The two men who cuckolded Phil Collins: The extraordinary untold truth about the affairs of the rock star's wife
- This month English rock star Phil Collins publishes his memoirs
- In a new series the stories he'll be reluctant to expose are uncovered
- First up is the extraordinary untold truth about his wife's affairs
Strobe lights flashed, teenagers with mullet hairstyles shuffled about beside the stage, then the Top Of The Pops cameras panned to a young singer sitting pensively at a keyboard, ready to perform his first solo single.
As the 29-year-old Phil Collins furrowed his brow and launched into the first tortured bars of In The Air Tonight, however, close observers noticed something decidedly odd, even by the zany standards of British TV's long-running chart show.
Placed on top of the amplifier beside him was a large pot of paint with white gloss spilling over the side and a brush protruding from it, as though it had been left there in haste by stagehands who'd rigged up the set.
Tangled affair: Phil and Andrea with their daughter Joely seen in the summer of 1976
However, any suggestion that the pot was there by accident were quashed when Collins made two further appearances on Top Of The Pops in 1981, the year he became a huge international star.
When he sang his follow-up record, I Missed Again, an equally angst-filled composition about the pain of discovering a lover's infidelity, the mysterious prop — this time a tin of red paint — was perched on top of his piano. What could it all mean, his fast-growing army of fans wondered. Watching in anger, from the West London home to which she had recently moved, Collins's estranged wife, Andrea, knew the answer.
Some two years earlier, feeling anxious and depressed after Collins embarked on yet another long overseas tour, abandoning her to care for their two young children, she had sought comfort in the arms of a handsome painter and decorator renovating The Old Croft, their new country house in Surrey.
Collins on TV, placed on top of the amplifier beside him is a large pot of paint with white gloss
Quickly realising she had made 'a dreadful mistake', she confessed the affair to her husband when he returned home during a brief gap in his relentless schedule.
At first, she says, he seemed understanding and supportive. But the marriage was already under serious strain because the workaholic Collins spent so little time with his family, and by the following year, 1979, they were living apart. Andrea and the children ended up renting a flat in West London.
Consumed with anger and self-pity, Collins stayed at their Surrey home where he wrote the tortured, deeply personal songs that became his trademark. Brutally harsh lyrics such as 'if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand' were clearly aimed at Andrea.
But as if these words weren't hurtful enough, she believes the ubiquitous paint-pot was intended as his coded message to her: a bitterly ironic symbol of her guilt.
He was 'implying decorator, implying affair, implying that that was what had happened to our marriage, when that wasn't what had happened at all,' she told Collins' biographer, the late Ray Coleman, suggesting the affair was born of desperation; a symptom of deeper problems in the marriage.
'I felt particularly insulted and I felt it was unnecessary. It was personal and it was private. He should have kept it to himself, especially since he didn't take any responsibility. That hurt me more than anything, caused me a lot of pain.'
The first lover: Michael Burberry as a young man
When she implored Collins to stop airing their dirty linen in public, she says, he tartly replied: 'I'm allowed to do whatever I want. It's called artistic licence.'
Since the songs he penned at The Old Croft were the catalyst for his phenomenal success (critics even dubbed Face Value, his first solo LP, 'the divorce album') his defiant attitude was perhaps unsurprising.
But who was the decorator who had that fateful fling with Andrea, and unwittingly played such a pivotal part in the Phil Collins story?
Incredibly, given the millions of words that have been written about Collins over the intervening 40 years, he has never been named.
But I have finally uncovered his identity and I can reveal he was not some humble workman, as Collins would have us believe, but belonged to a well-known Establishment family who founded one of Britain's best-known brands of clothing.
I have also discovered that Collins' wife later had a second affair, this time more protracted and serious, with the great- grandson of one Britain's most notable 20th-century writers.
Indeed, this second lover worked for British Cellophane — which surely inspired a line in a Collins song about 'the Cellophane man'.
Phil Collins with wife Andrea Collins and Simon, then aged 18 months
This month, the singer will publish his long-awaited memoirs, Not Dead Yet. But whether he breathes a word about what really happened in his first marriage remains to be seen . . .
A child star whose stage career began at 14 when he played the Artful Dodger in the West End musical Oliver!, Phil Collins attended a leading West London theatre school, and it was here that he first dated Andrea Bertorelli (as she then was) a beautiful aspiring actress and dancer.
