‘Face Value’ turns 40: Five Fascinating Facts

February 13 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Phil Collins’ first solo album Face Value — so here are Five Fascinating Face Value facts! 

#5: The last song on Face Value is a cover of The Beatles‘ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” followed by a hidden track: Phil singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in tribute to John Lennon, who’d been murdered just two months before.

#4: In 2020, sales of Face Value’s first single “In the Air Tonight” skyrocketed after a clip went viral of YouTube stars Tim and Fred Williams freaking out after hearing it for the first time.

#3: Due to the album’s personal nature, Face Value’s cover is a close-up of Phil’s face, and he hand-wrote the liner notes and sleeve notes.  The artwork of all his subsequent solo albums kept this same motif until 1996

#2: Collins’ solo success outside of Genesis made him one of only three artists who’ve sold more than 100 million records both as solo artists and as members of a band. The others? Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

#1. Face Value’s most iconic song, “In the Air Tonight,” inspired the urban legend that it was written after Phil witnessed a man allowing another man to drown. The story goes that Phil then tracked down the guilty party, sent him front-row tickets to his concert, and called him out in front of everyone. 

The rumor’s even referenced in the lyrics of Eminem’s hit “Stan“: “You know the song by Phil Collins/About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drownin’/But didn’t, then Phil saw it all/then at a show he found him?” 

Phil insists the story isn’t true and says if anything, the song’s mostly about the anger he felt about his divorce from his first wife.

By Andrea Dresdale
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