Phil Collins’ Health: His Spinal Injury Explained & Updates – Hollywood Life

Phil Collins’ Health: How the Legendary Musician Is Doing After Spinal Injury & More

Back surgery and subsequent spinal issues have left Phil Collins more 'immobile' than ever. Here's what we know about the singer's condition.

Reading Time: 6 minutes
phil collins
Image Credit: Shutterstock

The curtain fell on the illustrious career of Phil Collins on March 26, 2022, when Phil and the other members of the rock band Genesis – bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist/guitarist Tony Banks – performed the group’s final show. Phil, 72, was not behind the drumkit for the final show due to his ongoing health issues, although he did sing with the band. Instead, his son, Nic Collins, took over and played drums for his father for what would likely be Phil’s last time on stage.

“I think at the moment, he’s definitely retired,” Nick told Rolling Stone in 2022. “If you ask me on a serious level, I think that show in London was my dad’s last show. But then again, he said that in 2004 and we wound up doing a tour in 2018. You can never be sure. But I also do think that my dad is probably excited about the next step in his life. Music has given him so much, but he’s also given so much to it. His career has pretty much determined his life for the past 50 years. I think for him to be able to take a step back and not have that pressure that he’s had for decades, I think, is going to be nice for him. For me, I think that was that, but who knows?”

However, a year later, Phil’s bandmate would say that his ongoing nerve damage had left him “more immobile” than ever. The “In the Air Tonight” singer had given up the drumming portion of his career long before the final performance, though, due to a spinal injury he had sustained fifteen years before. Here’s everything we know about his health.

Phil Collins’ Spinal Injuries

Phil Collins’ health issues began in 2007 when he dislocated vertebrae in his neck during a Genesis reunion tour. The injury caused lasting nerve damage, ultimately forcing Phil to give up drumming. “After playing drums for 50 years, I’ve had to stop,” he wrote in 2009, per Daily Mail. “My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in. It comes from years of playing. I can’t even hold the sticks properly without it being painful, I even used to tape the sticks to my hands to get through.” Despite this, he ended the message on a positive note. “Don’t worry, I can still sing.”

Phil Collins performs on stage during a concert in Berlin, Germany, June 07, 2019, as part of his ‘Not Dead Yet’ tour (Shutterstock)

“I was going to stop drumming anyway,” he told Rolling Stone in 2010. “I had stopped. I don’t miss it.” He also admitted to suicidal ideation in recent years. “I wouldn’t blow my head off,” he told RS. “I’d overdose or do something that didn’t hurt. But I wouldn’t do that to the children. A comedian who committed suicide in the Sixties left a note saying, ‘Too many things went wrong too often.’ I often think about that.”

In 2021, he gave an update on his health, saying he’s battling diabetes on top of his nerve damage. “I’m kind of physically challenged a bit, which is very frustrating because I’d love to be playing up there,” he said, per The Guardian. “I can barely hold a [drum] stick with this hand, so there are certain physical things which get in the way.”

How Long Has Phill Collins Been Injured?

Phil has struggled with physical injuries since 2007. He underwent surgery for the issue in 2009 and 2016. The latter surgery left him reliant upon a cane to get around. “I had back surgery a year ago,” he said in 2016, per NME. “I’d messed my hips up as well. That was a year ago, and, as of now, I have a dropped foot, which means I have no feeling in it. I walk with a cane, but I’m hoping that gets better.”

“I’ll never play the way I used to,” he said during that press conference. “Something happened on the Genesis reunion tour. At the end of each show, I had a drumming duel with Chester Thompson, and one night something happened. It just went. I tried everything – bigger drumsticks and so on, but it just never came back. It’s a mystery what happened, I just couldn’t get it back. But I’m 65, and I played drums since I was five. I’d like to have the choice about being able to play, but I’m not going to cry myself to sleep about it.”

Matt Collins, Orianne Collins, Phil Collins, and Nic Collins at the 4th Annual Dreaming on the Beach Gala in 2018 (Shutterstock)

 In 2017, Phil was hospitalized after falling in a hotel bathroom. “Phil suffers from ‘drop foot’ as a result of a back operation which makes it difficult to walk,” his official Facebook page said in a statement per ABC News. “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.” 

What Is Drop Foot?

Foot drop/drop foot is a “general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot. If you have foot drop, the front of your foot might drag on the ground when you walk,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s “a sign of an underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problem.”

How Is Phill Collins Doing Today?

Sadly, Phil’s condition has deteriorated even further as of 2023. “As you know, Phil is a bit… He’s much more immobile than he used to be, which is a shame, but at the tour, he was in good spirits,” said Mike Rutherford, Phil’s Genesis bandmate, in March 2023. Mike spoke with BBC Breakfast (h/t The Independent) about his upcoming Mike + the Mechanics tour, and though he spoke about Phil not being able to get around easily anymore, he did say his friend was in good spirits. “[Phil’s] fine now at home, enjoying life,” said Mike. “He’s worked so hard over the years. I think he’s enjoying his time at home.”

After Phil’s final show in March 2022, his famous daughter, Lily Collins, wrote a special tribute to the rocker. “Tonight marks the end of an era,” Lily wrote. “To have witnessed this last show was truly the memory of a lifetime and an event I shall hold in my heart forever. Endlessly grateful doesn’t begin to do it justice. So much love was left on that O2 stage and an even bigger amount shared between an audience who didn’t want it to end. Thank you Genesis for the memories and thank you dad for being such an inspiration and thank you Nic for making me the proudest sister there is. Fifty years of songs later and still generations more to celebrate you long after this tour has finished.”

Although Lily previously admitted to having “issues” with her dad after her parents divorced in 1996, they have grown closer in recent years. Their reconciliation began in 2017 when Lily penned an open letter to her famous dad, forgiving him for not being there during her younger years. “We all make choices, and although I don’t excuse some of yours, at the end of the day we can’t rewrite the past,” Lily wrote, per PEOPLE. “I’m learning how to accept your actions and vocalize how they made me feel. I now understand that my frustrations surrounding our communication are not about changing you, but accepting you as you are.”

She concluded her open letter by “forgiving” her dad for “not being the dad” she expected and “not being there” when she needed him. “There’s still so much time to move forward,” she added. “And I want to. I’m inviting you to join me. I’ll always be your little girl.” Lily being in attendance for Phil’s final show and standing by him amidst his health issues is all that more special due to their history.