“In fact, we had to disguise our true nature as rapacious capitalists by leading the charge of Cultural Revolution.” ~ quote from Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo and Pygmies.
When I heard that drummer Stewart Copeland, of The Police, had penned his life in music, I had to read it. The Police were unusual in popular music in that they combined catchy hooks with solid and often innovative musicianship.
Copeland’s style is an inextricable part of The Police sound. It was the rocket fuel that drove the pop-punk-reggae fusion that was their signature.
Stewart Copeland is truly cosmopolitan. His father, working for the CIA, moved the family to Cairo, and consequently Copeland spent his youth in the Middle East. College was both in the UK and the US, but it was London where he settled and eventually where he formed the band that was to take him all over the world.
What I was searching for was an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of The Police. The “chapter” on this, if you call two pages delivered in a grocery list style an actual chapter, is greatly disappointing to state the least.
However, the book dedicates many pages to the Police reunion tour and here we get a look at life inside “the band bubble.”
You would figure that three well-established millionaire musicians could cheerfully summon up hits from a bygone golden era and happily trot the globe, playing to sellout audiences, in ultra luxurious style and all would be well. Not so.
In fact, I am really surprised that Stewart and Sting (Otherwise referred to by Stewart as the Prophet, Stingo, the Kingdom of Stingdom and a host of other derogatory names.) have not seriously injured each other. I am not joking.
The volatility between Stewart and Sting is legendary and has not mellowed with time.
Copeland’s bluntness makes the tension between himself and The Golden One (another Sting variation) often very funny for the reader:
“My high esteem for you has kept my hands from your throat, my axe from your handsome brow.” Or “They warn me of side effects (of cortisone)-such as irritability and flashes of temper. Good thing I’m in an environment where this won’t be a problem.”
There are some genuinely funny moments, a la Spinal Tap, in Turin, Italy when the band is given a real polizia escort (complete with sirens and flashing lights) only to discover that the band bus and entourage have somehow turned onto the freeway, heading away from the stadium.
On the radio, the stage manager is heard asking, “Uh….is the band going to play tonight?” After getting turned around and after exploring the parking lot for a while, the band is finally driven to the stage where they are now twenty minutes late. The only thing that didn't happen was a good old "Hello Cleveland!" to the situation.
Police fans are going to find Copeland’s book a funny and fascinating look at the often tumultuous, downright ridiculous and truly strange life of a professional musician.
Buy the book here at Amazon.