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Phil Collins shares fixation on The Alamo at Fair Park

Phil Collins shares fixation on The Alamo at Fair ParkRock singer-songwriter Phil Collins is no stranger to Dallas, having performed here solo and with his band Genesis. But he retired from touring in 2004, and his appearance at the Hall of State in Fair Park on Monday had nothing to do with music. Instead he was there at the behest of Dallas Historical Society life trustee Lindalyn Adams to talk about his interest in The Alamo.

For about an hour, he explained in a conversation co-moderated by Adams and local squire Angus Wynne why a musician from England who now lives in Switzerland would be enchanted with a tourist spot in San Antonio. If you read any of the previews in the local press (the DMN alone did a preposterous three separate pieces), you would've known the spiel: he was entranced by Davy Crockett as a child; he owns one of the biggest collections of Alamo memorabilia in the world; he met Adams in 1982 in the Virgin Islands, and she thought Genesis was a religious group.

The actual information conveyed during his appearance seemed less significant than the fact that he was willing to come to Dallas and recite it. His tales of collecting saddles and cannonballs were heightened by his low-key charm. It didn't hurt that he was telling them to a rapt audience of about 300 people who were willing to chuckle enthusiastically at any comment that even resembled a joke.

His Alamo adventures included buying a property in San Antonio where he funded a dig in search of artifacts. Nothing turned up. Most of his collection is in the basement of his Switzerland home. "It's all very well insured, although how do you insure something like that?" he asked rhetorically.

Having a narrow field such as "The Alamo" as a collector gives you an advantage, he said; once the collecting world realizes you are serious about pursuing that one slice, they're more inclined to let you know about new items on the market, and more willing to sell them because they know you have a worthy collection.

"I never sell," he said. "I give these things a home."

The last quarter hour or so was devoted to his musical career -- "we're all fans," Adams said, before steering the discussion to his recent soundtrack for the Disney film Tarzan.

"Elton John had just made a big soundtrack for Lion King, and so they asked me to do Tarzan," he said. "Sting had a lot of trouble. He's not very good in a team. I can say that. He'd say it. He said they asked him, and I said, 'They ask you to change things.' He said, 'Change things??' I said, 'You sit around a table with 10 other people and they've all go a better idea than you do.'"

He talked about his family including three ex-wives, all of whom he gets along with, and five children, including daughter Lily an actress who recently appeared in The Blind Side; and two young sons, Nicholas and Matthew, for whom he's been a diligent father, doing "normal" things like taking them to school every day.

But under the urging of his manager, Collins did a covers record of songs from the '60s which will be out in September, whereupon he'll do six shows in Philadelphia and New York that will be recorded for a DVD.

He ended with the admission that he'd never done anything like this. "So I apologize if you're disappointed," he said.

© Pegasusnews, by Teresa Gubbins

A Conversation With Phil Collins

When you think of Phil Collins, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not the Alamo. But the shrine of Texas independence was precisely why Collins was in Dallas Monday evening for a talk to the Dallas Historical Society.

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