But drumming was his passion, and after playing percussion in several small-time bands, he joined the leading avant-garde rock band Genesis. His profile rose in 1977, when he replaced Peter Gabriel as lead singer, but it was during the Eighties that he became the dominant force in pop.
During that decade only Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney could match his record sales, and in 1985 he was the only artist who dashed across the Atlantic by Concorde to perform at the Live Aid concerts in both London and Philadelphia on the same day.
Phil Collins, pop star, and Andrea Bertorelli on their wedding day in 1975. They divorced five years later
Collins became known as 'the royal rocker' by dint of his friendship with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and won acclaim for his eponymous role in the movie Buster, about the Great Train Robber Buster Edwards.
His image as the Mr Nice Guy of Pop, however, was dented when his by then ex-wife Andrea gave a bombshell interview to the Daily Mail, claiming that during their marriage the seemingly affable, easy-going Collins had been unpredictable and sometimes intimidating.
When they argued, she said 'the veins would be bulging out on his neck'. Quite how much that provoked her to cheat on her husband not once but twice is a moot point.
So who were the two men with whom she consorted during this unhappy period?
First, the mysterious decorator. His name is Michael Burberry, and he is a scion of the world-renowned Burberry fashion design family. His late father was a distinguished RAF pilot who won an OBE and captained the Queen's Flight.
Educated at Brighton College, one of the country's leading public schools, Burberry studied history at Durham University, his godfather was the manager of the Red Arrows, and his noble Scandinavian ancestors include King Christian IV, the 17th-century ruler of Denmark and Norway.
'Michael is hugely well-read, extremely intelligent, and has an impeccable family pedigree. All this business of him being a lowly painter and decorator is nonsense,' his sister, Elsa-Marie Kitching, 70, told me indignantly.
'In any case, it wasn't some sordid affair,' she added. 'Michael was very much in love with her.'
The second lover: Charles Edward Chichester Eustace
Why, then, was the well-heeled Burberry, then 24, working at Collins's house, in the pretty village of Shalford, near Guildford?
According to his sister, he had dropped out of university and had aspirations to become a theatre director. But as the Burberry family had sold the company generations earlier, he had no income, and was working for a friend's decorating firm while waiting for an opening in the thespian world.
Furthermore, says Mrs Kitching, the decorating firm's owner was related by marriage to Andrea Collins' family, which is how he got the contract to decorate The Old Croft.
So, in all likelihood, Phil Collins would have known his pedigree background.
'I think the reason this story has never been published is that Phil Collins wanted it to be some unknown decorator of no significance who would not detract from his macho self,' she told me. 'So he is being disingenuous.'
Now 62, Michael Burberry today lives between Bulgaria, where he has used a recent inheritance to buy property for renovation, and Paris, where his Russian girlfriend lives. His marriage, to a Moscow journalist by whom he has a son in his 20s, has broken up.
This week, the Mail found him in a small village, three hours from Sofia, where he owns a house and lives a Bohemian lifestyle, befriended by local gipsies and, bizarrely, the heavyweight Eighties pop singer Buster Bloodvessel (aka Doug Trendle), a close neighbour. Burberry flatly declined to discuss the affair.
However, angry at the way he has been 'downgraded' by Collins, as she puts it, his sister took it upon herself to defend him. 'Michael has told me his side of the story. He was working at the house, Phil Collins was away and they [Michael and Andrea] fell in love. They were a fatal attraction.
'Michael had classical Scandinavian good looks, tall, blue-eyed, and he was very aesthetic, very well-travelled. He was probably everything Phil Collins (who came from a middle-class family and left grammar school in his mid-teens to attend stage school) was not.
'Michael was also a talented musician himself. He was like a wandering minstrel who played the lute and guitar and made up scatological songs. There was something of the Lord Byron about him. He wanted to stay with Andrea but Phil Collins made it impossible.'
She says that when Andrea made her confession to her husband, the singer not only cancelled the decorating contract but warned off Michael — in no uncertain terms.
'I totally understand his hurt, but Collins has also hurt people. Has his second wife — who he cheated on — written any songs? Has she written about betrayal? No,' Mrs Kitching remarked sardonically.
Collins performs during the first Live Aid concert at the JFK stadium in Philadelphia
Michael Burberry was 'absolutely heartbroken' when the affair ended and took a long time to get over it, she says, and her parents were deeply upset.
