It’s no secret that Phil Collins has a stellar career as a musician. What many may not know is that he also played drums on all of his albums! There are so many great songs with drumming by him. This blog post will explore the highlights of Phil Collins as a drummer and why every drummer needs to learn how to play these all-time favorite hits!

Along with that, we will mention other drummers who played for Phil Collins throughout the years.

Who played drums for Phil Collins?

Phil Collins recorded a total of 8 studio albums and played drums on all of them, among several other instruments. However, for most of his live performances since the 80s, he hired Chester Thompson.

In recent years, his son Nick Collins joined him live on stage.

Phil Collins

Photo from musicradar.com

Collins replaced John Mayhew in Genesis back in 1970. By 1971 he only sang backing vocals and played drums.

The first song featuring him on lead vocals was “For Absent Friends.” In 1975 Peter Gabriel left the band, and although they got around 400 vocals replied to the advert, they decided to go with Phil.

His first album with Genesis was “A Trick of the Tail.” With Phil on the Vocals, Genesis succeeds in turning the situation to their advantage. Nobody thought they would recover after Gabriel’s departure.

Between 1978 and 1984, Genesis was on a break to work on private projects and spend time with their families. That was possibly the worst time for Collins cause his family has ripped apart due to extensive touring.

He had nothing left to do but turn these emotions into a song that led us to his first album, “Face Value.”

This album was a significant success and reached number one on UK Album charts. It was sold in 5 million copies worldwide. Collins showed his creativity on drums in a hit song from this record, “In the air tonight.”

After he released his second album, he started touring with his band. The first solo single that was first amongst several charts and won him a Grammy was “Against All Odds.”

His most successful album was “No Jacket Required,” which featured Peter Gabriel and Sting and earned him three Grammy Awards.

He finally left Genesis to concentrate on his solo career. By that time, he grew more prominent than the band, and with all the hit records and tour commitments, it was time for a change.

After Leaving the band, Collins was featured in many exciting projects such as Phil Collins’s big band where he played the drums, movie Tarzan for which he composed tracks. Tarzan earned him an Academy Award for the best original song.

He was also inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame, got the Disney Award, and a star on a Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2006 he toured again with Genesis, a band that will earn him induction in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 4 years later.

Many thought he would retire in 2010, and he was silent until 2016 when he published an autobiography and decided to go on a “Not Dead Yet” tour.

His five concerts in Royal Albert Hall were sold in fifteen seconds.

Is Phil Collins a good drummer?

He is not too technical but overall a great musician. He won many awards for his drumming from Rhythm, Music Radar, and Gigwise, Modern Drummer Magazine. He is cited by many drummers such as Taylor Hawkins, Mike Portnoy, Neil Peart, and many others for his significant drum parts.

He played drums on Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Philip Bailey records.

Phil Collins drum kit

Photo from Pinterest.com

Collins is an extraordinary and unique drummer who has been using Gretsch drums for years. He also uses Noble & Cooley solid snare drums from time to his signature Promark sticks.

His past kits were both created with great care to make sure they sounded precise how he wanted them to!

He plays Gretsch USA custom kit and is known for taking the bottom heads on toms and putting the mic inside as they would do in the old days.

Chester Thompson

Photo from commercial.presonus.com

Before getting an invitation to join fist Genesis then Phil Collins band, Chester was known as a drummer For Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.

Although he was a friend of Zappa tour manager Marty Perellis, Chester came to audition fair and square. He won the audition and joined the Zappa band.

Chester recalls his time in Mothers of the invention as the toughest gig he ever had due to highly complex music.

They would practice non-stop to perform these weird feels and grooves. Zappa was famous for odd-time signatures and complex arrangements.

Chester played on:

  •  Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)
  •  One Size Fits All (1975)
  •  Studio Tan (1978)
  •  Sleep Dirt (1978)
  • You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (1988)

After Zappa canceled the Australian tour in 1975, Chester decided it was time to move on.

He joined Weather Report and rehearsed with Santana before he got a call from Phil Collins to replace Bill Bruford in Genesis.

Genesis was a turning point for Chester because although he was an experienced and versatile drummer, he had to adjust both musically and culturally, he said.

He performed with Genesis on tours from 1977 to 1992 and again on their tour in 2007.

He played for Genesis on albums:

  • Seconds Out (1977),
  • Three Sides Live (1982)
  • The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts (1992)
  • The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs (1993)
  •  Live over Europe 2007 (2007)

Genesis decided not to make Thompson their full-time member, so he quit.

Next to Genesis, Chester played with Phil Collins on all of his tours from 1982 until 2005.

Phil Collins went back on tour in 2016, but this time with his son Nick on drums.

Nick Collins

Photo from sticks.de

Nick had the opportunity of playing drums for Genesis and his father, Phil Collins. He also plays with his band Better Strangers, who released their debut album “Luna’s Daydream” in 2021.

By playing in Phil’s band and Genesis, he was allowed to play with legendary session musicians such as Leland Sklar, Luis Conte, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, and others.