The Police

1977-1985, 2007-
StingVocals, bass
Stewart CopelandDrums
Andy SummersGuitar
Henry PadovaniGuitar1977

The Police Artistfacts

  • They are one of the few bands whose last album was their most successful. They made just five, and the last one, Synchronicity, released in 1983, was by far their biggest. Another album would surely be huge, but by then Sting had nearly complete creative control of the band, so it made more artistic sense for each member to pursue their own interests, which they did. Sting became a top solo artist; Summers took up photography and released more eclectic music; Copeland composed music for film and TV soundtracks.
  • The Police started as a punk band, originally with guitarist Henry Padovani. They played more complex styles when Andy Summers joined.

    For a short time they had four members, but Padovani left when it became clear that Summers was a better fit.
  • "Ambition is stronger than friendship," Sting told Phil Sutcliffe, the journalist who introduced him to Stewart Copeland in 1976. Sting was in a group called Last Exit; Copeland was part of a progressive rock outfit called Curved Air. Both groups were on their last legs. Summers, who studied classical guitar, had been on the English music scene for a while, including as a member of Soft Machine. The three had instant social and musical rapport, but when the downforce of fame pushed upon them, there were no childhood bonds to hold them together. "As long as the group is useful for my career I'll stay," said Sting. "When it isn't I'll drop it like a stone."

    The group began to crumble in 1984 when they took time off following their tour for Synchronicity. They returned in 1986 to play three Amnesty International benefit concerts, but plans for an album were scuppered by hard feelings and other commitments. The next time they worked together was 2007, when they reunited for a successful, but contentious tour that lasted over a year.
  • Before they hit it big, all three members dyed their hair blond for a Wrigley's Gum commercial in 1978.
  • Sting and Summers are from England. Copeland was born in America (Alexandria, Virginia) but moved with his family to Beirut, where his father worked for the CIA.
  • When the Police reunited in 2007, they opened the Grammy awards with a performance of "Roxanne" before going on tour. Their previous performance was in 2003 when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
  • They made videos right away, starting with some tracks from their first album, Outlandos d'Amour, in 1978. Their earliest videos were mostly performance footage or shots of the band in exotic locations just larking about, but as they got more successful, their video budgets grew and they became more conceptual. When MTV went on the air in 1981, they played many of these videos because they had few to choose from. Soon after the network launched, The Police delivered videos for "Spirits In The Material World" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," which went into rotation and made them fixtures on the network. In 1983, only Michael Jackson was a bigger video star, with "Every Breath You Take" and "Synchronicity II" making a huge impact.
  • The champion race horse Zenyatta was named after The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta. Jerry Moss, who signed The Police to his label A&M Records (Moss is the "M", his partner Herb Alpert is the "A"), bought the horse when she was a yearling for $60,000 from former PolyGram records CFO Eric Kronfeld, and named her after the album. The investment paid off for Moss - Zenyatta won over $7 million in purses.
  • They won the Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance two years in a row, for "Reggatta de Blanc" and "Behind My Camel."
  • Their first gigs were on tour with the female punk singer Cherry Vanilla; they would perform first, then Sting and Copeland would act as her backup band. Cherry Vanilla released two albums in the '70s but never made it big as a singer. She later became an author.
  • Most of their songs were written separately, with each member bringing in demos. Sting ended up becoming the primary writer because his songs were the hits - his musical tastes matched that of the general public. Summers and Copeland didn't have a problem with this at first because working up the songs was still a team effort. Toward the end though, they felt that Sting was dismissive of their contributions, insisting on doing everything his way.
  • They used keyboards and synthesizers, but sparingly. Many of their musical textures were generated by guitarist Andy Summers, often using various effects units. "We had a guitarist with such a wide vocabulary that we never really needed to use keyboards that much," Stewart Copeland said in a Songfacts interview. "We all preferred guitar, but there are bits and pieces of keyboards. They [Sting and Summers] both got Taurus bass pedals and we used technology for various things, but keyboards not so much."
  • Their manager, Miles Copeland (Stewart's brother) chose their first three album titles: Outlandos d'Amour, Reggatta de Blanc and Zenyatta Mondatta. He made up the words: "Outlandos d'Amour" indicates "Outlaws of Love"; "Reggatta de Blanc" is "White Reggae"; "Zenyatta Mondatta" is just fun to say.

    For their next two albums, Sting imposed his will and came up with highbrow concept titles based on psychology: Ghost in the Machine, titled after an Arthur Koestler book; and Synchronicity, after Carl Jung's book.

Comments: 13

  • Makmak from TorontoDoes anyone know what the poem on the blackboard is in the video "dont stand....."
    Caesar at sum jam for t . Brutus et a rat. Caesar sic on omnibus. Brutus in his hat.... ?
  • Frilich from Human, UnIt is amazing sting can fit that ginormous head & ego into the same room as the other 2... too bad, they could be still rocking today if it weren't for his ego.
  • Kayla from Winnipeg, MbThe Police have been my favourite band since I was about 4 years old! My dad got me into them, so as you can tell, my parents taught me at a young age about good and real music! The 80's were real and the BEST music there ever was! The 90's were cool, the 2000's absolutely suck! Too much auto tune and untalented people who write a crappy pop song and people think it's gold, well it's not! Anyway.. I just thank God for 80's music and great bands from that amazing decade, like the Police! :)
  • Josep from Dubrovnik, CroatiaThey are one of the best bands of the '80s. They showed us White Guys can reggae also! They are huge in my country.
  • Allison from Oslo, --Usually I don't listen and like '80s music but this is one band that's actually good and has good lyrics from that dreadful time period in music. I'm going to see them in a few weeks in Michigan with my mum. That's as much as I can say for them
  • Guilliermo from New York, NySting was a big Sex Pistols fan and had a cameo in their film THE GREAT ROCK AND ROLL SWINDLE which was filmed mostly in 1977, before the advent of The Poice.
  • Lewis from Essex, EnglandThe first album the police ever recorded and recording of The Police was called "Strontium 90 Police Academy" which resulted into the birth of The Police produced by Mike Howlett who also played bass on the tracks with all three members of the police (sting andy summers stewart copeland) this gave a dynamic sound having both mike and sting playing bass, all tracks were mastered at Chop 'Em Out London England. Mastered by Simon Heyworth.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesPolice drummer Stewart Copeland was a member of prog-rock Curved Air (best known for their 1971 hit "Backstreet Luv") between 1975 and 1977
  • Candice from Vancouver, CanadaThey look more like 'the Criminals' instead of 'The Police' because they wear too much black.
  • James from Windsor, CaThis band was pure genius.
  • John from Levittown, NyStewart Copeland's father was a section chief in Beirut for the CIA, and his brother is Miles Copeland, founder of IRS Records. Andy Summers briefly played in a later version of the Animals. Allegedly , Copeland broke two of Sting's ribs at their concert at New York's Shea Stadium.
  • Micah from Huntington Beach, Cathe police are the smoothest and 2nd best soft rock band ever
    the beatles are the first
    sorry guys
  • David from Lubbock, TxAndy Summers wrote and recorded a very delightful new age album in 1988 entitled "Mysterious Barricades". Sleeve note states: "dedicated to the spirit of Eric Satie"
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