On March 26, 2022, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks, the other members of the Genesis band, played their final concert as a unit, closing an iconic chapter in the history of rock music. A great career spanning five decades came to an end, but not without its share of health setbacks and personal victories.
At the age of 72, Phil Collins performed on stage with Genesis for the final time, although due to ongoing health concerns, he didn’t stand behind the drum kit. Nic Collins, his son, took over the drumming instead, signifying a passing of the baton. In a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Nic hinted that his father might be retired for good, saying, “I think that show in London was my dad’s last show. But then again, he said that in 2004, and we wound up doing a tour in 2018. You can never be sure.”
However, as 2023 rolled around, it became evident that Phil’s health struggles had not abated. His ongoing nerve damage left him “more immobile” than ever, according to Mike Rutherford. The road to this point had been marked by a series of physical challenges that began in 2007.
In 2007, Phil Collins suffered a dislocated vertebra in his neck during a Genesis reunion tour, setting off a chain of health problems. This injury resulted in lasting nerve damage, which, over time, forced him to give up drumming, a skill he had honed for half a century. He candidly shared his frustration in a 2009 statement, explaining, “My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in. It comes from years of playing. I can’t even hold the sticks properly without it being painful.” Despite having to bid farewell to drumming, Phil remained optimistic, assuring fans, “Don’t worry, I can still sing.”
In 2010, during an interview with Rolling Stone, Phil reiterated that he had already stopped drumming and didn’t miss it. He also opened up about experiencing suicidal ideation, acknowledging the emotional toll of his physical ailments. He mentioned a comedian who had committed suicide in the 1960s, leaving a note that read, “Too many things went wrong too often,” a sentiment that resonated with him.
Adding to his challenges, Phil Collins revealed in 2021 that he was battling diabetes alongside his nerve damage, compounding the physical limitations he faced. “I’m kind of physically challenged a bit, which is very frustrating because I’d love to be playing up there,” he shared, referring to his desire to continue performing music. “I can barely hold a [drum] stick with this hand, so there are certain physical things that get in the way.”
The timeline of Phil’s injuries tells a story of perseverance and adaptation. Since 2007, he has navigated these physical setbacks with remarkable resilience. He underwent surgeries in 2009 and 2016, with the latter leaving him reliant on a cane to assist with mobility. During a press conference in 2016, Phil admitted, “I’ll never play the way I used to.” He recounted an incident on the Genesis reunion tour where he engaged in a drumming duel with Chester Thompson and something inexplicable happened, causing him to lose his drumming abilities. Despite the frustration, he remained philosophical, saying, “I’m 65, and I played drums since I was five. I’d like to have the choice about being able to play, but I’m not going to cry myself to sleep about it.”
His ongoing health issues include “drop foot,” a condition that makes it difficult to elevate the front of the foot and generates a dragging sensation when walking. This illness frequently has underlying neurological, muscular, or anatomical problems, which makes Phil’s medical journey even more complicated.
Fast forward to 2023, and it is clear that Phil Collins’ health has only become worse. His Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford revealed that Phil had become more immobile in a BBC Breakfast interview. He did stress that Phil was happy and enjoying his time at home, though. The fact that Phil persisted despite these difficulties for as long as he did is a credit to his fortitude and love of music.
Despite the physical cost, both the band and their fans found the final Genesis performance in 2022 to be a sad and emotional occasion. In a touching tribute, Lily Collins, Phil’s daughter, perfectly encapsulated the significance of the event. She expressed thanks for the memories and pride in her brother Nic, who played a significant part in continuing the family’s musical tradition.
Finally, Phil Collins’ struggle with health issues in the later stages of his career is a monument to both his undying love of music and his capacity for change in the face of difficulty. While the curtain may have fallen on his live performances, his legacy as a musician and performer continues to resonate with generations of fans, and his indomitable spirit remains an inspiration to many.