Phil Collins Wrote “In the Air Tonight” After a Painful Divorce                                                                                       

john william

In the Air Tonight

Almost 45 years have gone since the debut of “In the Air Tonight,” a classic by Phil Collins. The song’s genesis and the circumstances surrounding it remain shrouded in mystery, despite the fact that they continue to captivate audiences throughout the world. We explore the history of this classic song, its influence on Collins’s life, and the concerns it poses in this piece.

Collins and Bertorelli’s Relationship

Phil Collins and Andrea Bertorelli were in love as kids, long before they were famous. They first met at the Barbara Speake Stage School for Young Performers in West London when they were just 11 years old. They fell in love when they were teenagers, but fate had other ideas. Bertorelli left her parents’ love story behind when she was 18 and moved to Canada with them.

But destiny had other ideas. Collins, who has been drumming for Genesis since 1970, ran upon Bertorelli again while the band was in Vancouver, Canada, for a concert. After seeing Collins again, Bertorelli and her daughter Joely decided to move to the United Kingdom to be closer to her. They tied the knot at the young age of 24 in 1975.

Their joy would not last for long. Collins’ dedication to his music career, especially after he took over lead vocals for Genesis in 1975, caused him to neglect his family. In 1976, Collins and his wife had just given birth to their son, Simon, when he left for a lengthy world tour with the band. Because of the constant fighting in their relationship, Bertorelli felt alone and sad.

Bertorelli’s admission that he and another woman had an affair while Collins was away was the final straw. As a result of this news, the couple split up, and she and the kids relocated to Vancouver. Collins tried to save the marriage by relocating to Canada, but the couple nonetheless split up in 1980. Bertorelli, who is now 72 years old, moved back to the United Kingdom to start over.

Writing “In the Air Tonight” and Its Impact

After their 1978 tour, Genesis took a sabbatical, giving Collins and the other members of the band time to pursue side projects. For Phil Collins, this included writing songs for his album “Face Value,” 1981, including the timeless hit “In the Air Tonight.”

Collins has said that the song was inspired by his breakup with Bertorelli, although he has been evasive regarding the song’s deeper significance. Previously, he had said, “I’m not quite sure what the song is about, but there’s a lot of anger, a lot of despair, and a lot of frustration.” As a result of this ambiguity, there are a wide range of possible meanings.

Collins stated that the song’s lyrics came to him while he was singing and he wrote them down later. However, this assertion gave rise to rumors of a cover-up, especially because the song in question supposedly mentions a guy drowning and the singer’s refusal to “lend a hand.” Collins has consistently disputed the claims made by urban legends that he saw a real-life drowning occur.

The unusual drum pattern in the song happened by chance. When Collins started drumming, producer Hugh Padgham reversed the talkback system on the studio’s soundboard. This effect, called gated reverb, eventually became emblematic of the song’s overall appeal. For Collins, the release of “In the Air Tonight” in January 1981 was a watershed event in his successful solo career.

The song peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100, but its impact was much more than that. As well as being referenced in Eminem’s 2000 single “Stan,” Collins’ drum break was also parodied by Mike Tyson in the 2009 comedy film “The Hangover.” The song has been praised for its groundbreaking percussion arrangement and has been named one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time for 2021.

He’s still playing the victim

There are still many unresolved issues in Phil Collins and Andrea Bertorelli’s relationship, despite the passage of time. Collins has maintained that Bertorelli’s infidelity was the primary cause of their breakup. He famously referenced their romance by setting a paint can next to his piano during a performance of “In the Air Tonight” on the British television program “Top of the Pops” in 1981.

Collins stated in an interview in 2016 that he and Bertorelli had stopped talking to one another. He understood that she was angry with him and that she didn’t trust his honesty. Tensions have persisted due to divergent memories of events that occurred during their marriage.

Collins has been married and divorced twice more since her 1980 split from Bertorelli, in 1996 and 2006.

Bertorelli claims that the infidelity was the result, not the cause, of their failing marriage. She said she was sorry she’d made that choice and that she didn’t really want it anyhow. She further claimed that Collins utilized their relationship to boost record and then book sales.

Despite their divergent accounts, one fact remains true: the tumultuous nature of their relationship will always be linked to the immortal tune “In the Air Tonight.”


The impact of “In the Air Tonight” on listeners throughout the world has outlasted the album’s initial release date. The song’s ongoing popularity can be attributed to its mysterious lyrics, eerie percussion sequence, and Phil Collins’ heartfelt performance. The song may have been born out of the author’s sorrow, but it has a broad audience because of the deep emotional connection it establishes with its listeners.


What inspired Phil Collins to write “In the Air Tonight”?

The breakup between Phil Collins and ex-wife Andrea Bertorelli inspired the song. Collins has been intentionally vague, though, so there are a number of different ways it might be interpreted.

Did Phil Collins witness a drowning incident that inspired the song’s lyrics?

Phil Collins has stated that he was not present during a real-life drowning occurrence that inspired the song.

How did the distinctive drum sequence in “In the Air Tonight” come about?

The drum sequence was discovered by mistake in the studio as a result of a reversed talkback system, and it ended up becoming a crucial part of the song.

What impact did “In the Air Tonight” have on music and pop culture?

Rolling Stone included it on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and references to it can be found all over pop culture, including in Eminem’s smash hit “Stan.”

What is the current relationship between Phil Collins and Andrea Bertorelli?

They are no longer in touch, and their conflicting memories of their history together have not been settled as of latest report.

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