Phil Collins Discusses His Battle With Alcoholism

By May Wilkerson 01/29/16

The former Genesis drummer and Grammy Award winner opens up about his battle with alcohol and pills.

Phil Collins

British singer and former Genesis drummer, Phil Collins, has opened up about his battle with alcoholism, which he says stemmed from his sons moving overseas.

“There was a massive hole in my life, which I filled with a lot of drinking,” said the multiple Grammy-winning performer, in an interview with The Times this week.

The 64-year-old said in the late-2000s his sons moved with their mother, his ex-wife, from Switzerland to Miami, and their absence sent him spiraling into addiction. Finally, it was concern from his sons that prompted him to sober up more than three years ago. “With the drinking I saw that my kids got worried,” he told The Times. “I was taking pills for one thing or another, then I’d fall down the stairs. Now I’ve given up and family life is so much better.”

His sons’ move “left a big void,” he said in 2014. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, there’s cricket on today, I’ll open a bottle of wine.'” Collins said he “nearly died” from a combination of drinking and abusing pills he had been prescribed for various health problems, including tendonitis from years of drumming, as well as a dislocated vertebra. “I was taking pills for all kinds of different little things,” said Collins. “[And the prescription pills] were not mixing with the drink, basically.”

He eventually went to the United States where he tried inpatient rehab and 12-step programs, but “I couldn’t stand it. It was like being at boarding school.” He was eventually able to kick his addictions with the help of addiction specialists. In 2014, he said he hadn’t had a drink in nearly two years, “and I don’t find it a problem, frankly.”

Since then, Collins has been recovering from back surgery, and working on mending his relationship with his sons. The singer hasn’t released an album since 2002’s Testify, but he said he's now ready to record a new solo album and go on tour again after he recovers.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.