December 1985: When Phil Collins Guest-Starred on "Miami Vice"

Phil the Shill, Miami Vice, 1985
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During the 1985 holiday season, Miami Vice was the hottest show on television. Well into its second season, NBC's "MTV cops" concept had exploded all over pop culture, with stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas's style inspiring men across the country to invest in pastel-colored suits and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Music was a driving component of Miami Vice, from its chart-topping theme song by Jan Hammer through the cavalcade of sonic celebrities that regularly made cameos on the show. Miles Davis, Gene Simmons, Frank Zappa and the Fat Boys are just some of the artists that appeared throughout the series. The show's first season was highlighted by a famous scene set to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight."

The first Miami Vice soundtrack was the biggest album in America throughout December 1985, sitting at the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 for most of the month. The week of December 21 it was dethroned by Heart's Heart album, only to return to the top spot on December 28.

During the show's most popular second season, the episode titled "Phil the Shill" featured none less than Phil Collins as Phil Mayhew, a British con man running from the UK mob. His cover: a game show host in Miami who moonlights as a major cocaine dealer. The show originally aired on December 13, 1985. See Collins as "Phil the Shill" below.


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