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The biggest band that emerged from the British new wave scene is, without a doubt ‘The Police.’ The power trio led by Sting immediately topped the charts with a never-before-heard blend of rock, jazz, reggae, and world music.
As a child, I would listen to their songs on the radio for hours, and growing up, I became an even bigger fan. Nowadays, as a seasoned rock musician, I will share in this ‘The Police’ Bio their story and an analysis of their work.
I am convinced that a Police album would be a hit even today. String’s astonishing vocals, tight bass playing, Stewart Copeland’s borderline virtuoso drumming, and Any Summer’s texture guitars are timeless. Simple, catchy pop melodies blended with intricate, sophisticated compositions deliver both worlds’ best.
Even though their career together was relatively short, the band’s impact on music makes The Police Bio an essential read for music lovers.
The Police Quick Facts
|Band Members||Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, Henry Padovani (ex-member)|
|Years Active||1977–1986, 2003, 2007–2008|
|Location||Founded in London|
|Most Successful Songs / Albums||‘Synchronicity” is the highest-grossing album, while “Every breath you take” is the most successful hit song.|
|Social Media||Instagram, Twitter, Facebook|
|Awards||16 Grammy Awards, Inducted into the rock hall of fame in 2003, favorite reunion tour award in 2008, No.70 on Rolling Stone’s Immortals, the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, No.40 on VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.International Album of the Year with “Synchronicity,” Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music|
|Last Updated||May 2022|
The Police Members
What I love about the band is how tight they were and how much they achieved sonically, being only three musicians. They took the classic power trio concept differently with their individual skills.
Even if you have never heard about The Police, you probably know who Sting is. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (born October 2 1951, in Wallsend, Northumberland, England), known as Sting, is a founding member of The Police, the frontman, main songwriter, and bass player.
Born in an English family, he had a typical working-class life helping his father deliver milk daily. He often visited nightclubs to see bands such as Cream play while attending school. Changing multiple jobs from bus conductor to construction worker, he managed to finish University and qualified as a teacher.
Sting got his nickname from always wearing a black and yellow striped shirt while performing jazz at the time. Finally, moving from Newcastle to London, he joined Copeland to form The Police. Sting is a songwriter’s songwriter that masterfully blends genres and innovates himself with every new album.
The most famous of all three members is known to have had a solo career that rivals The Police. Having sold more than 100 million albums and won over 17 Grammy awards, he deserves his own Bio to give a full picture of one of the most influential musicians of the last century.
Andrew James Summers (born December 31, 1942, in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England) was the guitar player of The Police, replacing the original guitarist Henry Padovani.
The oldest of the band, Summers had a prolific career before deciding to join Sting and Copeland. He is a trained musician in classical music and jazz while also having plenty of experience and connections in the rock scene that helped the band make it big.
He played guitar professionally from the mid-60s with the Zoot Money’s Big Roll RnB Band and toured the U.S. with the Jazz Rock band Soft Machine. He also joined The Animals as guitarist and ultimately Strontium 90 before his musical peak with The Police. After the break-up, he collaborated with big names and released solo albums.
Andy is one of my guitar idols for whose guitar style I dedicated an entire section.
Stewart Armstrong Copeland (born July 16, 1952, in Washington, D.C.) was the drummer of the Police and one of the most talented musicians to ever sit behind a kit. His contribution to the sound and groove of the band is an undeniable reason for their success.
Copeland didn’t have a very successful career prior to forming the Police. His first serious bad was the prog rock group Curved Angles, for whom Copeland was the road manager.
Even though it might sound strange now, the band’s frontman was close to firing Copeland for being a novice at the time. The passion and work he still has today got him from that to becoming one of the most influential drummers of all time and a renowned score writer and film producer.
The Police Early Years
The Police were born out of a random encounter between Drummer Stewart Copeland and Sting while both of them were playing with other bands.
When Sting finally moved to London in 1977, one jam with Copeland was enough for them to connect musically. Putting myself in their positions, I believe both of them were astonished by the ability of the other, and natural chemistry was the only possible result.
Having recruited guitar player Henri Padovani, the original trio formed and played their first show on March 1, 1997, in Newport, Wales. They released their first single, “Fall out,” on November 12. Things were not going uphill for the band until they recruited guitarist Andy Summers after playing with him on the band Strontium 90.
Summer’s was much older and advanced musically at the time, with plenty of connection on the scene. Seeing the potential in the trio, Summers agreed to join on the condition that they would always remain a trio. The band would play pubs, open for famous acts, and collaborate with other musicians until finally making their way to their first records deal.
Was The Police a Punk Band?
