Phil Collins names his favourite jazz drummers of all time

Genesis has written half of its most important songs about pushing the limits of what rock & roll might do. The band’s second career as hitmakers may be what most remember them for today, but on albums like Foxtrot, the band led by Peter Gabriel produced some of the most innovative rock music ever recorded in the 1970s. Nevertheless, Phil Collins was equally eager to explore fields other than rock and roll.

Collins was the group’s second lead vocalist, although at first, he was hesitant to get up from behind his drum stool and start singing. In the end, Collins provided a wonderful middle ground between Gabriel’s tone of voice and a little bit more grit in his delivery, even though the band had a lot of different vocalists come in to audition for the part.

Even while Collins is frequently held primarily responsible for the band’s decision to choose a pop route, his time behind the mike nevertheless included plenty of exciting twists. Collins seems carefree as he flies up and down the kit and weaves together intricate time signatures on albums like A Trick of the Tail, only to have a major pop success with “Follow You Follow Me” a few albums later.

But when it came to his influences, Collins’ taste went much beyond classic rock & roll. Even though Collins sang lyrical about the likes of Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts, he was equally enthralled with the sounds of jazz drummers like Buddy Rich in his youth. Rich, whose characteristic delivery is so powerful, might have been a heavy metal drummer years before the genre even existed, even though he came from the swing world.

Collins praised Rich’s technique and called him one of the best drummers he had ever seen, about the same time the British Invasion began. Collins’s foundation in jazz included more than simply swing, even though at the same time he was becoming interested in musicians like John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

Beyond the swing sphere, Collins harbored a deep respect for Tony Williams, who at the time was well-known for his collaborations with artists such as Miles Davis. Williams consistently made the art of the drum fill captivating, despite Collins’s claims that he detested drum solos, stating to Modern Drummer, “I can watch Tony Williams do a drum solo because it will blow me away. Either you got it or you ain’t. That’s what it boils down to.”

It wasn’t long until both jazz and rock clashed to produce fusion, given their importance in the musical output. Collins has long admired Steve Gadd’s skill behind the kit, even amidst the incredible bands that have emerged from the new genre, such as Weather Report. A fixture of the session circuit, Gadd is renowned for his contributions to a wide range of classic songs. He is best recognized for recording one of the all-time great drum solos on Steely Dan’s seminal album Aja.

Collins listened to a lot of jazz, but it all influenced his compositions. As a result, even when the band recorded songs in unusual time signatures, Collins’ music retained its distinctive swing. Collins’s strength was equaled only by his jazz vocabulary, even though he could hit like a rock and roll drummer.

Phil Collins’ favorite jazz drummers:

  1. Buddy Rich
  2. Tony Williams
  3. Steve Gadd

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