We all know Phil Collins for the body of musical work he’s racked up over the years, everything from the band Genesis to his successful solo career to his Oscar-nominated work on Disney’s Tarzan. But did you know he’s also quite the history aficionado and is particularly interested in the Battle of the Alamo?
It’s actually been a lifelong interest for Collins, and now he’s planning to send the artifacts he’s collected over the years back home. According to the Texas General Land Office, which manages the historic site, Collins will arrive in San Antonio on Thursday to announce that he is donating his collection to the Alamo. The donation will also reportedly bring multiple items back to the Alamo for the first time since the 13-day siege and battle lasted from late February to early March 1836.
There are some pretty neat pieces in the collection, which is believed to be the world’s largest private collection of artifacts from the Texas Revolution and currently resides at Collins’ home in Switzerland. Among the pieces are items thought to have been used at the Alamo by the likes of Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett themselves, including a pouch purported to have been Crockett’s that still has two musket balls inside. A Mexican army grenade, a flintlock pistol found on the Alamo grounds, and a receipt signed by commander William B. Travis for “30 heads of beeves” to help sustain his troops are also in the collection among many other items.
“We’re both at an age where we’re starting to think, ‘What do you do with your stuff?’ He just has a lot more important stuff than I do,” Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told the San Antonio Express-News. The Texas General Land Office oversees the historic site that still stands in downtown San Antonio.
Collins, 63, has attended multiple events celebrating the history of Alamo over the years and said back in 2010 that he’s been fascinated with the subject since the age of five. Later on, he began collecting the items that make up his large collection.
“That’s what I spend my money on. No Ferraris,” he said at an audience with the Dallas Historical Society that year. “And the more you show an interest, the more stuff comes your way.”
The Grammy-winning musician was also approached by the San Antonio Opera Society to create a piece of music about the event (he said he couldn’t write for “people singing at the walls, Crockett bursting into song”) and was once told by a psychic that he’s the reincarnation of Alamo messenger John W. Smith. He’s even an honorary admiral of the Texas Navy.
Collins’ love for all things Alamo resulted in a 2012 book he wrote about his collection entitled The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey. Photographer Ben Powell, who was hired to shoot photos for the book, later produced a short film called Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier, which documented a publicity tour Collins did across Texas to promote the book and the cast of characters he met along the way.
As for the collection’s journey back to San Antonio, Patterson says some of Collins’ artifacts could be up for public display at the Alamo within a year.