Phil Collins’ Teenage Son Nic Talks Drumming for Dad

Phil Collins’ 15-year-old son Nicholas tells us about the pressures and pride in playing drums on his father’s upcoming comeback tour.

It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic public unveiling than what Phil Collins‘ son Nicholas experienced at the opening of the globally livestreamed US Open last August. The fifteen-year-old hadn’t even started his junior year of high school. But there he was, sitting silently behind the drum kit as his father sang “In The Air Tonight” while the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium slowly opened and countless people watched live and online.

Nearly four minutes into the song, all eyes turned to Nic to deliver the most famous drum fill in rock history, the “Ba DA ba DUM ba DOM ba DOM BOOM BOOM” his dad played until nerve damage made it impossible and he passed the drum sticks down to his son. “Everyone knows that fill,” says Nic. “But to be honest, it’s not that hard to play. Still, doing it at the US Open was very nerve-racking.”

The big moment – which he absolutely nailed – was the culmination of years of intense work. Nic is the oldest son of Phil and his third wife Orianne whose main passion growing up in Switzerland was soccer. But when he moved to Florida five years ago following his parents’ divorce (they’ve since reunited), he became completely engrossed in music, starting the band What You Know with buddies from school and taking lessons from local drum teacher Jean-Pierre Espiritusanto. “I could go on and on about my favorite drummers,” he says. “But John Bonham is one of my favorites, along with Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers, [Foo Fighters’] Taylor Hawkins and guys like Ginger Baker and Buddy Rich.”

He first got the chance to back his father in public at the Little Dreams Benefit Gala at Miami Beach’s the Fillmore last March. It was a mere seven songs, but he fit in seamlessly with the band. “I didn’t think it was meant to be a permanent thing,” Nic tels Rolling Stone. “I just thought it would be a great experience. Afterwards he said to me, ‘I’d never had a drummer where I didn’t have to look back at.’ All his drummers have looked up to different drummers, but I’ve looked up to him, so it helps with the songs since I’m doing the same thing.”

A few tiny showcases with Phil in Switzerland that June followed, and…