Phil Collins Says He 'Nearly Died' From Drinking

By Paul Gaita 10/02/14

A host of health and personal problems led the Grammy-winning performer to fall down the well of addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

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In a recent interview, singer/drummer Phil Collins revealed to the British press that his recent two-year bout with heavy drinking nearly cost him his life.

The multi-Grammy-winning performer told the Daily Mail that he turned to alcohol after his third ex-wife, Swiss translator Orianne Cevey, remarried and moved with their two sons, Nick and Matt, from Switzerland to Miami, Fla. Collins, who had retired from the music business in 2010, said that the sudden absence of his children “left a big void. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, there’s cricket on today, I’ll open a bottle of wine.'”

At the time, Collins was also taking medication for a host of medical issues, including tendon problems from years of drumming with Genesis and as a solo performer, as well as a dislocated vertebra and deafness in one ear. “I was taking pills for all kinds of different little things,” said Collins. “[And the prescription pills] were not mixing with the drink, basically.”

The combination of alcohol and drugs left Collins with a near-fatal case of pancreatitis that spurred his family into action. “The kids were a little worried, and that’s what made me a little worried,” explained Collins. He tried rehabilitation and a traditional 12-step method, but found the programs restrictive. “I was supposed to be an alcoholic,” he noted. “I went to meetings and I did try rehab – for a week. But I couldn’t stand it. It was like being at boarding school.”

Collins instead found the help he needed with specialists in America, as well as through positive thinking. “In rehab, I did go along with this ‘Hello, my name’s Phil and I’m an alcoholic,’ because that’s what I was there for,” he said. “But I never really thought it myself. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been easy to stop. I haven’t drunk now for [nearly two years]. And I don’t find it a problem, frankly.”

Because his health and well-being has returned, Collins has flirted with occasional performances, most notably a charity gig in Miami this coming December. He has also reunited with former Genesis mates Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, and Steve Hackett to participate in the BBC documentary Together and Apart. But Collins is quick to add that, “I am not ready to return to the full concert stage at this time.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.