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Phil Collins in Buffalo Gap?

Phil Collins in Buffalo Gap?When singer Phil Collins shows up somewhere, it's usually with a red carpet and horde of paparazzi attached.

So last week, following a series of Collins sightings in and around Buffalo Gap, the rumor mill understandably got to churning.

What was the ex-Genesis leader doing in this unassuming corner of the country? Hobnobbing with oil barons? Plotting a secret concert? Buying Taylor County whole?

The answer is stranger still than any of that.

Collins, as it turns out, is a serious aficionado of the Alamo and Texas revolutionary history. He has amassed an extensive collection of Texas artifacts — from historical weapons and clothing to 19th-century documents.

In March 2012, Collins plans to put a book on his collectiontitled, "The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey."

His publisher, Statehouse Press, is based out of Buffalo Gap. So when Collins showed up in town Jan. 2, it was to hammer out some of the design details for the volume.

"We worked him pretty hard," says Don Frazier, president and CEO of the McWhiney Foundation, which owns Statehouse.

According to Frazier, Collins actually sought out the company to publish the book, having heard some recommendations from contacts in San Antonio. It was one of the more unexpected phone calls Frazier has ever fielded.

"We said, 'Phil Collins? OK,' " Frazier says with a laugh. "We knew he had an interest in (the Texas Revolution), but we had no idea about the extent of his collection."

Besides getting the book out there, Frazier says he and the company's creative team are there to help contribute some historical background to the work. Collins no doubt has the enthusiasm — his interest in Texas first got piqued by watching Disney TV Westerns as a lad. But when it comes to professional scholarship, a rock 'n' roll star can always use a bit of backup.

"He takes a great hand in all of his creative projects, from his music to this," Frazier says. "We wanted him to come out and introduce him to the team."

Of course, Collins also got a taste of the region, enjoying food from Perini Ranch Steakhouse and a catered spread from Clyde's Bonterra Blu.

Meanwhile, work on the book will continue up until its publication date. Which means that more visits to the Big Country might be in order.

So keep an eye out for bald British men. There's more of them interested in Texas than one might imagine.

© Reporternews, by Jeremy Goldmeier

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