Rocker Phil Collins brings Alamo collection 'back home' to Texas

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - British rock legend Phil Collins brought his massive collection of Alamo artifacts on Tuesday to the San Antonio site those in the Lone Star State call the “Shrine of Texas Liberty” for a museum that will be named in his honor.

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“This completes the journey for me,” Collins said in front of a building across the street from the Alamo that will temporarily house the collection while a planned $100 million center to display the Phil Collins Alamo Collection is being built.

“These artifacts are coming home,” said Collins, 63, who became fascinated by the Alamo while watching Fess Parker star as “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” while he was a small child growing up in suburban London.

The items include the fringed leather pouch that Davy Crockett carried from his home in Tennessee into Texas, then a part of the Republic of Mexico, and the Alamo, which was built in the 1750s by Spanish colonists as a chapel to bring Christianity to the native peoples of what is now Texas.

The pouch, containing two musket balls and two tortillas, was recovered by a Mexican colonel following the 1836 battle between the Mexican Army and Texas settlers fighting for independence from Mexico, in which Crockett and nearly 190 other defenders were killed.

Also included in the donation is an original Bowie knife that Jim Bowie had in his possession during the battle, and one of only four remaining rifles known to have been owned by Crockett.

“When I got older and became successful, I decided to spend my money on original items from the Alamo rather than on Ferraris,” Collins told a news conference in San Antonio.

He said a handful of items will be kept in his home in Switzerland because his 9-year-old son has also become fascinated with the Alamo.

Collins said he was in San Antonio two years ago looking for a museum to house his collection when the Texas General Land Office, which had just taken over management of the Alamo, suggested he donate them directly to the Alamo.

“God bless you, Phil Collins,” Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said as he accepted the donation.

The Alamo, with its distinctive façade, is located in downtown San Antonio and is the largest tourist attraction in Texas, attracting about 2.5 million visitors a year.

A measure is set to be introduced in the Texas legislature when it meets in January to declare Collins to be an “Honorary Texan,” he added.

Collins first became known as drummer and lead vocalist for the rock group Genesis, later winning global fame as a soloist along with numerous awards, including some for movie sound-tracks.

Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Walsh