From their early beginnings, The Police were hailed as a maverick live band – a group that galvanized an already impressive studio sound into something otherworldly when performing. Combining controlled energy and evocative melodies, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers played with the improvisational instincts of a jazz trio and the raw energy of a punk-rock band – a blend that made them one of the definitive rock groups of the’70s and ’80s.
The group originally broke through at the same time that punk was shaking up the music scene in the late 70’s. Each member came from a different musical background: Summers played with The Animals, Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers, Copeland was a member of Curved Air and had a brief solo career as Klark Kent, while Sting had played in various jazz fusion groups. The band manifested an understated virtuosity, applying their chops within reggae grooves and intricate arrangements. Between Summers’ trenchant and ground breaking guitar work, Copeland’s deceptively complex polyrhythms and Sting’s loping bass and soaring vocals, The Police were indisputably the most adventurous ambassadors of the genre then known as new wave.
Their first album, Outlandos D’Amour debuted on A&M Records in 1978 and quickly climbed the charts with such hits as Roxanne and So Lonely. The following year saw the release of their sophomore record Reggatta de Blanc which also topped the charts and brought us such hits as Message in a Bottle and Walking on the Moon as well as honoring the band with their first Grammy for the record’s title track. Zenyatta Mondatta soon followed in 1980, resulting in two more Grammy awards for the group as well as Top Ten hits Don’t Stand So Close To Me and De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da. In 1981, The Police put out Ghost in the Machine which went double platinum with hit singles Every Little Thing She Does is Magic and Spirits in the Material World.
After a year-long sabbatical, the members reunited to record Synchronicity, an album that would prove to be their studio swansong and earn them three Grammy Awards in the process. The most successful Police album yet, it produced Every Breath You Take, one of the most-remembered rock ballads of the ’80s and the recipient of the 2005 BMI Award for Eight Million Radio Plays. They were ranked the #1 most played band on U.S. radio in the ’80s while achieving comparable success in the UK with 5 number one albums and singles to their credit. In 1982, The Police received the Brit Award for Best Group and in 1985 were honored with the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
After the band parted ways in 1984, their individual careers continued to flourish. Sting released Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985, which featured a cast of accomplished jazz musicians, including Kenny Kirkland, Darryl Jones, Omar Hakim, and Branford Marsalis. Sting’s solo success continued with the release of Bring On The Night, Nothing Like The Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day, All This Time, Sacred Love, and his latest endeavor, Songs from the Labyrinth, a personal tribute to 16th century composer John Dowland, which debuted at #1 on Billboards’ Classical chart, where it remained for 15 consecutive weeks. In 1979, Sting made his cinematic debut in the film adaptation of “Quadrophenia” and has appeared in 14 films since, including the cult classic “Dune”. Most recently, he also executive produced the critically acclaimed, “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints”. He also enjoyed a stint on the Broadway stage when he starred in the 1989 production of “Threepenny Opera”. In 2003, Sting published a memoir entitled Broken Music, which spent 13 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Simply put, Sting has evolved into one of the world’s most distinctive and highly respected performers, collecting as a solo artist an additional 11 Grammys in addition to 2 Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, Billboard Magazine’s Century Award, and MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year.
Stewart Copeland has been responsible for some of the film world’s most innovative and groundbreaking scores, working with a broad array of directors on nearly 40 films and television works since 1984, including Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumblefish, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Score, as well as scoring Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film ‘Four Days in September’ and Emmy nominated TV shows such as ‘Dead Like Me’. Solo albums include the cult soundtrack to ‘The Rhythmatist’ his aural odyssey across the African continent. Copeland continues to stretch himself compositionally, writing work that includes Operas, Ballets and Orchestral Concert works, among them: ‘Holy Blood and the Crescent Moon’ for Cleveland Opera, ‘A Casque of Amontillado’, and ‘King Lear’ for the San Francisco Ballet. Most recently utilizing a brass section, a four-piece percussion quartet and a chamber orchestra to bring the album Orchestralli to life, he earned a 2006 Grammy nomination. Performing live, Copeland has toured successfully with a number of world music and rock ensembles including that featuring the uniquely esoteric and fiercely melodic music from ‘La Notte della Taranta’ – ancient trance music originating from the Grecia-Salentina region of Southern Italy. Copeland enjoyed a sensational return to the rock stage when he re-joined Trey Anastasio of Phish and Les Claypool of Primus to perform as Oysterhead at last year’s Bonnaroo Festival. Cited as a ‘mighty’ performance by Billboard, the trio recorded a sparkling album on Elektra Records in 2000 and toured in 2000 and 2001. In January 2006 “Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. This feature length film documents the formation, subsequent worldwide success and the then demise of The Police. Directed, produced, narrated and filmed in Super 8mm by Stewart from his unique perspective behind the drums, it has been warmly received. Now out on DVD around the world and screened at numerous Film Festivals worldwide, it will open in theatres in Japan on March 31st. Amidst all of this activity Copeland has also begun a career as an on-screen personality and judge on the highly-rated BBC1 ‘Just The Two Of Us’ series. Copeland is the recipient of the 2003 Hollywood Film Festival’s Outstanding Music in Film Visionary Award and will be receiving the Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award on March 3rd.
Since the Police split in 1984, Summers has recorded 12 solo albums, collaborating with such artists as Robert Fripp, John Etheridge, Victor Biglone, Roberto Menescal and Benjamin Verdery and has maintained a consistent touring schedule appearing as a headliner at various jazz festivals around the world. In March 2005, Summers made his Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestral concerto Dark Florescence, a piece specially commissioned by Yale University for Andy. He has also arranged the scores for several films, including “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “Weekend at Bernie’s”. Celebrated by Guitar Player magazine, Summers was voted the number one guitar player five times in the 80’s and was subsequently inducted into their permanent Hall of Fame. Both Gibson and Martin have created a signature guitar in Andy’s name, he received the Gibson Guitar lifetime achievement award in 2003 and most recently, Fender released a Tribute model of his iconic Telecaster. In October of 2006, he released his autobiography, “One Train Later: A Memoir”, a revealing work chronicling his years before and during The Police, providing an intimate look at the band during the height of their meteoric success. Since the 1983 release of his first book of photography, “Throb”, Summers has also enjoyed considerable critical acclaim for his work behind a camera, including a highly-regarded showing of “City Like This” at the Beaux Arts gallery in London and “Light Strings”, a photographic collaboration with the pre-eminent New York photographer, Ralph Gibson. In March of 2007, Taschen Books will publish “I’ll Be Watching You”, an extensive photographic journal of his years with The Police.
In March of 2003, The Police briefly returned to the stage for the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The three-song set included the classics Roxanne, Every Breath You Take, and Message in a Bottle and the renewed hope in music fans worldwide for a future reunion of one of the most innovative and influential bands in rock & roll.
Although they existed for just over six years, the band’s contribution to the lexicon of rock was immense. They were the first band to fully integrate the no-nonsense approach of punk rock and the spirit-moving positive energy of reggae. Having sold an excess of 50 million albums worldwide, The Police had phenomenal chart success and won a multitude of accolades both public and critical, but they never allowed such peripherals to overshadow their commitment to the music itself. The band’s history bears that out from the beginning to end, providing a clear, concise picture of a musical group that took us on a short but unforgettable trip through the inner reaches of its soul – and let us have a great time in the process.