With his distinctive percussive style and soulful songwriting, Phil Collins penned songs that added a unique emotional dimension to Disney’s animated hit Tarzan, including “You’ll Be In My Heart,” which won him an Oscar®. And rather than the animated characters singing his music, Phil lent his own throaty, passionate voice to the film’s songs, including “Two Worlds,” “Son of Man,” and “Strangers Like Me,” creating a unique experience for Disney moviegoers.
As Phil told People magazine in 1999, “We’ve broken some molds. The fact that I’m singing and the characters don’t burst into song makes it very different.”
The youngest of three children, Phil was born in London on January 30, 1951, and grew up a child actor. At 13, he played the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver!—the musical version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist. By his late teens Phil entered the music scene, selected from 400 hopefuls as replacement drummer for the British rock band Genesis in 1970. By 1978, the band’s album And Then There Were Three had gone gold, and the followup, Duke, was even more successful.
Around that time, Phil began producing solo music. His first single, “In the Air Tonight,” quickly rose to number two in the United Kingdom and the top 20 chart in the United States. He went on to release a string of 13 straight U.S. Top 10 hits between 1984 and 1990, including “Sussudio,” “Don’t Lose My Number,” and “Another Day in Paradise.”
Phil was first nominated for an Oscar in 1985, for his song “Take a Look at Me Now,” which he wrote and performed for the motion picture Against All Odds. In 1991, he released the album Face Value, which became a bigger hit than any of the Genesis albums on which he performed. After 25 years, Phil left the band in 1996 to focus on his solo career. His other albums include Hello, I Must Be Going, No Jacket Required, Dance Into the Light, and more.
Along the way, Phil also continued acting, appearing in HBO’s And The Band Played On, a film about AIDS, and Buster, which he both starred in and provided music for.
In 1999 he provided songs for Disney’s Tarzan. Composer Mark Mancina, who worked with Phil on the film, observed:
“There’s something very sincere about Phil’s voice… His voice has a tendency to wrap itself around you and bring you into his world. As soon as he starts singing, it’s just magic and provides a very welcoming feeling.”
Phil translated that feeling into other languages, as well, when he recorded the Tarzan soundtrack in German, Italian, French, and two dialects of Spanish (Latin American and Castilian), an unprecedented feat by a musical artist for a motion picture. His single from the film, “You’ll Be in My Heart,” spent 19 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.
Phil went on to voice a character in 2003’s The Jungle Book 2, and that same year he teamed once more with composer Mark Mancina on the soundtrack of a Disney animated feature–Brother Bear.
In 2006, Tarzan was adapted into a Broadway musical. Phil was heavily involved with the production, writing a number of new songs and instrumental pieces for the show.