Phil Collins’ health now? The musician has been on tour with his bandmates despite his ongoing health challenges

Phil Collins

As ‘Genesis’ hit the road again, Phil Collins’s declining health was apparent in his most recent appearance. The seventy-one-year-old former drummer remained seated throughout the band’s Berlin concert on March 7, 2022, as they put on a memorable show.

Despite his ongoing health complications, Collins reunited with his bandmates to perform together to wrap up the band’s successful 54-year career and, in his own words, to finally ‘put it to bed’. Currently, Phil walks with the support of a cane and is occasionally seen in a wheelchair.

Key Takeaways

  • Phil had undergone two surgeries since 2009 for a dislocated vertebra in his upper neck that has left him with lasting nerve damage affecting his arms and feet.
  • As a result of the nerve damage, Phil can no longer play the drums and also has difficulty walking.
  • Phil has struggled with other health complications such as diabetes, foot fractures, and alcoholism, and admitted to having suicidal thoughts in the early 2010s.

The lasting nerve damage from Phil’s back surgeries have left him unable to play the drums

Phil Collins performs live on stage during a concert at Mercedes Benz Arena 2022 | Photo by Gina Wetzler/Redferns Via Getty Images

In October 2021, Genesis was all set to hit the road for their first tour in fourteen years and fans were gladly anticipating their return. At the same time, Phil’s declining health did not go unnoticed as promotional events for ‘The Last Domino?’ tour kept him in the limelight.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on September 9, 2021, a month before the tour began, Collins talked about his health issues that emerged from surgery for his back injury in 2009. When asked about his drumming skills now, Collins honestly answered that while he would love to play the drums, he could “barely hold a stick” with his hand.

“There are certain physical things that get in the way,” he added.

His frank statement, however, sparked concerns among fans about the extent of his health issues. Confirming that his drumming days were behind him, Collins said that his twenty-year-old son, Nicholas, who is another drummer in the family, would be replacing him and taking over the drums in the tour. He said;

“I am kind of physically challenged a bit which is very frustrating because I would love to be playing up there with my son.”

According to NME, he remained optimistic about his son’s drumming skills as he said;

“He plays a bit like me when he wants to. I’m one of his many influences, being his dad. He plays like me and he kinda has the same attitude as me, so that was a good starter.”

While Phil may not be playing the drums on his shows, the band’s ongoing concerts indicate that he can still perform just as well by singing the vocals, even as he remains seated.

Phil had undergone two surgeries in 2009 and 2015 respectively for a dislocated vertebra in his neck that was injured during the 2007 Genesis tour

Phil Collins

Following Genesis’ intensive ‘Turn It On Again’ tour in 2007, Collins had injured his vertebrae that subsequently required surgery in 2009. In a statement published on Genesis’ website on September 10, 2009, he wrote;

“There isn’t any drama regarding my ‘disability’ and playing the drums. Somehow during the last Genesis tour, I dislocated some vertebrae in my upper neck and that affected my hands.”

At the time, Collins added that the operation on his neck was successful but his hands had yet to function normally as the nerve damage resulting from the surgery seems to have affected his ability to grip objects.

“Maybe in a year or so it will change, but for now it is impossible for me to play drums or piano. I am not in any ‘distressed’ state, stuff happens in life,” said Collins as he initially remained unfazed about the grim prognosis.

However, the situation did not improve over the years as he underwent another back surgery in 2015. In a 2016 interview with Billboard, Collins mentioned that the back surgery he had was “great” and “problem-free”. But he touched on the undiagnosed nerve condition of his arms, especially his left arm that was more affected, saying;

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be fit enough to play the drums again on tour. My left arm has changed – it’s a neural thing.”

Furthermore, Collins detailed other unfortunate health issues after his surgery that included multiple fractures on his foot;

“But then when I was recovering on crutches, I fell and fractured my foot. When I recovered from foot surgery, I fell again and fractured another part of the same foot. My right foot now is completely numb. It could be a year or three months to get feeling back-I have no idea.”

Aside from his nerve condition, Phil is also diagnosed with diabetes and has ‘drop foot’ due to his back surgery

In January 2017, Collins was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and had to cancel a performance at the Centrepoint Gala after his foot became infected.

“I have Type 2 Diabetes, and without going into the gory detail I got an abscess on my foot that went septic. I was told to spend a week in the hyperbaric chamber,” he told The Independent.

Just a few months after his foot infection, Collins met with an accident in his hotel room while on tour and was rushed to the hospital. Hence, causing him to postpone and reschedule two shows in London that were a part of his ‘Not Yet Dead’ tour in early June.

In a Facebook statement made by Phil’s team, it was made known that he suffers from ‘drop foot’ (a condition that causes difficulty in lifting one’s front foot) as a result of his 2015 back operation and has difficulty walking due to the aforementioned condition.

“He rose in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and slipped in his hotel room, hitting his head in the fall on a chair. He was taken to hospital where he had stitches for a severe gash on his head close to his eye and is recovering well. He will be kept under observation for 24 hours,” detailed the statement.

In the early 2010s, Phil struggled with suicidal thoughts and spiraled into self-destructive alcoholism that caused him acute pancreatitis

Phil Collins

In a brutally honest interview with Rolling Stone in March 2011, Phil admitted that his cumulative injuries during his career and public criticism of his personal and professional life over the years have left him in a vulnerable state of mind. He confessed to having suicidal thoughts and imagined scenarios in his head that would lead him to it;

“I sometimes think, ‘I’m going to write this Phil Collins character out of the story. Phil Collins will just disappear or be murdered in some hotel bedroom, and people will say, ‘What happened to Phil?’ And the answer will be, ‘He got murdered, but, yeah, anyway, let’s carry on.’ That kind of thing.”

Though it was a disturbing thought process, he reasoned that he would not act on his suicidal tendencies for the sake of his children.

 “I have had suicidal thoughts. I wouldn’t blow my head off. I’d overdose or do something that didn’t hurt. But I wouldn’t do that to the children,” he said.

Understandably, the early 2010s was a dark phase in Collins’s life as he had retired from music due to his injuries and had also been separated from his wife and children. He told the BBC that he descended into alcoholism to cope with the “gaping void” in his life;

“I had no work and no family. I felt like I had earned myself a break – to do nothing if that was what I wanted to do. So I would turn on the TV and watch a bit of sport and, you know, you just start drinking too much. So I think it was just filling the hole. Now I’m back with my family, so there’s a bit more normality now.”

After battling acute pancreatitis for 18 hours in intensive care in a Swiss hospital and a brief stint in rehab, Phil finally decided to quit drinking and get sober after his pancreas started showing signs of permanent damage.

Talking about the ordeal, he admitted that he was very close to dying but “it was something [he] lived through” and considered himself lucky for getting through it. Today, Phil limits himself to a glass or two of wine occasionally and has been sober since 2013.