I don’t believe The Police were ever a Punk band, and the band members’ multiple interviews confirmed my thoughts. The punk movement was at its peak, and the band thought to capitalize on it. However, their musical style was much more intricate and complex from the beginning than British Punk.
The difference between The Police and punk bands was that the musicians were already pros with their styles. Even though they incorporated straight rock grooves, everything else was borrowed from other genres.
Even the famous short bleached hair the band got notorious for where due to a commercial they shot.
Albums and Career
Even though they only released 5 studio albums, it was enough to sell 75 million albums and change rock forever. It struck me how consistent their work is after going through the albums one by one.
Even though the later albums sound better and are perhaps slightly more complex, there is no poor song in their entire discography. The list of collaborators during the years and the details of their discography are fascinating to read.
Outlandos d’Amour (1978)
The first album from The Police was a hard-fought one. Copeland’s brother agreed to finance it, but the band was still on a tight budget and had to do most of the studio work themselves.
My favorite, and probably everyone’s favorite from this album, is the hit single “Roxane.” It peaked at number 12 on the U.K. charts, which meant they would become famous. T.V. appearances and an intelligent marketing campaign by the record label using the slogan “Banned by the BBC” helped push the album.
The individual skills of every member strike at first listen. The first track of the album, “next to you” is the most punk-sounding song from The Police. It was probably chosen specifically because of that reason. Deeper into the album, the mood starts to shit, and more intricate reggae and jazz elements start coming in.
Even though it’s their debut work, it’s a work done by pro musicians. A US tour that followed the album still was low budget.
Reggatta de Blanc (1979)
The band understood that they were on the right path with their first albums, so the second one came quickly. The album quickly topped the charts in the U.K. and made the band famous globally.
Musically It’s a continuation of the same ideas of refined melodies, interesting guitar soundscapes, and groovy drum beats of the first album. What I think is much better is the recording quality and the overall tightness of the band. It seemed like the trio got to blend in perfectly on the second album.
“Message in Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” from the album are now cult songs from that era. Sting still plays the first as an opener to most of his concerts. The world tour that followed was surprising as the band chose non-conventional countries that rarely hosted big bands. The movie ‘The Police Around the World’ encapsulates that tour.
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
The third album peaked at number 1 and was packed with hits. The band declared later that the recording was rushed due to the label’s pressure for new materials. Musically the album is significantly influenced by reggae and pop. The vocal lines are haunting, and live performances of the songs stood out for being full of energy.
The heavy reggae-influenced track “Don’t stand so close to me” is a must-listen from the band and the most successful track from the album. My personal favorite is the ‘weird’ Grammy-winning instrumental ‘Behind my Camel.’ Andy’s guitar solo is truly unique on that track.
Ghost in the Machine (1981)
The following album is where the band started introducing more complex arrangements. They took more time and freedom to record it, and I think the result is astounding. Sound-wise this album is the best work from The Police. The innovative recording techniques and masterful playing contributed to the outcome.
Like the previous two, it reached number 1 in the charts and was full of hit songs. “Every little thing she does is magic’ is probably the most famous tune, while my personal favorite is “invisible Sun,” with the signature riff and deep lyrics.
The band’s last work is also their masterpiece. Synchronicity draws the best out of each member and is considered one of the best albums of all time.
It starts with mind-blowing intricate title track composition and features the biggest hit of the song, “Every breath you take”. The single was so big that it overshadowed even Michal Jackson on its release. It peaked at number 1 worldwide and, in 2009, was introduced to the Grammy hall of fame.
It’s my favorite album from the band, featuring my favorite track, “Wrapped around your fingers’. The soundscape on that song haunts, while the vocal performance from Sting is otherwordly.
The band became the biggest rock act globally, and there was nothing more to reach. The final concert in New York was the moment when the band achieved it all. Unfortunately, the members at the time, especially Sting, felt the same way and started working on their solo projects. Attempts for a new album were made, but it never came to fruition.
The band’s last show of the era was March 4, 1984, in Melbourne, followed by their record-breaking reunion tour two decades later.
The Police Band Management
One of the crucial reasons behind the band’s success is their trustworthy management. The man responsible for giving the initial push to the band and keeping them on track was Stewart Copeland’s brother, Miles Copeland III.
At first skeptical about the band, he agreed to finance their first album after hearing “Roxane.” Miles knew the band would be big and had the right connection to make it happen. After The Police disbanded, he managed Sting’s solos career for many years.
I believe that the trust between the management and the band was the glue that kept the band going strong every moment of the relatively short career.
