By the Nineties his detractors were getting fed up hearing his easy-going music all over, regarding Collins as a purveyor of middle-of-the-road Muzak.When his second marriage to Jill Tavelman ended in 1996 and he began a relationship with third wife Orianne Cevey, 22 years his junior, he was seen by many as heartless.“Band auditions in those days were usually held upstairs in a pub in King’s Cross as opposed to a big house in the Surrey countryside,” he laughs.“This was a different world.” Collins soon made himself at home in this world and in the world at large, earning a reputation as a drumming powerhouse to match The Who’s Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.“My second wife corrected me on that,” he says, with a slightly pained grin.“Considering the gravity with which my divorces were reported, I get on great with my three ex-partners.” He has always sought to keep the peace, not least for the sake of his children.“I like being on my own,” he says after a soul-searching hour-and-a-half. '” He gets up to shake hands and say goodbye, a small man with a massive past and an uncertain future.“I’ve got an interestingly modest house and I sit in my kitchen with my Pot Noodles...” Hold on, he eats Pot Noodles?
He began his love affair with the instrument when he was six and given a kit hand-made by his uncle but he never dreamed he would become, through his tenure with Genesis, one of the world’s top drummers.
Unlike those two rock wild men, however, who died in 19 respectively, Collins rarely if ever indulged in bad-boy behaviour, even as Genesis became a huge attraction across the globe. “It’s not about control,” he replies, “it’s about knowing what you’ve got to do.
At one point with Genesis we would have a celebration half-inch of Scotch each but that’s all. After a show, yeah, but I never did anything to excess and I never got into trouble because I’m too smart for that. It’s just that I’ve had kids since I was 21 and I was always faithful on the road because I was also married from the age of 21.” Collins met his first wife, Andrea Bertorelli, at stage school and they already had two children by the time Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, allowing Collins to take over the reins as singer the following year. Besides, with their bookish air and serious, complex, neo-classical rock, they were hardly a magnet for groupies.
Then, in the Eighties, he took time out to record a series of solo albums, Face Value, Hello, I Must Be Going, No Jacket Required and ...
But Seriously, which established him as one of the biggest superstars of the era.