'It was quite a big scandal which reverberated all around the family, and my brother did nothing wrong to anyone. He just fell in love and couldn't stand back.'
Andrea Collins has described her affair with Burberry somewhat differently. 'He was more of a friend. And when it led to other things, I said: 'Right, this has got to stop.' And I cut it off at that point,' she told Ray Coleman.
It was not merely a physical association, she said, it was deep-seated emotional need. 'I felt awful about it. I basically had a nervous breakdown.'
What she did not say, then, but claimed yesterday when she spoke to me from her home in the West Country, is that Collins was freqently unfaithful to her, and that she divorced him for adultery.
Andrea maintains that her affair with Burberry lasted just a few weeks and was of no lasting consequence. 'It didn't matter. Phil has just used the story to sell his records all these years, and I think it's disgusting,' she told me.
Phil Collins attended a leading West London theatre school, and it was here that he first dated Andrea Bertorelli
'He had to go and stick brushes in pots of paint on the stage to blame me. It was a red herring. It wasn't why I really left him, but he had to make me the bad guy. It's so insulting to reduce the reason the relationship ended to that.
'But that's Phil. It's always all about him. He's a bit of a narcissist. He absolutely hates criticism. He finds it very easy to blame other people. It's very important to him that people believe his side of the story.'
Far more serious, she said, was the relationship she had with her second lover a few months afterwards, by which time she and Collins were living separately but still married.
Collins became known as 'the royal rocker' by dint of his friendship with Prince Charles and Princess Diana
'He was the one who really got under Phil's skin,' she told me. 'He was an Old Etonian, and had class. We were together for two years. At one point we talked of getting married.'
The second lover to whom she refers certainly had an impeccable pedigree. He was Charles Edward Chichester Eustace, whose great-grandfather was the celebrated writer and liberal politician Hilaire Belloc.
He now lives in a country retreat once owned by the great Edwardian man of letters, which nestles beside a historic windmill in rural Sussex.
Friends of Mr Eustace, now 62 and married with two sons, say that he had been a contemporary of Michael Burberry's at Durham University, and also harboured theatrical aspirations.
He and Andrea 'fell into one another's arms' after Burberry (with whom she remained friendly after their affair) brought her to his house for lunch.
'Michael Burberry was the wedge driven into the ice. He split the marriage [to Collins]. Several months passed before she took up with Charles, so it would be wrong to say Charles pinched Collins's wife,' said a source who knows the inside story.
'Charles adored Andrea, with her Latin looks and hot-blooded artistic temperament, and they spent a lot of time together.
'They visited the Edinburgh Festival and went away for romantic weekends. To make ends meet, Charles was then working as a rep for British Cellophane, and Collins must have known that because 'the Cellophane man' became a line in one of his songs. They were planning to settle down together. They went house-hunting in the West Country and Charles agreed to take in Andrea's two children (her son Simon by Collins, now 40, and her daughter Joely, 44, from an earlier relationship).
'But I think Charles knew that Andrea really wanted to get back with Phil.
'He even tried to phone Phil Collins once or twice, intending to say he thought she wanted to go back to him and make the marriage work, but he was a rock star and Charles could never get through to him. Things might have turned out very differently if he had.'
Indeed, they might. In fact, Andrea has said that they discussed the possibility of a reunion as late as the autumn of 1980, well after her affair with Charles Eustace had petered out.
Phil Collins with his next wife Jill Tavelman on their wedding day in 1984
'But, of course, he went away on tour about a week after that conversation!' she recalls. 'I couldn't go. I stayed with the children. Maybe I should have gone. There was a lot at stake really. And while he was on tour, he met Jill . . .'
A petite, pretty, blonde Californian, 24-year-old Jill Tavelman was the daughter of a Beverly Hills outfitter-to-the-stars who Collins first encountered while playing a concert in Los Angeles.
Her looks were in sharp contrast to those of the dusky Andrea. But it wasn't just their appearance that set them apart.
Since her father had provided clothes for celebrities such as the comedians Milton Berle and Groucho Marx (who was her godfather) she had been raised in a celebrity milieu.
Though she was studying to become a junior school teacher, she also had more money than Collins, whose royalties were only just starting to build up.