Most fans don’t realize what happens behind the scenes, yet a bad business side can quickly bring a band to its end. The horror stories of a rock band being left without any support by the labels or having no right to their music are common in the industry as anything else.
My biggest musical regret is not being able to attend the band’s reunion concerts. Having seen Sting live with his band, I know that their performance is unique to participate in. Sting was 71 and yet never skipped a beat or sang a flat note.
The Police – Live Tokyo Dome 2008 (Full Concert)
The band was at its top form in this performance in the 80s.
The Police live in Hamburg | Rockpalast | 1980
One of the band’s last performances before their break up. By that time, they had earned the title of the biggest band in the world.
Sting’s Solo Career
Sting’s solo career is equally or even more impressive than his time with the band. Pushed by the desire to break musical barriers and push the limits of pop and rock, he started in 1985 with his first album and hasn’t stopped even today, with his 15th release in 2021.
His first solo album, “The Dream Of The Blues Turtles,” was both a hit and an elaborate musical work featuring a star’s jazz band. All the other albums followed his musical evolution and refined arrangement that started blending more and more world music.
My favorite album is the third one, “Soul Cages,” which he dedicated to his late parents. The descriptive songwriting of a working class man’s life and the sophisticated, varied composition make it my favorite work from Sting.
The track “Why Should I Cry For You” brings the best of Sting along with the all-star band featuring Vinnie Colaiuta, Dominic Miller, and other greats. An album you might be familiar with is “Ten Summoners Tales.” Both the tracks’ Fields of Gold’ and ‘Shape Of My Heart’ are tunes it’s impossible to miss.
What makes Sting’s solo career more impressive is the number of collaborations he had with various artists. The list features stars from all genres like Zuchero, Shaggy, Cheb Mami, Craig Davids, and many others.
Sting’s Songwriting & Style
The best word to describe Sting’s songwriting is “unexpected.” All the songs he wrote and composed have non-conventional chord progressions and intricate vocal melodies. Combining that with expressive storytelling lyrics and a vocal range makes him impossible to copy.
As he stated in his latest interview with Rick Beato, music is about surprise. He said he would skip a song if nothing unexpected happened in the first 8 bars.
The Sting Interview
Sting always fought against music critics who boxed pop music as a particular enclosed genre. He would always prove them wrong by blending world music, jazz, rock, and even classical music in his time with The Police and as a solo artist.
What’s even more impressive is that he is also one of the most sophisticated rock bass players of all time. His contribution to the band’s music would go beyond bass most of the time, as all members recall most of the writing and composing was done by Sting and the others added their touch to his ideas.
Andy Summers Guitar Style
Andy Summers is the guitar player every band of whatever genre would want to have. He is not a flashy, highly technical player, but he knows how to serve the song as a few players in history.
The combination of excellent note choice and pushing the guitar’s sonic boundaries with a masterful usage of effects defines Andy as a guitarist. The signature clean chorused of “Message in a bottle” and complex chord progression as in “Murder by numbers” are two fantastic moments of his career.
The Police’s Andy Summers Opens Up on his Rocky Relationship with Sting
All you hear in the background, the atmospheric swells, ambiance, and all is Andy’s work. Andy is the blueprint for the ‘texture’ modern guitar player. The mesmerizing part about Andy is that he can shred if he wants and can play complex jazz or classical music.
Stewart Copeland’s Drumming
Even though Sting was the frontman, the band’s virtuoso was Stewart Copeland. Copeland often would go beyond playing the groove to become part of the composition, tasked with gluing together the guitar and bass and filling all the space left.
Copeland’s style blends his jazz roots with a powerful rock groove. He explains in this interview how he usually skipped one of the beats while playing with The Police to create a new groove.
Stewart Copeland Reflects on The Police’s Punk Beginnings
No drummer doesn’t consider Copeland one of the best or hasn’t learned a thing or two from him. Even the majestic Danny Carey admitted to having asked him for an autograph. Copeland’s renowned score writing skills are a big
The Police Bio Recap: How to Get Started with the Band?
Out of all the bands I know every album from, The Police is one of the few where it doesn’t matter where you start. All the albums are masterpieces, different from each other but with the same distinct Police sound. There’s a reason why the band peaked in the charts and never left them from the 2nd album.
Whether you’re a rock fan or you only listen to modern music, you’re up for a delight. If we get lucky enough, the trio with give us another reunion show in the near future.
Answer: The name was inspired by the punk era’s everyday brawl between punks and the Police. It was provocative and clever considering the era.
Answer: Sting is worth around 300$ million in 2022.
Answer: The primary songwriter was Sting, followed by Summers and Copeland.