Former Genesis singer Phil Collins has addressed the child molestation allegations against his late friend Michael Jackson. In his new memoir Not Dead Yet, Collins praises the Thriller legend's musical prowess and states he has no direct knowledge of the sexual offence claims against Jackson.
In the autobiography, released on 20 October, Collins, 65, recalls visiting Jackson's home with his daughter Lily Collins and ex-wife Jill Tavelman. The In The Air Tonight singer writes of the king of pop: "He's very sweet and friendly. All thoughts of the weird things I've heard disappear in an instant. I don't bat an eyelid when he invites Lily and Jill to play upstairs in his toy room."
The child molestation claims were first brought against Jackson in the early 1990s. The Billie Jean singer, who died in 2009, was criminally charged with abusing a teenage boy in 2003 and put on trial before being acquitted in 2005.
Although Collins can not say with certainty, he believes there would be "no smoke without fire" in regards to the child sex abuse claims. The British singer writes in the memoir: "Michael Jackson, though clearly not the same as us mortals, is not the weirdo we've been led to expect.
"A brilliant musician and a nice guy who's had to live an extraordinary life from the age of five. But, even though I have no direct knowledge of the murkier side of Michael's life, I have to say that there's probably no smoke without some kind of fire."
Collins is in the midst of making a major comeback to music, breaking the short-lived retirement he began in 2011. The Against All Odds hitmaker will perform five nights at London's Royal Albert Hall with additional shows scheduled for Germany and France. With Collins finally back onstage, fans have called for a Genesis reunion, something the singer is willing to consider.
Addressing the possibility of the group reforming, Collins said at a press conference: "We're still great pals. Tony, Mike and I went out on my birthday in London. Anything can happen, really. I just don't want to suddenly take the break off and start flying off and doing things. I just want to do things carefully and think about the consequences."
Tickets for Collins' comeback tour are still available to buy through Ticketmaster's secondary website Get Me In.