The similarities between Phil Collins’ 1985 charttopper "Sussudio" and Prince’s earlier Top 15 1982 hit "1999" are undeniable — even to Collins himself, it turns out. Daryl Stuermer, a regular Collins sideman, takes us inside the sessions for No Jacket Required, held 30 years ago this month.
"Many people thought the song ‘Sussudio’ mimicked Prince’s song ‘1999,’ Stuermer tells Chris Williams of Soul Culture. "Phil never ran away from that idea. He said he was definitely influenced by that song. He was a huge fan of Prince."
Stuermer, who began working with Phil Collins as a touring member of Genesis, ultimately co-wrote three of the songs on No Jacket Required, playing guitar on every track and adding keyboards on another. He worked with Collins from the first on constructing this breakthrough release, arriving at the sessions for "Sussudio" when the song was in a very raw form.
At that point, Stuermer says, the resemblance with Prince’s track was even more pronounced.
"I remember when I first had the demo for ‘Sussudio,’ there wasn’t a bass part on the song at all," he says. "The bass line in the song changed how it first sounded, so it actually ended up sounded less like ‘1999’ after the bass line was laid down. It was a synthesizer bass line [performed by David Frank, of the System]. There were great horn parts on the record too. The horn section was arranged by a guy named Thomas Washington [of Earth Wind and Fire fame]."
As for Phil Collins’ non-sensical title? "The word ‘Sussudio’ was a made up word," Stuermer adds, "because he thought later on he would come up with an actual song title for the song that made sense, but ended up just leaving it in there — and it worked."
Did it ever. "Sussudio" topped the Billboard charts as the lead single for No Jacket Required, helping set the stage for Collins’ biggest-solo outing ever. The album eventually went 12-times platinum in the U.S. alone.
© Something Else!, by Nick DeRiso