Phil Collins: Geneva’s Favorite (Adopted) Son

Events, Travel Tips, What's New — By Sonja Holverson on February 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm

There have been many famous foreign people and celebrities living in Switzerland throughout history for various reasons. More recently, focus has been put on tax advantages for celebrities, but face it, this is a jaw-dropping-beautiful country with no Swiss Paparazzi. Discrete and awe-inspiring Lake Geneva is especially attractive to the famous throughout the ages such as Voltaire, Lord Byron, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Freddie Mercury and we are pleased that Lake Geneva was chosen as home by Phil Collins. Collins has been quoted as saying “I never complained about paying taxes in England. They cannot take more than half anyway, and half of a lot is still enough.”

Lake Geneva along the city shores. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Markus Bernet

February 15th, was the 5th annual unofficial “Phil Collins Day” which was celebrated this year with the first ever “Phil Collins Day Parade” in New York (well, Brooklyn).  Therefore, this blog will honor our favorite neighbor in Lake Geneva, Phil Collins, who just turned 60 this year on January 30.

Phil Collins Day Parade in New York: Image courtesy of The Brooklyn Paper by Aaron Short

Apparently the parade in the borough was organized to the point of having about 300 fans participating with decorated floats, bands, dancers and some questionable automobile roof-standing arrangements that were not appreciated by the local police. Look for it next February 15. It starts at 7:30 PM at Franklin and Green (Greenpoint) and ends at Shayz Lounge, a historical Irish Pub where you can get a Phil Collins cocktail and a good slice of pizza.

Phil Collins, at Home on the shores of Lake Geneva: Image courtesy of

English-born Philip David Charles Collins has lived on Lake Geneva since the late 1990s and is much beloved by the locals. He opened the Montreux Jazz Festival last July (concert video to see what you missed!) and the tickets were sold out almost immediately (and at a quite high price). Plan ahead this year; tickets sales for the Montreux Jazz Festival usually start in April.

Growing up Collins was a part of the youth who were seeing radical changes in music in the 60s with Beatle mania followed by more progressive rock. Singer-songwriter, musician and actor, he plays the drums, piano, guitar, and keyboards.  Collins joined the now iconic group Genesis in 1970 and when Peter Gabriel left in 1975, he became the lead singer – all while playing drums for a jazz fusion group called Brand X during the late 1970s. Collins had a great influence on the musical direction that Genesis was taking in the 1980s with his love of R&B.

Phil Collins had already produced solo albums since 1981 but did not actually leave Genesis until 1996 when he formed another group, The Phil Collins Big Band which played for the then newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela with Tony Bennet as guest vocalist. Quincy Jones conducted the Big Band and they played a summer of jazz festivals including 2 sold-out performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

No one will forget Live Aid 1985 and Phil Collins was there with the best of them performing “Against All Odds”.

Incorporating a humorous story into a hit music video, Collins and the legendary Genesis put out “I Can’t Dance” in 1991.

In September 2002, Collins announced his retirement from touring. He was awarded the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the 34th Annual Award and Inductions Ceremony in New York City in 2003.

Not everyone can be Phil Collins fans but no matter what kind of music you like, you cannot deny that he was the drummer genius from Genesis and here is evidence of that at a battle of the drums during his First Final Farewell Tour in Paris. The complete world tour lasted from 2004 through 2005.

The end of the road? Image courtesy of

The Genesis Come Back Tour started in 2007. Here was a group that originally formed in the 1960s and has sold 150 million albums worldwide which makes them amongst the top 30 best selling groups. Being away from his family in Lake Geneva was hard on Collins.

Back to his home on the shores of Lake Geneva, Collins was not finished with music and although his work had been produced by labels like Virgin, and Atlantic, he wanted to work with Motown and relive his favorite songs of his youth with “Going Back” which was produced in 2009.

Today when he’s not trying to maintain a long distance romance with CBS TV news anchor, Dana Tyler and caring for his sons, he’s co-authoring a book which should be out next year. About his music you think? His life? No! When Collins was a young lad he was fascinated with the Wild Wild West of the US and has collected a great deal of memorabilia, books, letters, and documents. He’s going to write a Western from the shores of Lake Geneva!

For more about Switzerland and its famous residents follow me on Twitter.

Image upper right corner courtesy of

Tags: Atlantic, Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Freddie Mercury, Genesis, Lake Geneva, Lord Byron, Motown, music, singer, Switzerland, Virgin, Voltaire, “Montreux Jazz Festival”, “Phil Collins”

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