Derek and the Dominos) - but he did contribute congas. He wasn't originally credited, however, and you might not even be able to hear them, anyway, but Collins offered an explanation for that in a 2001 interview with Mojo: when the band was running through the song in advance of the session, the performances were so powerful that when the time came to record, Collins' hands were so blistered that he couldn't hit the congas with nearly as much force as he'd done during the practice runs.

Funnily enough, Harrison didn't even realize that Collins had been on the session - or at least he hadn't put two and two together to realize who the young conga contributor turned out to be - until he was putting together the 30th anniversary reissue of the album. Harrison sent Collins a tape, along with a note asking, "Is this you?" The tape contained a version of “Art of Dying” with a horrible conga performance, at the end of which he could hear Harrison saying, "Let’s try it again without the conga player.” A few days later, Harrison called and asked if he got the tape, but before Collins - who was understandably mortified - could tell Harrison that he didn't have to embarrass him like that, Harrison interrupted to admit that he'd had Ray Cooper play really bad congas on purpose and sent it to Collins as a joke. In addition to assuring him that his playing had been fine, Harrison also remedied the credit omission and listed Collins' contribution in the 2000 reissue.

2. John Martyn, "Don't You Go"

Collins and British folk legend John Martyn weren't just friends: for a time, they were actually roommates. Well, more or less, anyway. Both gentlemen were going divorces as the '70s were coming to a close, and when Martyn found himself without a place to live as a result of his marital problems, Collins invited him to move in. The end result was not only a friendship but a musical collaboration between the two gentlemen which stretched over several albums, including Grace & Danger (1980), Glorious Fool (1981), from which "Don't You Go" is taken, and Couldn't Love You More (1992).

3. Frida, "I Know There's Something Going On"

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For better or worse, Collins' divorce led to this musical collaboration, too, after a fashion: while going through her own divorce, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, the former ABBA singer better known in her solo career as Frida, claimed that she listened to Collins' Face Value for eight months straight, which led her label, Polar Music, to approach him about producing her next album. He accepted, later acknowledging in a TV interview that "Frida and I had something in common as far as our divorces were concerned: we were both the injured party." The resulting album, Something's Going On, was a worldwide success, but it's certainly best remembered in the US for its title track, which hit #13 and featuring a pounding drum sound which could only have come from our man Phil.

4. Eric Clapton, "Behind the Sun"


In fairness, we could've filled out this list with plenty of other Clapton / Collins collaborations, but it seemed appropriate to go with the title track of the first album Collins produced for Clapton, and not just because the above photo features the duo on their way to Antigua to record the album. It was during the Behind the Sun sessions that his wife Pattie left him, a traumatic time which led him to compose the song which became the album's title track. It's the last song on the album, and it's just Clapton on vocals and guitar, with Collins providing a bit of synth. (Hey, it was 1984, after all.)

5. Howard Jones, "No One Is To Blame"

Howard Jones first released "No One Is To Blame" on his 1985 album, Dream Into Action, but when the album's initial singles "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Life in One Day" proved to be hits, it was decided somewhere up the food chain that "No One Is To Blame" needed to be a mite radio-friendlier. In turn, Jones re-recorded the song, this time with production from Collins and Hugh Padgham, with Collins also contributing drums and backing vocals. Say what you will about the decision, but you can't argue with the results: the song hit #4 in America and remains the biggest U.S. hit of Jones's career.

6. Chaka Khan, "Watching The World"

Chaka Khan might not have set a record with the number of musicians, producers, and sound engineers credited on her 1986 album Destiny, but it definitely sets up anyone who look at the album's liner notes to ask, "Wow, it took that many people to make this?" Indeed, there are so many people involved in this record that Collins wasn't even the only member of Genesis to turn up: after enjoying Collins' drum and vocal contributions to "Watching the World," stay tuned for "The Other Side of the World," co-written by none other than Mike Rutherford.

7. The Four Tops, "Loco in Acapulco"

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You'll be able to spot the source of this song quite easily by taking a gander at the video: it's straight from the soundtrack to Collins' 1988 film, Buster, but in addition to its prime placement therein, it's also a Collins co-write. (Like "Two Hearts," it's one that he wrote with Lamont Dozier, whose name will pop up again shortly.) It's also particularly notable for having been a top-10 hit for the Four Tops in the UK, despite failing to chart in America.

8. Stephen Bishop, "Love at a Distance"

Given the amount of success Collins and Marilyn Martin found when they recorded Stephen Bishop's "Separate Lives," it's probably not a surprise to anyone that Collins happily agreed to contribute to Bishop's 1989 album, Bowling in Paris with drums, backing vocals, and even a bit of co-production. Collins' crooning can be heard on this track as well as "Walking on Air."

9. Lamont Dozier, "The Quiet's Too Loud"

See, we told you you'd be seeing Lamont Dozier again. Having earned a top-10 hit with his cover of "You Can't Hurry Love," it's no wonder that Collins and Dozier became fast friends when they first met in 1985 at the Grammy Awards. The following year, Dozier contributed a couple of songs to Eric Clapton's August album, most of which was produced by Collins, and the favor was returned when Dozier released his 1991 album Inside Seduction, with both Clapton and Collins turning up on the album's lead single, "The Quiet's Too Loud."

10. David Crosby, "Hero"


For years, the rumor floated around that Collins had paid for David Crosby's much-publicized liver transplant in 1994, but when asked directly about the matter in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Crosby would only say, "I'm not going to get into the specifics about how - it's nobody else's business but mine and Phil's - but he did help me tremendously." Indeed, some might argue that Collins was Crosby's hero...but that would just be a convenient way of bringing up the title of their co-written duet, which was - by coincidence, let's say - released the year before the transplant.

11. Fourplay, "Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning"

Collins' connection to Fourplay goes back far, far longer than his contribution to their 1995 album Elixir: Nathan East, the group's bassist, actually played on Eric Clapton's Behind the Sun, which - as you'll recall from earlier in this article - was produced by Collins. The song itself, meanwhile, goes back even farther, as it made its debut on Collins' 1982 album, Hello, I Must Be Going.

12. Simon Collins, "The Big Bang"

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If the last name seems familiar and the gentleman standing with his back against Phil's in the above video looks like he could be Phil's son, well, that's because he is. And if you're wondering, Simon Collins has inherited more than just his father's last name: he's a percussionist himself, and he and his pops have a bit of fun going to town on this drum duet from Simon's third album, U-Catastrophe, released in 2008.

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