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5 Things You Didn't Know About "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins

Updated: Feb 9

This song was released in 1981 of Phil’s debut album, Face Value. The song hit number 2 in England (John Lennon’s Woman kept it from number 1) but didn’t fair as well in the US, only peaking at 19. However, this is Phil’s signature song and is well know for the gated drum pattern at about the halfway point. There are very few “air drummers” that can resist the 5 second fill.


The song retained its popularity through the 80's due to it’s use in movies and TV shows, most notably Miami Vice.



1. The song is not about a person drowning. According to Phil Collins, the song is one huge improvisation. He says he was going through a divorce with his wife at the time and was filled with anger that translated to the page. We think the “drowning lyric is a metaphor for the relationship dissolving and nothing either one could do about it.


2. The iconic drum fill in the at about he mid point of the song was never planned. They recorded several takes and one of them had the fill, they just decided to use that one.


3. The entire five and a half minutes of the song is played in the pilot of Miami Vice and is cited as one of the most influential moments in TV history.


4. Phil, also a member of the mega group Genesis, offered the song to guys in the band but they turned it down as they said it was too simple. Who knew? Tony Banks is on record saying he doesn't remember the conversation.


5. Phil Collins played this song at Live Aid in the summer of 1985 "live" at both Wembley stadium in London and also in Philadelphia. He flew on the Concord from Heathrow to JFK (3-hour flight) which was the only way it could be done.

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