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How Phil Collins learned to play the drums when he was a kid

Phil Collins


How Phil Collins learned to play the drums when he was a kid

The drummer, singer and songwriter Phil Collins was born in Wandsworth, London, England in 1951 and started his musical career at an early age. He fell in love with music when he was still a kid and learned how to play the drums not long after.


His parents gave him a drum toy when he was just about three or four and when he was about five years-old, his uncle made him a drum kit. He practiced for years with that set until he had the chance to buy a real drum kit a few years later.

That was the start of the journey of a man who would become a really successful drummer and singer. One of the few artists who sold an estimated amount of more than 100 million records worldwide. Not only as a solo act, but also as a member of Genesis. But how did Phil Collins learn to play the drums?

How Phil Collins learned to play the drums when he was a kid:

Well, like many legendary musicians, it was a mix of natural talent, desire and a lot of practice that made Phil Collins the incredible drummer he became. He learned how to play by himself and a few years later took some classes to learn how to read music. But he didn’t really develop a particular style because he was learning by ear how to play. Collins used to play along with the television or the records. So he played like the drummer was playing in the track, but still sounded like him.

That was really important for Collins because it showed him many different styles and made him a really versatile musician. In an interview with John Edginton back in 2014 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he recalled his journey of learning how to play.”When you’re growing up in the 50s, which is hard to sort of understand probably now if you’re a kid, growing up in this era. But back then you got a soldier, a toy, you know. In my instance I got a toy drum and I can remember,”

“I was only 3, I think, but I can remember my kind of shutter went off when I got this drum. I can remember the instance, you know. (There is) a lot of infant stuff you forget obviously over the years but I can remember this instant.”

Phil Collins continued:

Phil Collins when he was a kid

“I was given a drum by my uncle, sort of family uncles, they weren’t really uncles. Apparently I took to it, so I played with it. Then a couple of years later I had taken to it so much that my uncles made me a drum kit which fitted in a suitcase, you know.”

“And I used to sit in the living room and play this along with the television. So somewhere in there the bug was taken. It was kind of extraordinary, Pop music as such. I mean, The Beatles (still didn’t exist). My sister was a big record listener, (she used to listen to) Neil Sedaka, Tommy Steele. My brother was a Jim Reeves fan, so there was music one way or the other in the house.

He bought his first proper drum kit at the age of 12

The musician continued explaining that his parents were part of a boat club located in the Thames river. So when he was about 12 years-old, he used to play the drums there. At that time he already had a proper drum kit.

“(I had practice) so much that when it came to my birthday I sold my brother’s train set I found out. I thought it was my train set but he then reminded me that (it belonged to him). So I made the ultimate sacrifice and sold that and my mom put the rest. (Then) I bought my first drum kit.

“So it’s always been there, from the age of 5, seriously, to the age of 12, getting a proper drum kit. Then playing in my school bands, we used to play Motown stuff, Otis Redding stuff. I used to sing a bit from behind the drums, (but) we had a singer as well. So it’s always been kind of in my life”.

“I’ve learned how to play listening to records. So if it was a Who record, I would be playing like Keith Moon. If was a Kinks record, I would be playing like Mick Avory. If it was The Hollies, I would be playing like Bobby Elliott. I kind of worshiped all the drummers in different bands,” Phil Collins said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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