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Yes, he's a Brit. Yes, he lives in Switzerland. Yes, it's weird. But yes, it's also very true.
I'm fortunate enough to have an invite to the VIP reception in addition to his limited-engagement talk. So, what should I ask a man who has an Academy Award and Eric Clapton's phone number on speed dial?
Update: My report on the event follows. Read on for more.
The actual event was very, very cool. I'd guess there were between 200 and 250 people there, fitting all descriptions. Many were members of the Dallas Historical Society. There were a number of fervent Alamo enthusiasts, and an equal number of percussion nerds; if you weren't aware, Phil Collins is a god amongst drummers.
He spent about an hour talking in roughly equal parts about his discovery of and love for the Alamo, and how he came to be one of the world's foremost collectors of Texas Revolution artifacts, his musical history, and what he's involved with today.
His Texas historical collection must be amazing. It's not just documents and cannonballs and scraps of uniforms. At his house in Switzerland, he has actual items that were in the possession of Alamo defenders when they died, including a number of items belonging to Davy Crockett. He has even gone so far as to become co-owner of a historical shop near the mission in order to sponsor an archaeological dig of that plot of land. It's wonderful to see the impact that the history of my beloved country can have on total outsiders. He was very funny and personable, always quick to make himself the butt of a joke, which is a great quality for anyone to have, especially a celebrity.
My go-to question after his talk was going to be, "Where is your Academy Award displayed?" I've always wondered if that's something that people put up on the mantle, in a special room somewhere, or whether or not it's packed away in a box. Time for questions was short, and I didn't push to get mine in because I thought I would probably get a chance to ask him at the VIP reception. He was asked a drumming question, one about his opinion on the possible demise of Crockett, and asked about advice for a young drummer.
The VIP reception was a bit of a disappointment, not because of Mr. Collins, but just because the atmosphere was not as I expected. There were probably 100 people at the VIP (tickets to which were quite pricey), and I figured with the high-brow crowd, Phil would get to have a drink and mingle and talk to people. Unfortunately, he was immediately sequestered into a corner to sign autographs for a line of fans. I felt bad for him, actually, as I'm sure doing that is a total beating and he would rather have socialized. I mean, come on, people! Cut the guy a break. I didn't want to be part of the problem in this regard, so I was content to chat with the wife and others about his talk.
All in all, it was a great experience, and he seems like a hell of a guy. Maybe next time I'll be able to get Clapton's mobile number out of him.