Collins can’t recall exactly where or when he first saw King Crimson, but the feeling he got has stuck with him. “They were absolutely phenomenal,” he says. “Just like nothing else I’d ever seen. This was before progressive rock was even called progressive rock, but it was clear they were doing something that was completely new and fairly astounding. And while everyone else was wearing capes and flouncing about, there he [Robert Fripp] was in his suit, sitting on a stool.”
Despite moving in the same circles, Collins and Crimson mastermind Fripp wouldn’t work together until the early 80s, when the former played drums on Disengage and North Star, two tracks on Fripp’s debut solo album, Exposure.
“That was an interesting experience,” says Collins. “Robert doesn’t work like anyone else. He’s very professorial and very focused – there’s no messing around. That’s not to say he’s not a warm person, because he is, but he knows what he wants from himself, and from you. And listening back to North Star,
I think it’s one of my favourite pieces of music that I’ve ever played on.”
Did Fripp or anyone else ever try to tempt you away from Genesis in the 1970s?
“Not that I can remember,” Collins says. “I don’t think I would have gone anyway, even if they had.”
“We were totally aware of what Yes were doing, and even though we were very different, they were still an influence. Especially Bill Bruford, who sounded like no other rock drummer at the time.”