Phil Collins’ Heartbreaking Phone Call That Inspired ‘In The Air Tonight’

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There are numerous fans who love to think that a song has a wicked meaning behind it. Therefore, rock music is filled with unbelievable urban legends that are often made up and nothing but a myth. Genesis’ Phil Collins also had his share of his fans’ imagination for his hit song, ‘In the Air Tonight.’

In the Air Tonight’ is the debut solo single of Collins, released as the lead single from his debut solo album, ‘Face Value,’ in January 1981. When it was first released, the song had incredible success as it climbed to number 2 on the UK Singles chart in addition to topping music charts from numerous countries such as Germany, Austria, Sweden, and more.

Since the track remains one of Collins’ best-known hits and is often cited as his signature song, it was inevitable for his fans to dig deeper into its lyrics. However, their theory about those lyrics gave birth to one of the most outrageous stories in the history of rock and roll, and we’re here to see if it’s true.

There’s An Evil Story Behind Phil Collins’ Song

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According to the absurd story, Phil Collins wrote ‘In the Air Tonight’ after he was on a night drive and witnessed a man drowning which must be based on the lyrics, ‘Well, if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand.’ The story continues with another man standing on the beach watching the victim drown without helping him.

If you think the beginning of the legend doesn’t sound crazy enough, your mind will be blown by the rest. The story goes even further with Collins premiering the song live in concert to which he invited the man who witnessed the drowning somehow.

At some point during his show, the Genesis icon allegedly ordered a spotlight onto the man and told the audience that this new song was dedicated to him in addition to breaking down the story. After the witness was publicly shamed by the rock star, he killed himself in his house later that night.

The Real Story Of ‘In The Air Tonight’

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This story is, of course, false as there isn’t any aspect of it that’s believable from finding the witness, giving him the tickets to a concert, as well as causing him to kill himself. In fact, the real story behind his hit song was once revealed by Phil Collins during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Apparently, Collins wrote the song amid the grief he felt after divorcing his first wife Andrea Bertorelli in 1980. According to the rocker, he felt angry towards the entire process of losing his first love which resulted in his classic song, ‘In the Air Tonight.’

Collins’ statement about the song follows:

“I was just pissed off. I was angry. You go through a divorce, and it’s like, ‘Baby! I love you. I love you. Don’t hang up, don’t hang up.’ And then it’s like ‘Well, f*ck you.’ And of course, that is where the song, ‘In the Air Tonight’ comes up. There’s obvious anger in there.”

You can listen to ‘In the Air Tonight’ and watch the interview down below.