To millions, Phil Collins is known as a musician, who first made a name for himself as the drummer of the rock band 'Genesis.'
In San Antonio, though, Phil Collins is known as much for his collection of Alamo artifacts, a collection now detailed in his book "The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey."
"The book is fundamentally about my collection, that I've gathered over the last 15 to 20 years," Collins said. "It was not something that I planned to do. It was just my little secret."
As Collins was working with artist Gary S. Zaboly on "An Altar for their Sons: The Alamo and the Texas Revolution in Contemporary Newspaper Accounts," Collins said he realized there was so much material, it lent itself to publishing a second book. "So, I did a lot of studying of everything in the collection... and their place in Texas history and the revolution," Collins said.
Friday, the San Antonio Conservation Society recognized Collins and nine other authors for their contributions to Texas history, honoring them with the Society's 2013 Publication Awards.
"Every other year, the San Antonio Conservation Society honors authors of books that document, celebrate and honor our regional values in Texas history," said Nancy Avellar, President of the San Antonio Conservation Society.
Collins has gained prominence in history circles for his vast collection of Alamo memorabilia.
His fascination with the Alamo began at an early age.
"I can remember, vividly, watching when I was about 5 years old... in England sitting and watching the black and white television in the corner of the room," Collins said. "Suddenly, 'Walt Disney's King of the Wild Frontier' came on and... the character just gripped me."
Collins said there were few books on the subject available when he was a child, so he read everything he could find in subsequent years.
But it wasn't until he was a young man in his mid-20s that he had a chance to tour the Shrine of Texas Liberty.
"It was 1973, and I was in town," Collins said.
At the time, he was the drummer of the band 'Genesis' and the group was on a three-day break from touring.
"Me and Peter (Gabriel) and the tour manager said, 'Take a day each, where do you want to go?' One person wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, one wanted to go to Hot Springs. I said I want to go to the Alamo," Collins said.
"When we turned in to the Plaza, it was like, all my life, I had wanted to see it, and I guess I was 23, 24 by the time I got an opportunity," Collins said. "And now I go through and the guards say, 'Good afternoon, Mr. Collins,' and it's just like a fairy story."
His book, available on Amazon.com, has brought him new fans, intrigued by his knowledge of Texas history.
"There's a lot of Europeans, either because some of their relatives were defenders or because, it's one of those things where a lot is know, but a lot isn't. I can't believe that I've written a book that has touched people," Collins said.
"It's got better reviews than my records."
Other authors and their works recognized with the San Antonio Conservation Society's 2013 Preservation Awards include:
- "Devils River: Treacherous Twin to the Pecos, 1535-1900" by Patrick Dearen. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2011.
- "Grace & Gumption: The Women of El Paso" edited by Marcia Hatfield Daudistel. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2011.
- "James Riely Gordon: His Courthouses and Other Public Architecture" by Chris Meister. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2011.
- "José Antonio Navarro: In Search of the American Dream in Nineteenth Century Texas" by David McDonald. Texas State Historical Association, 2010.
- "Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill: Voelcker Roots Run Deep in Hardberger Park" by Gayle Brennan Spencer. San Antonio: LJB CommuniCo for the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund, 2010.
- "Tejano Patriots of the American Revolution 1776-1783" by Jesse O. Villarreal, Sr. San Antonio: Published by author, 2011.
- "Texas Furniture: The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840-1880, Revised Edition, Vol. 1" by Lonn Taylor and David B. Warren. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2012.
- "Texas State Cemetery" by Jason Walker and Will Erwin. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2011.
- "Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good" by Steven Fenberg. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2011.