During a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Collins talked about an encounter with Paul McCartney that left him feeling so slighted he still hasn’t let go of it more than a decade later.
“I met him when I was working at the Buckingham Palace party back in 2002. McCartney came up with Heather Mills,” he recalled. “I had a first edition of The Beatles by Hunter Davies, and I said, ‘Hey Paul, do you mind signing this for me?’ And he said, ‘Oh Heather, our little Phil’s a bit of a Beatles fan.’ And I thought, ‘You f—, you f—.’ Never forgot it.”
“McCartney was one of my heroes. But he has this thing when he’s talking to you,” he continued. “He makes you feel [like], ‘I know this must be hard for you, because I’m a Beatle. I’m Paul McCartney and it must be very hard for you to actually be holding a conversation with me.’”
In 2011 the former Genesis frontman had decided to retire from music. He found himself bored and alone following the divorce of his third wife. Collins reportedly never previously suffered from a reliance on alcohol, but says he started drinking heavily. He says he initially justified the drinking by believing “I deserved a break in my life where I could do anything, whatever I wanted.”
In a separate extract from his new memoir Not Dead Yet, he writes: “It took me until the age of 55 to become an alcoholic. I got through the heady 1960s, the trippy 1970s, the imperial 1980s, the busy 1990s. I was retired, content, and then I fell. Because I suddenly had too much time on my hands.”
The afternoon glass of wine turned into a couple of bottles. Before long it was vodka straight from the bottle for breakfast. Eventually he ended up in a Swiss intensive care with acute pancreatitis.
A recent study of more than 9,000 people, concluded that drinking among the over-50s had become a hidden “middle-class” phenomenon, with the higher somebody’s income the more at risk they are.