Phil Collins held a press conference on the grounds of the Alamo, accompanied by his unlikely pal Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson—who declared the occasional Genesis frontman and massively successful solo artist to be “normal” when introducing him—in which the two of them laid out some of the details of Collins’ donation of his massive collection of Texas Revolution artifacts.
Collins declared early on in the conference that “I’m not really here to talk about music,” and spent a substantial amount of time in front of a large crowd discussing his love of the Alamo and his history with it (which senior editor John Spong expertly chronicled for Texas Monthly in 2012). He talked about his first visit to the mission in 1973, while on tour with Genesis—each member, he said, was allowed to pick one place in America to take a day off; Peter Gabriel chose Hot Springs, while Collins wanted San Antonio—and how he began collecting.
Collins demured when asked about the value of the collection (“being British, we don’t talk about that kind of thing”), though he was clear that he spent “a lot of money” on it. He’ll be spending more to ship it to Texas from his home in Switzerland, at his own expense—though Texas will be on the hook to build the proper facilities on the Alamo grounds to house and display the collection.
That facility isn’t going to be cheap, either—Patterson couldn’t give an exact number, but he told reporters to expect a “big dollar amount” expansion of the Alamo grounds—and the Land Office plans to host a $5,000 a head gala event at the Alamo to begin the process of raising money. “That will be a multiyear process,” he said, and Patterson hopes to include a mix of public funds, private funds, and “other funds” to build the museum to house Collins’ collection.
That collection is massive, consisting of over 200 pieces, and Collins picked the Alamo rather than a museum, in part, because he was determined to find a place that could display the entire collection at once. It’s also likely to keep growing—something that prompted Patterson to do a little dance when Collins announced it. “It doesn’t end my involvement with Texas history,” Collins said. “It’s my intention to keep accumulating, keep collecting, and once I’ve lived with whatever I buy for a month, I’ll be shipping it here. I’m kind of a bit of a magnet now for things relating to the Texas revolution.”
That’s a fascinating idea—that Phil Collins is now, essentially, the ongoing curator and buyer for an all-new Texas revolution museum at the Alamo grounds—and though it’ll take some time before it’s actually on display, the first items will be shipped over in October.
The whole announcement is pretty neat—Collins’ Texana collection has long been one of the weirder rock star affectations, but it’s also very sincere, and there’s something delightful in watching an aged English rock star play Alamo Bros with Jerry Patterson and go off on tangents about Texas history (he’s a particular fan of Alamo courier John W. Smith, whom a “clairvoyant” once told Collins he was the reincarnation of) while Patterson goofs on him.
“Phil Collins and I have many, many things in common,” Patterson said at one point. “Well, maybe just a couple of things—well, maybe just one. We’re both in our sixties, we both are wondering what to do with our stuff, and we both wore coonskin caps while watching Fess Parker when we were young.” Collins has always had a groovy kind of love for Texas history, and it’s exciting to see that it’s coming home in October.
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)