Phil Collins was born and raised in England, and is a famous drummer. But unless you are a prog-rock junkie like my buddy Jinx, you probably underestimate his body of work.
As a key member of Genesis and a solo artist, Collins has had 37 songs in the top 40, with 17 of those in the top 5 and 8 number 1s. THIRTY-SEVEN top 40 hits! I struggled to believe that, but then went down the list and said "oh yeah! oh right! oh yeah! forgot about that one! yep, I remember that! oh, that one too!" etc. So, respect to Phil Collins for his musical achievements.
But today's TMFW is not about Phil Collins' music. It is about his unusual passion for Texas history. As a kid growing up in England, Collins watched Disney's Davy Crockett shows, and he became enamored with them. In his adulthood, he loved learning about the Alamo and studied it as a hobby. After his wife gave him a piece of Alamo memorabilia one Christmas (it was a receipt for a saddle that an Alamo horseman had bought), he started a collection. "Once I had something to hang on the wall," Collins recalls, "I started to look for other things to hang on the wall." All told, Collins amassed an Alamo collection with over 200 items, including a rifle owned by Crockett himself and a Bowie knife that its namesake Jim Bowie carried during the battle. The value of Collins' stash - the largest private collection in the world - is estimated at over $10 million. Collins even wrote a book about it in 2012.
Last June, Collins announced that he would donate the majority of his collection to the Alamo site. They in turn plan to build a new museum that will house Collins' donation alongside their existing collection. In thanks for his kindness, last month the Texas state legislature formally named Collins as an "Honorary Texan."
So now you know: Phil Collins is (almost certainly) the only guy in history to simultaneously hold the titles of "Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order" and "Honorary Texan." Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
BONUS FACT: For those wishing to get their Phil Collins on after reading today's entry, here are his 8 number 1s: "Invisible Touch" (the only #1 with Genesis), "Against All Odds," "Sussudio," "One More Night," "Separate Lives" (with Marilyn Martin), "A Groovy Kind of Love," "Two Hearts," and "Another Day in Paradise." And here's a number 2 just because it's awesome: "Easy Lover" with Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire.
BONUS FACT 2: 30 years ago this year, Phil Collins played two gigs on two continents in one day, thanks to the Concorde. In July 1985, Collins played Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, then flew to New York and got to Philadelphia in time to play Live Aid there.
BONUS FACT 3: In the category of "Not True Music Facts Wednesday," despite the kid you knew in high school whose cousin was totally at the show where it happened, and despite Eminem calling it out in his song "Stan," the song "In the Air Tonight" was not written after Phil Collins witnessed a murder. And there was no front-row karmic retribution for the bad guy.
BONUS FACT 4: The Hangover franchise went off the rails pretty quickly, but the Mike Tyson mini-karaoke to "In the Air Tonight" (NSFW for lots of language) is good stuff.