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Phil Collins brings his Alamo book tour to Houston

Phil Collins at a invitation-only reception and book-signing at Torch Energy Advisors Phil Collins at a invitation-only reception and book-signing at Torch Energy Advisors Dave Rossman
Phil Collins has earned a lot of titles over the years, but none came with as much surprise (even to Collins) as the one he received Wednesday evening.

In town for a reception marking the release of his new book, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey (State House Press), Collins was named an honorary admiral in the Texas Navy.

Not a bad title for someone who has received an Academy Award, seven Grammys and two Golden Globes. Actually, it was just one way Texans have shown their appreciation for Collins’ interest in Texas history.

Hosted by Torch Energy Advisors and sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and McMurry University, Collins’ visit Wednesday was part of a swing through Texas to promote the book. A portion of the proceeds raised from the $395-a-ticket event benefited TSHA.

Inside the Torch Energy offices is a collection of Texana obtained by Torch CEO and founder J.P. Bryan. It seems that over the years Collins and Bryan unknowingly crossed paths as collectors.

"I can tell you that as a collector I’ve been wondering for years who it was out there in the marketplace who was buying these items I was trying to get my hands on," Bryan said. "And I was told by a dealer, ‘Someday you’ll find out.’ And I was shocked to find out it was a guy from across the pond."

Collins recounted his introduction to all things Alamo through Fess Parker’s portrayal of Davy Crockett on television.

"It struck a nerve, it struck a chord with me," he said.

His collection started in the mid-1990s when an ex-wife bought him a saddle and bridle receipt for John W. Smith. During the Alamo siege, Smith was given a bundle of letters written by the Alamo defenders to give to their families. Included in that bundle was a letter from William Barret Travis to Sam Houston seeking aid and reinforcements.

Since then, Collins’ collection has expanded to include Houston’s Bowie knife, Crockett’s signed autobiography, and a sword he says was used by James Butler Bonham at the Alamo.


Some questions and answers were cut from the Q&A I did with Collins. Here are some questions that didn’t make Saturday’s paper.

Q: Is there any piece in your collection that holds a special significance to you?
A: There are plenty that fill me with awe. The Crockett pieces from the de la Pena family, even the accompanying note from Aunt Tula! I’ve recently acquired the draft battle orders written by Col. Amador on March 5th, written while Santa Anna dictated them. They are quite chilling and obviously gripping.

As I’ve mentioned before, John W. Smith’s saddle receipt is one of my favorite pieces. Written just before the battle of San Jacinto. He needed the cash and that in itself is a reality check.

Q: How does this work fit into your career as a musician? Is your music career in the background now?
A: Since my medical issue, I have basically retired. I can’t do what I did as well as I used to, so I’ve stopped. Plus, I have these other interests.

Also, bringing up my young boys (11 and 7) is of maximum importance to me. I missed it with my older kids, and I’m 61. You only get one chance with this stuff…..then their off and driving, girlfriends…..and you have to book an appointment!

Q: What are your long-term plans for your collection?
A: Still working on that issue. I’d like to keep it in one place. It’s a work in progress.

© chron, by J.R. Gonzales
Last modified onFriday, 11 May 2012 19:05

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