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The Police

The Police

The Police

The Police were arguably one of the most important bands spawned in the late '70s. Their soulful tunes with reggae undertones were original and unforgettable, and their albums have aged extremely well--their first records sound as groundbreaking today as they did when they were released.

The Police was a three-piece British pop band which was strongly influenced by reggae, and came to prominence in the wake of the punk rock phenomenon. The group was formed in 1977 by Stewart Copeland (drummer) who initially recruited Sting (bassist and lead singer) and Henri Padovani (guitarist). This line-up issued the band's first single ('Fall Out') in May 1977. Andy Summers (guitarist) was then asked to join, thus forming The Police. (See also the origins of the band Strontium 90 for a different view of their origins.)

Nominally, the Police were punk rock, but that's only in the loosest sense of the term. The trio's nervous, reggae-injected pop/rock was punky, but it wasn't necessarily punk. All three members were considerably more technically proficient than the average punk or new wave band. Andy Summers had a precise guitar attack that created dense, interlocking waves of sounds and effects. Stewart Copeland could play polyrhythm effortlessly. And Sting, with his high, keening voice, was capable of constructing infectiously catchy pop songs. While they weren't punk, the Police certainly demonstrated that the punk spirit could have a future in pop music. As their career progressed, the Police grew considerably more adventurous, experimenting with jazz and various world music. All the while, the band's tight delivery and mastery of the pop single kept their audience increasing, and by 1983, they were the most popular rock & roll band in the world. Though they were at the height of their fame, internal tensions caused the band to splinter apart in 1984, with Sting picking up the majority of the band's audience to become an international superstar.

Copeland had previously played drums in a gothic band called Curved Air. Shortly after quitting, he caught notice of Sting, then bass player and singer with a jazz fusion group called Last Exit. Sting proved to be a capable songwriter; he had previously spent time as a high school English teacher, and his lyrics are noted for their literary awareness and verbal agility. Material in the later album Ghost in the Machine was inspired by the writings of Arthur Koestler, and material in Synchronicity was prominently inspired by the writings of C.G. Jung. But 'Tea in the Sahara' on the latter album showed interest in Paul Bowles as well.

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The Police

Artist Biography - The Police

When the band recruited Andy Summers, he told Padovani that he wanted to experiment with 'new sounds'. Padovani accepted this, and quit the band.

For the Police, their first album, Outlandos d'Amour was a hardship, working on a small budget, with no manager, record deal, or any kind of contacts. Stewart Copeland's older brother, Miles, heard 'Roxanne' for the first time and immediately got them a record deal with A&M Records. The single was re-released in 1979, and it was then that the Police achieved widespread fame in England. Their success led to a gig at the infamous New York club CBGB. Shortly there after in October 1979, the group released their second album Regatta de Blanc, which spawned the hit 'Walking on the Moon'.

In March of 1980, the Police decided to embark on their first World Tour, which included shows in places like Bombay, India and Egypt. The Police toured the world long before they were a world class act. The much generated hype of their new music and tour caused an outbreak of popularity among new wave devotees across the rest of the world. Pressured by their record company for the recording of a new record and a prompt return to tour by the falls end, the Police quickly released their third album, Zenyatta Mondatta in the fall of 1980. The album gave the group a U.K. number one with 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', which charted successfully in the U.S. Mondatta also gave the Police worldwide fame. It was the last album the group cooperated with together, or as Sting would later put it, the last album they worked on 'as a band.'

Their fourth album, Ghost In The Machine, released in 1981, featured a thicker sound and vocal textures and spawned the hit singles, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Spirits In The Material World.'

They released their last album, Synchronicity, in 1983; it is widely regarded as a classic. Notable songs from that album include 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'. Although there was never an official break-up, each band member gradually began his own solo career. A short-lived attempt to reunite in 1986 produced a re-recording of their song 'Don't Stand So Close to Me'. On March 10, 2003, The Police were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fallout/Nothing Achieving (single) (1977)
Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
Regatta de Blanc (1979)
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
Ghost in the Machine (1981)
Synchronicity (1983)
Every Breath You Take: the Singles (1986)
Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (1993)
Live (1995)
Greatest Hits (1998)

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