Nominally, The Police were punk rock, but
that's only in the loosest sense of the term. The trio's
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
polyrhythms effortlessly. And Sting, with his high,
keening voice, was capable of constructing infectiously
catchy pop songs.
While they weren't punk,
certainly demonstrated that the punk spirit could have a
future in pop music. As their career progressed,
Police grew considerably more adventurous, experimenting
with jazz and various world musics. 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
Stewart Copeland and
formed the Police in 1977. Prior to the band's
formation, Copeland, the son of a CIA agent, had
attended college in California, before he moved to England
and joined the progressive rock band Curved Air.
Sting was a teacher and a ditch digger who played in
jazz-rock bands, including Last Exit, on the side.
The two musicians met at a local jazz club and decided to
form a progressive pop band with guitarist
For the first few months, the group played local London
pubs. Soon, they were hired to appear as a bleached-blonde
punk band in a chewing gum commercial. While the commercial
provided exposure, it drew the scorn of genuine punkers.
Late in 1977, the band released its first single,
Out" on IRS, an independent label
founded with his brother Miles, who was also the
manager of the Police. The single was a sizable hit for an
independent release, selling about 70,000 copies.