Phil Collins the taxi driver

Richard Branson with Phil Collins
Image by Virgin Records
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 2 November 2015

Great to see Phil Collins has come out of retirement. I cannot wait to hear what he has in store for us. I’m sure it will be wonderfully creative.

Phil and yours truly go way back. We signed Phil to Virgin Records, when he decided to branch out from Genesis. We had a lot of fun in those days, as he made a name for himself as one of the biggest male solo artists of all time. 

On one occasion, in the early 1980s, I had to go to a meeting with investors in London and was running late. I jumped in a taxi, with the intention to use the time in the car to go over some paperwork. But the taxi driver had other plans. Looking at me in the rear-view mirror he said, “I know you. You're that Dick Branson. You've got a record label. Well, isn't it my lucky day. Fancy having Mr Branson in my cab.”

Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight

He went on to tell me how he was a drummer in a band, and offered to play me his demo tape. I had got used to people finding imaginative ways to play me their tapes, but this was a new one! Not wanting to be rude, I told him that I’d love to hear his music. “No, you look tired” he replied. “Tell you what, my mum lives around the corner. She'd love to make you a cup of tea, let’s drop in on her.”

After a little protesting and a lot of explaining my situation, I gave in. As we reached the house, he put on the tape anyway. My ears pricked, as the words “I can feel it, coming in the air tonight…” came over the speakers.

The driver turned around, and it was Phil Collins. Fond of playing pranks on other people, I found the experience hilarious – he got me good! Had he really been an unsigned artist, I would have signed him on the spot.

a black and white picture of Richard Branson on a pub sign doing cheers with a pint pot
Image by Virgin.com

One of my other favourite Phil Collins songs is Sussudio. I still enjoy watching the music video, which was filmed at a pub I owned at the time, The Princess Victoria in Shepherds Bush, in London.

Phil Collins - Sussudio

I’m sure Phil will come out with many more great hits now he is back in the music industry.