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29 September, 2023
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Phil Collins performed his last ever concert in London on Saturday (video)

The Genesis legend's health has been declining for the last 15 years, his career spanned over 55 years

Source: Daily Mirror

Phil Collins has performed his last ever concert after a long health battle.

he was walking with a cane and admitted he wouldn't be able to drum - although he hoped to at least manage the famous introduction to In The Air Tonight

The 71-year-old music legend - who can no longer hold a drumstick after surgery on his back - performed with Genesis at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night.

He bid farewell to his fans and told the crowd he will now have to get a real job.

The group - which includes Phil as well as keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist-bassist Mike Rutherford - reunited for their tour, The Last Domino?, but were forced to cancel a string of shows because of Covid last year.

Phil has appeared quite frail throughout the tour, sitting down on a chair as he performed with the group for their first live dates in 14 years.

His nerve damage has stopped him from being able to play the drums whilst he also has to walk with a stick.

He recently explained how the show has been changed as he now needed to sit down.

He told The Guardian: "I don’t do anything at all. I don’t practice singing at home, not at all. Rehearsing is the practice.

"These guys are always having a go at me for not, but I have to do it this way."

"Of course, my health does change things, doing the show seated changes things," he added, explaining how he didn't feel him having to sit down got "in the way" of the show.

"But I actually found on my recent solo tours, it didn’t get in the way; the audience was still listening and responding. It’s not the way I would have written it, but it’s the way that it is."

The Genesis legend's health has been declining for the last 15 years.

He suffered an injured vertebra in his upper neck, which led to crippling nerve damage, and is also battling acute pancreatitis.

In a message published on the Genesis website, Phil explained, "Somehow, during the last Genesis tour, I dislocated some vertebrae in my upper neck and that affected my hands.

"After a successful operation on my neck, my hands still can't function normally. Maybe in a year or so it will change, but for now it is impossible for me to play drums or piano."

Insisting he wasn't 'distressed' about his prognosis, Phil retreated to Switzerland to spend time with his third and now ex-wife, Orianne Cevey, and their young sons Nick and Matt.

But that period was to become one of his darkest after his marriage collapsed and Orianne and the children moved to Miami.

Never much of a boozer, Phil said that what started as a relaxing drink while watching TV soon became a near-fatal battle with the bottle.

"Within months you're drinking vodka from the fridge in the morning and falling over in front of the kids, you know," he admitted during a 2016 press conference.

"But it was something I lived through, and I was lucky to live through it and get through it. I was very close to dying."

The harrowing situation came to a head in 2012 when he was rushed to a Swiss hospital with acute pancreatitis.

He realized he was just hours away from death when he heard the doctor ask his family if his will was in order.

"My organs were kind of f****d. It was spirits, corrosive stuff," he later admitted.

In 2013, doctors told him his pancreas was showing signs of permanent damage and he quit drinking for three years.

These days he's not as strict. “I didn’t drink for all that time but now I am quite capable of having two or three glasses of wine, saying goodnight and walking away,” he previously told The Mirror.

Happy and healthy and briefly reunited with Orianne, in 2016 he 'changed his mind' about retirement and revealed plans for five nights at London's Royal Albert Hall and dates in Cologne and Paris.

By that point, he was walking with a cane and admitted he wouldn't be able to drum - although he hoped to at least manage the famous introduction to In The Air Tonight.

Surgery to fix his spine had caused nerve damage in his foot, meaning he could no longer stand for any significant amount of time.

“I have eight screws in my back but it left my foot numb," he told The Mirror, explaining how his bad drumming posture caused his injuries.

Instead, his son Nicholas, then 15, did the drumming.

And in a nod to his ill-health, he dubbed the tour Not Dead Yet, Live.

Sadly, he was forced to cancel two of the London shows after a nasty fall in his hotel room.

"Phil suffers from 'drop foot' as a result of a back operation which makes it difficult to walk," a statement on his Facebook page said.

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