In the Air Tonight

Milan, 2023

Have you heard the Phil Collins story? You know, the everyman drummer with a Protestant work ethic who became the frontman for Genesis, that British prog rock group? Or perhaps you know him as the solo act responsible for “You’ll be in my Heart” from Disney’s Tarzan soundtrack?

I’m not referring to the rumour that in 1994, he divorced his second wife Jill via fax, his preferred mode of communication at the time. Nor am I talking about the meaning behind that can of paint that rested on his drum machine both times he played “In the Air Tonight” on Top of the Pops, bookending his 1980s with a heartbroken message to his first ex-wife Andrea after he walked in on her getting a good rogering from their interior decorator.

No, I’m talking about an earlier version, a Phil Collins in the making who, when that first marriage fell apart in 1979, decamped to Los Angelees with me, an artist friend that he and the boys liked to call Slipperman back in the salad days of prog. And we found ourselves spending legendarily hazy nights on the Sunset Strip, with Phil chasing women and me embarrassing him in the process with my mythmaking and one too many Lewis Carroll references. And on this particular night, as Phil was following a Playboy Bunny down a k-hole, we agreed to reconvene at Point Dume for our usual cleanse in the Pacific. And though Phil’s solo adventure called for a pretence of privacy back in his penthouse suite, we both knew that through an oblique portal in the ceiling of the master bedroom, I could gaze upon Phil’s tryst from above.

Special thanks to:

Lorenzo Bassetti

Alessandro Enginoli

Luca Rivelli