Best River Walk Restaurant

Best River Walk Restaurant

Best of SA 2012: 4/25/2012
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Urban myth: Musician, actor, and Texana super-collector Phil Collins thinks he is a reincarnation of one of the Alamo defenders

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

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Not true, writes Collins in the introduction to his new book The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey. Referring to his obsession with relics from the Texas Revolution, he states, "My own kids think it's because I was at the Alamo in a previous life — cue the ghostly music — but in truth I doubt that possibility."

Published by Texas nonprofit State House Press with illustrations by Gary S. Zaboly and introductions by official Alamo historian Richard Bruce Winders and author Stephen L. Hardin, the 384-page book features lush photographs documenting Collins' extensive private collection of military hardware, historical documents, and other relics associated with the Alamo or other scenes in the Texas Revolution. It culminates an interest in the Alamo story that Collins' unapologetically explains began when he was a five-year-old kid in a London suburb watching the Walt Disney TV series Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier on a black and white television. A few years later, John Wayne's movie The Alamo increased Collins' fascination with coonskin caps and the rest of the trappings. Collins' successful music career, which included vocals and drumming in the British progressive rock group Genesis, followed by lucrative solo recordings, allowed him to indulge his long standing fascination with the Alamo by amassing what may be the largest collections of Alamo-related memorabilia. Some of the artifacts were purchased from antiquities dealers; others were excavated by Collins and Jim Guimarin, owner of The History Shop near Alamo Plaza, from under the store's floorboards. The Shop is located approximately 75 yards from the location of the Alamo compound's north wall. Items found within its footprint include musket balls, grapeshot, buckles — and hundred's of horseshoes, leading some to believe it was the campsite of General Juan José Andrade and his troops, who were ordered by Santa Anna to stay behind and ensure Bexar remained neutralized.

The text by Collins reveals his personal* fascination with the topic, but it is much more cogently expressed than one might expect from a hobbyist, demonstrating erudition and openness to multiple interpretations of evidence. At present, Collins maintains most of the historical objects in his home, though many pieces are on loan to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas' museum located in the Alamo's Long Barrack. No doubt, this volume will stir institutional interest in obtaining his collection.

The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey

By Phil Collins, with illustrations
by Gary S. Zaboly
State House Press
$74.99, 384 pages


* Corrected from "personnel." 4/18/2012

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