They met in 1980, at the Rainbow Bar in Los Angeles, where Genesis were playing a concert, and Collins soon asked for her phone number. Though he lost it, his staff tracked her down, and when he got through to her he impetuously asked her to join him on the rest of the U.S. tour.
In 1985 Collins was the only artist who dashed across the Atlantic by Concorde to perform at the Live Aid concerts in both London and Philadelphia on the same day
She agreed, and from then on they were inseparable. Abandoning her teaching course, she moved with him to England, where they first lived at The Old Croft and later settled in a more affluent mansion, a few miles away in Loxwood, West Sussex.
They were married at Guildford Register Office, in 1984, and the wedding was blessed at their local parish church. Eric Clapton was among the guests and his wife, Patti, was matron of honour. As Morning Has Broken was played at the service, Collins wept for joy.
His happiness lasted for much of the ensuing decade. The couple had a daughter, Lily, now 27 and a successful actress, and settled into bucolic English life. They mingled with villagers at their local pub, where Collins liked to pull pints, and enjoyed country walks and cooking wholesome meals.
When he went on tour, Jill made sure she went with him, cocooning him from the attentions of other women (not that he was ever much interested in groupies).
He was similarly possessive and attentive. Their relationship was everything his marriage to Andrea was not.
Their obvious physical attraction apart, however, friends began to realise that Collins and Jill really had little in common. When he became involved in the Prince's Trust charity, for example, Jill showed no interest and did not accompany him on his jaunts with Prince Charles.
She preferred to spend the weekend at local antique fairs or visiting the sales at Sotheby's, and on the rare occasions that he went with her he would die from embarrassment as she haggled for bargains. Jill's best friend, Megan Taylor, later recalled: 'It came to a stage where there wasn't anything to do together.'
In conversation with his biographer, Collins put it this way: 'More and more things were starting to bother me about the person I was living with. I think that in some respects I was just losing contact.
'All the reasons you live with someone, stay with someone, stay married to them, were gradually being lost. There were signs that maybe it wasn't as special, or wonderful, as it used to be.'
Such was his state of disillusionment when, in 1992, he met an old flame, Lavinia Lang.
'Intimidating': Collins' image as the Mr Nice Guy of Pop, however, was dented when his by then ex-wife Andrea gave a bombshell interview to the Daily Mail
At his West London stage school, Collins's affections had been split between Andrea, Lavinia and another attractive girl in his class, Georgina Rhoades. At various times he dated them all.
By their late teens, however, Lavinia was entwined with the Sixties pop heartthrob Barry Ryan, and Collins hadn't set eyes on her since.
Then in her early 30s, she was married to a film producer named Brett Hudson, and was living in Los Angeles.
The story of how she and the British singer were thrust together is strange and convoluted, even in the context of Collins's tangled romantic life.
Suffice to say that Andrea Collins was in touch with Lavinia, and for reasons best known to herself she effectively played Cupid by suggesting her old school pal should attend Phil's next concert in Los Angeles.
Andrea then told Phil that Lavinia would be coming, and that she had arranged tickets and a backstage pass for her.
Collins expected Lavinia to turn up with her husband, but she came alone, and 'looked absolutely incredible', he recalled. When she walked into the Green Room after the show, he was chatting to Kevin Costner, one of his favourite actors whom he had very much wanted to meet.
A petite, pretty, blonde Californian, 24-year-old Jill Tavelman was the daughter of a Beverly Hills outfitter-to-the-stars
But he was so captivated by Lavinia that he later revealed how he was thinking 'how the f*** do I get rid of (him)?' She felt similarly smitten.
As Jill was with him on tour, they could do no more than swap compliments and a brief kiss. But they secretly stayed in touch by letter and phone, and later that summer, when Lavinia spent six weeks in England, he sneaked away from Jill for passionate trysts with her.
Though their liaison was brief, and Lavinia returned to her husband and family, Collins later pinpointed this as being the beginning of the end of his second marriage.
He told Jill what had happened and — as he had after Andrea cheated on him with Michael Burberry — she seemed understanding at first.
But he says she never truly forgave him, and they began to have 'terrible shouting matches'.
They struggled along miserably for two more years. Then, during a brief trip to Switzerland, he was introduced to his interpreter.
He was 43 and she was just 22. But the moment he saw her, Phil Collins, incurable romantic that he is, knew that something was in the air — again.
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