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Phil Collins: You ask the questions

Phil Collins: You ask the questionsSuch as: so, can you still feel it coming in the air tonight? And is it really true that you are going deaf?

Phil Collins was born in Chiswick, west London in 1951. He attended the Barbara Speake Stage School and, at 14, played the Artful Dodger in a West End production of Oliver!. In 1970, he joined the pop group Genesis as drummer, later becoming lead singer. He went on to record 16 albums with the band. In 1981, he released his first solo single, "In the Air Tonight". His solo albums include Face Value and But Seriously. In 1988, he starred in the film Buster. He lives in Geneva with his third wife, Orianne, and their son Nicholas.

How are you enjoying being a father for the fourth time? Are there plans for a fifth? - Gilly Fielding, Fareham

There are plans for a fifth. I am loving it. My wife Orianne and I have a wonderful little boy, Nicholas, who is 17 months old. I am experiencing fatherhood again a generation later. My eldest daughter Jolie is 30, Simon is 26, Lydia is 13 and now Nicholas – so I am a father across many age groups. When I was young, people of 51 were old, but now I am 51, it doesn't seem old. I don't think about whether it's more tiring. I just enjoy it.

Is it true you're going deaf? - Ben Carey, by e-mail

No, I am not going deaf. Two years ago I was struck by a viral infection in my inner left ear and that situation has not changed. I lost partial hearing and it has not got any better, or worse. It is not serious. Other people are far more worried about it than me. I'd love to have my hearing back, but things could be worse. The doctors say it is nothing to do with age – things wearing out – and nothing to do with being a drummer, because my other ear is fine. It's bad luck. It could happen to a bus conductor.

What's Geneva got that west London hasn't? Any plans to move back to England? - Barbara Watts, Hartlepool

I am not a deserter. It is not like that. My wife Orianne lived in Switzerland when I met her and I moved there because I fell in love with her. If she had lived in Hounslow, the west-London borough where I grew up, I'd be living in Hounslow. I have no plans to move back to England.

You're famous for your autobiographical lyrics. Is the same true for the new album, Testify? - Catherine Pettifor, by e-mail

Yes, there are a lot of songs on there about kids and where I am in my life at this age. When you're listening to an album, you should know more about the person who has written it by the time you have finished listening to it. The new songs are very autobiographical.

Didn't you have a conspiracy theory about Diana's death? What do you reckon five years on? - Paul Ives, Stoke-on-Trent

Oooooh... I don't think that's for me to say because I have a relationship with Prince Charles and The Prince's Trust. I'm not going to say too much about this other than I think there is more to Diana's death than meets the eye. We do not know the whole truth. I merely mentioned my opinion among friends and the next thing I had Al Fayed on the telephone. I was on tour when it happened. He found me and contacted my press lady. He said I hear you think it is a conspiracy and wanted to use me for something. I didn't speak to him. I just got his messages.

Seeing as your personal life has been off the front pages for a few years now, can we assume it is going well? - Lizzie Stone, Leamington

Yes, everything is beautiful. I am very, very happy. And I am very happy I am not on the front page of any newspapers. It wasn't very nice. A lot of it was rubbish and speculation. The trouble is I get shown everything. The untruths surrounding my marriage breaking up and being with Orianne (who is now my wife) and all the things relating to it were hellish.

What do you make of the pop charts nowadays? What was the last single you bought? - Simon Barnes, London

I can't keep up with the charts. It changes too quickly. We have music television on around the house because my son Nicholas likes it – I mean he's only 17 months but he really responds to music – so I know what Kylie Minogue does now. I've got a soft spot for Robbie Williams.

What social issues are weighing on your conscience at the moment? - Sandra Jones, by e-mail

I can't see an end to what is happening in the Middle East. It is a seemingly impossible situation. Half the time it is based on religion. One of my pet bugs is that people still kill each other because of religious beliefs. I wish enough people could stand back from it and see what the logical conclusion is to this. It is all related to political lies.

Can you still feel it coming in the air tonight? - Julia Stiles, Norwich

Yes, frequently.

Are there any more acting roles in the pipeline, or are you planning to stick with music? - Herman Stein, London

I keep being asked when I am going to do another film. There is nothing in the pipeline. Right now, I am doing quite a few things with Disney, like making Tarzan into a musical. (I also wrote the music for the film Tarzan in 1999.) It is time-consuming; I have got to write more songs, and I have a young family who I want to be at home with – but I am not saying I will never act again. It is just about prioritising.

You are always trying to give your money away. Do you have a problem with being rich? - Jonnie Barrie, Hounslow

I don't have a problem with being rich, no. I just want to keep things in perspective and try to put something back. There are people out there who can be helped with the equivalent of the price of an Armani jumper. Why not help them, rather than buy the Armani jumper?

Can you dance? - Rene Douglas, Chichester

Not very well. I dance really well for two or three minutes, and then I've peaked.

Phil, I'm 18 and a big fan of yours. All my friends laugh at me and tell me I'm really sad. Would you consider becoming a bit cooler? - Finn Sanderson, by e-mail

Sad. I don't know what to say. It's your problem, not mine.

Any plans to turn your greatest hits into a musical à la We Will Rock You and Our House? - Pinny James, High Wycombe

No. Putting Tarzan on stage is the closest I will get to a musical.

Is there any chance that you'll forsake chart success for a return to the more adventurous drumming of your earlier years, as evidenced in the fusion band Brand X, for example? - Andrew Clarke, by e-mail

No, there is no chance of me going back to that. My 21st-century version of Brand X is My Big Band. If you want to check out the more adventurous side of the drumming then take a look at that. It is a grown up version of Brand X.

© The Independent

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