Here is The Police performing "Every Breath You Take".
Though they often times fall under the heading of punk rock, The Police possess much a broader musical presence. Punk elements were employed by the band, but they also dabbled in the sounds of reggae, jazz and pop. Not only was their sound more diversified than the simple category of punk, but members of the group were also interested in a borader spectrum of styles. The Police do not fit into the group of kids in their late teens and early twenties trying to start a band. Instead, The Police was formed by a group of musicians who were already established, if not entirely professional. As such, they were one of the most innovative New Wave bands.
Perhaps the most key member of the Police is Gordon Sumner, the man we commonly know as Sting. Born in 1951 in the town of Wallsend in Northeast England, Sumner once worked as a school teacher and ditch-digger before he met another future Police member, Stewart Copeland. Sumner had been a bass player with several small bands in England, among them, Earthrise, Phoenix Jazzmen and Last Exit.
It was while with the Jazzmen that Sumner earned his more widely known name. He was spotted by a fellow band member in a striped yellow sweater that gave him the appearance of a human bumblebee, and so Sumner became Sting. But it was while playing with the jazz fusion band, Last Exit, that he caught the attention of Stewart Copeland in 1977.
Copeland, born in Virginia, had attended college in California before moving to England. Once in England, he joined the progressive rock group, Curved Air as their drummer. Copeland sought out Sting at a jazz club in England where Last Exit was playing they decided to form the band we know as The Police. They had the aim to start a progressive pop band and picked up one more member in the guitarist Henry Padovani. After playing in small British venues, they were selected to play the part of a punk band in a bubble gum commercial. All of their hair had been bleached blonde for the ad and, although they did gain exposure, they were also looked upon with disgust by genuine punkers.
By the end of 1977, with the help of their manager, Stewart's brother Miles, they recorded "Fall Out", their first single, with I.R.S. records, an independent label started by the Copeland brothers. "Fall Out" was successful enough to sell 70,000 copies and prompted the band to replace Padovani with Andy Summers, a former member of the second group of the Animals, The Zoot Money Big Roll Band and a player with Neil Sedaka.
In the spring of 1978, The Police signed on to A&M Records where they released their first version of "Roxanne", which failed to sell very well. Despite this setback, the band packed up and went on tour, minus an album to support. After having traveled America in a rented van playing with rented equipment, they returned and released their first album in 1978, "Outlandos D`Amour" that did very well in the charts of both Britain and America. The Police's success as a band was beginning to blossom and by 1979 a re-released version of "Roxanne" stood proudly at number 12 in the charts, boosting "Outlandos D Àmour" to number six.
1979 proved to be a prosperous year for the band with the release of the album, Regatta de Blanc, featuring the single "Message in a Bottle" that became a hit. Manager Miles Copeland gave the band the unique opportunity after the release of this record to tour some countries that normally did not host rock concerts such as India, Greece, Mexico, Thailand and Egypt.
Sting also had a fruitful side trip into the realm of acting in 1979 when he appeared in a British movie based on the Who album, Quadrophenia. By 1980, The Police released their third album, Zenyatta Mondatta, that was a stunning success in the United States sailing into the top ten. Singles that are still popular today got their starts on this album such as Don't Stand So Close to Me and De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, both which held top ten spots in America. In England and Canada this album was also extremely popular being number one in the former country.
In 1981, The Police sold out at Madison Square Garden, which prompted the band to record its fourth album. This album was produced by Hugh Padgham at the BBC and the sessions were recorded on film for a BBC documentary. The album, Ghost in the Machine was released in the autumn of 1981 and proved to be another hit containing the single "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic."
Overwhelmed by the sudden success that won them three Grammys and the title of Best British Group at the first Brit Awards, the band took a sabbatical in 1982. Still playing at concerts in the U.S., the members of The Police focused mainly on solo endeavors. Sting returned to acting and appeared in Brimstone and Treacle as well as releasing a single "Spread a Little Happiness" from the soundtrack of the latter film. Copeland wrote the score for Rumble Fish, a Francis Ford Coppola flick and collaborated with Peter Gabriel as well as releasing an album under the name of Klark Kent. I Advance Masked was the instrumental album that Sumner completed with Robert Fripp.
Synchronicity was released as The Police's 5th album in 1983, skyrocketing into the number one spot in England and the U.S. Singles like "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" pushed Synchronicity right into the status of a multi-platinum sensation. The Police responded to the success of the album by undertaking a gargantuan world tour that would set the pace of rock and roll tours throughout the rest of the 1980s.
However, all good things must come to an end. After the tour The Police announced that they would be taking a break to work on side projects, but they never returned. Although they never officially broke up, we have not heard from the band as a whole since. Some speculate that it was the intense popularity of Sting that caused an ego battle between the band members making tensions too high to continue. The group has reunited only once to play at Sting's wedding in 1992.
And of all the members, it is Sting who has managed to change his style over the years to continue to hold a wide audience. Sting's solo work has come in a steady stream beginning with "The Dream of the Blue Turtles" record in 1985. He has also achieved great success with 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales with the hits "Fields of Gold" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You." Sting's most recent album, Brand New Day, was released in 1999.
Despite Sting's solo success, The Police remain quite prominent today and their songs can be heard everywhere, from pop radio stations to classic rock and alternative stations. Some may even consider The Police as a band to be more successful than Sting.
Page author: N.G. & C.F.