Phil Collins showed up in San Antonio today to give his priceless Alamo collection away to the Alamo. General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson introduced him to a cheering crowd of about 200.
You may well know Collins from his time with Genesis or his huge solo success, but he’s also had a life-long obsession with the Alamo. He spoke of the place in reverential, and at times humorous, tones.
“I’ve had a love affair with this place since I was about five years old,” he said.
But the idea that he could collect artifacts from the Alamo first started in the 1980s when he was on tour.
“And I came across a letter written by Davy Crockett,” Collins said.
He started collecting shortly thereafter. Fast forward over 30 years, and while in San Antonio he heard the Alamo wanted his collection.
“I was like a dog with two tails, as they say in England," he said with a laugh. "The exact place that my collection should be housed is the place where it came from.”
Collins said he wants everyone to learn more about the Alamo story, and not just one version of what happened there. He said the history was important “on both sides of the wall, because the history as told by Walt Disney and John Wayne was not the entire story, as we all know.”
His over 200 piece collection won’t fit in the Alamo as it stands.
“The plan is to build something that will house it,” Collins said.
I asked him if he ever figured out why he's so fascinated with the Alamo.
“Not really. My older children were convinced that I was here,” he said to laughter.
Then Collins told the tale of a John W. Smith, "who was the main courier that went and out of the Alamo. He was the first Anglo mayor of San Antonio."
He paused, put a half smile on his face, then continued.
"There’s a clairvoyant once that claimed I was he," Collins said. "I don’t buy that.”
Plans are developing as to the when the Collins collection will be open to the public.