Phil Collins Beats The Odds Take a look at rock's 'Mr. Nice Guy' now
By Rob Hoerburger
The day after the Academy Awards, Phil Collins sat in his Hollywood hotel room, licking his wounds over a few early-afternoon Michelobs. He had come a long way just to lose, having rerouted his Australian tour to attend the show and then suffering the humiliation of having his offer to sing "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," which had been nominated for a Best Song award, turned down.
It had seemed a logical offer. By show time, Collins was just about the hottest singer in pop music – except in the eyes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which sent a letter to Mr. Phil Cooper, thanking him for his offer but informing him that by that time all the slots had been filled. Collins was also the one who had sung the song in the film and who'd had the big hit with it, and by most estimations, he was the only one who could do justice to the highly personal lyrics – except in the eyes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had given the nod to everyone's favorite singer, dancer Ann Reinking. This was a movie show, the academy explained; the songs would be performed by movie people. Collins, the polite, proper Brit, had been diplomatic about the situation, even up to the point when he walked down the red carpet into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Oscar night. It would probably be more interesting to see a production of the song than to see just him sitting at the piano, he told the roaming TV reporters. Then he watched such movie personalities as Ray Parker Jr. and Deniece Williams sing their nominated songs and heard his own song get butchered. Still, he might have forgotten all that had he won. By practically all estimations, including his own, his song was the best written of the five nominated – except in the eyes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gave the award to "I Just Called to Say I Love You," an egregious piece of fluff by Stevie Wonder. And that was enough to make Collins, who by most estimations is one of the nicest men in the record business, become a bit ruffled.
"It was awful," he said of the performance by Reinking, who lip-synced most of her vocal and might as well have lip-synced her dance routine. "But I'm glad I didn't sing the song now, after what they did to Ray Parker." And what about Wonder's win? "I'm disappointed that these things aren't necessarily judged on merit," Collins said. "Stevie Wonder is one of my heroes, but I have serious doubts about whether or not that song was actually written for the film." Collins had supposed it would come down to him and Wonder, though. "Stevie because he's blind, black, lives in L.A. and does a lot for human rights."
Had the thirty-four-year-old Collins won the Oscar, it would have capped off a dream week for him. His third solo album, No Jacket Required, had rocketed to Number One on Billboard 's charts in a mere four weeks, faster than even Thriller. More shocking, Collins' single "One More Night" was also Number One, holding off, at least temporarily, the all-star, all-media "We Are the World." In fact, it had been a dream year for Collins: Genesis, the band he had toiled in as drummer for fifteen years, had just come off its biggest album; he had produced, cowritten and shared lead vocals on "Easy Lover," a Number Two single for Philip Bailey, and he had won a Grammy for "Against All Odds," which had also reached Number One.
Genesis - Percussionist Phil Collins on January 18th 1984. Susan Biddle/The Denver Post via Getty
It certainly seemed like all that should have been enough to make Collins kiss off the Oscar loss, put away his shaving cream and fancy shoes and go back to his tour happy. Yet it stuck in his craw, and his disappointment, his rather well-thought-out case of sour grapes, clashed with his image as rock's Mr. Nice Guy. Could it be that Phil Collins was human after all? He was just about the only person in the music business with the gall to say something negative about the sacred "We Are the World," which eventually did dethrone "One More Night." Nice song, good cause, he said, "but done in a typically American way. Did they really need the laminated passes? When we did the Band Aid session, we all had to pay for cups of tea and coffee. I wish the guy who donated the champagne and caviar to USA had saved it and sent the money to Ethiopia." There was talk among the valets at the Sunset Marquis, the rock & roll hotel secluded just a few limos down the road from Sunset Boulevard, that Phil Collins wasn't exactly the friendly type and, moreover, that he was a lousy tipper. Phil Collins? The rock star who was known for not being a rock-star asshole, the man who went out of his way to say hello to everybody, the workaholic whose only hobby, only indulgence, was washing the dishes at night, and who drove himself around in an aging, battered BMW? Was all this ordinary-bloke stuff for real, or was success starting to go to his balding head? Even that had two opposing looks – one round, wide-eyed and innocent, nouveau Charlie Brown, and the other squinty and sinister, like the demon on the cover of No Jacket Required. And if Collins was the first to admit that he didn't look like a pop star, that he was short and paunchy, then it was also true that his appearance worked to his advantage. The previous year had been one of color and glamour on the pop charts: a purple prince, a blue madonna, a bronze wham, even a distinguishedly graying fogerty. The pop audience was primed for its own Cabbage Patch Kid, and Collins, with his catchy, smartly produced music, fit the bill: he was homely, and he sold.
If Phil Collin's rise was, as he would claim, slow and accidental, it was also a relatively comfortable one. He was raised in a middle-class suburb of London, the son of an insurance man and a stage age...http://www.beatles.ru/books/paper.asp?id=2559