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Stewart Copeland


Stewart Copeland was born on July, 16th 1952 in Virgina (USA), but very soon moved with his family in the Middle East, Beirut, where he grew up and where he started playing drums.
Following the footsteps of his brother Ian, who started playing drums in a local band in Beirut, Stewart soon realised 'that' was his job, having the chance to join a band and started playing; everybody realised 'that' was his job!
Learning music in a professional way, thanks to his father who already played in an orchestra,
Stewart decided that was the aim of his life; the family moved to England and that gave Stewart the opportunity to enter the world of rock'n'roll, first working as a journalist for a drummer magazine, then as a roadie for some local bands, including Curved Air, and when the band needed a new drummer, Stewart got the place in 1974/1975.
A couple of releases saw the name of Stewart Copeland on drums: 'Midnight Wire' (1975) and 'Airborne' (1976), two succesful albums for the prog-rock UK band, where Stewart met Sonja Kristina on vocals, who later became his wife.

Punk days were coming and Stewart was on his way to form a new band, following the vibes and energy of punk; he wanted to create a trio based on drums, guitar and bass, and already had a guitar player available to follow his project; Henry Padovani joined Stewart new project called THE POLICE, a provocative name for that time in the UK, but a good marketing choice, as that name was everywhere in the streets of London, due to everyday fights between punks and policemen!
A concert for Curved Air in Newcastle gave the chance to Stewart to go and see a local band called Last Exit, a jazzy band, invited by a journalist (Phil Sutcliff) who wanted him to see the band live; the bassist player was Sting, who later was introduced to Stewart through Phil; the presence of Sting on stage was the only thing that caught the attention of Stewart that night, and he could see that was the bassist player who could be part of THE POLICE project. Stewart gave his phone number to Sting and told him that if he ever would come to London looking for a place to stay and a band to join, that was his contact.
Sting later decided it was time to leave definetely Newcastle to go to London and make it, without having a clue about what was going to happen, only with a phone number on his pocket, and with a wife, the actress Frances Tomelty, and a little kid.
Stewart got the phone call and was happy to invite that charismatic musician he met in Newcastle, but at the same time was afraid that Sting and Henry would play together, because of the different kind of approach to the music and to the instrument; Sting was a more sophisticated musician, with a jazzy background, while Henry was the classic punk guitarist, with lots of energy but nothing more to give.
Punk needed that vibe and that energy, and soon Stewart realised it wasn't exactly what Sting was looking for, but that was the mainstream on those days.
Songs were written by Stewart, with a littel help from his brother Ian; 'Fall Out' and 'Nothing Achieving', included in the first Police single, were written by both.
Sting realised he could do better that the average punk musicians and started giving ideas to Stewart, writing some new stuff and in some cases, using some of his older stuff to be included in the Police repertoire, with some changes in the structures.
A Gong reunion in France saw the band playing as a quartet, with another guitar player called Andy Summers, asked by Mike Howlett to join the Police for the show and to record some material he was working at; they soon realised that this experienced guitar player could be perfect for the band, and when Andy Summers asked the band to be their guitar player, after he saw them playing live at the Marque a few weeks later, Stewart, Sting and Henry accepted him in the band; Stewart project was now a quartet, and kept on working like that until the more complicated songs written by Sting became an obstacle for Henri; it was time to take a decision and Henri was asked to leave the band because of a different direction taken by the Police.
Early days weren't that easy and the 'punk' label didn't fit to the Police at all; Stewart could easily see his project was becoming something different but at the same time he was extremely optimistic about the evolving situation; Sting got even asked by Billy Ocean to join his orchestra to tour, and was convinced by Stewart to give up that idea, and to believe in his project. Money were the main problem for the band who couldn't find a decent producer.
Andy Summers still had an older commitment with a German avant-gard electronic musician, and asked him to bring his new band mates to play; Eberard Schoener was more than happy to have the band and asked them to tour on his laser theatre; this gave The Police the chance to get some money to invest in the recording of their first album, produced by The Police with Nigel Gray, who could find the right way to the new sound played by the band, with lots of reggae influence, pop-rock and still some punk vibes.
Another important technician who gave the band an helping hand with the sound was Kim Turner, who followed the band live; this gave the Police a different impact on the crowd, used to listen to dry punk guitar riffs. With this whole new improved sound, Andy, Stewart & Sting were ready to make history....but it wasn't that easy!

'Outlandos D'Amour' came out on October 1978, on A&M Miles Copeland, now the manager of the band, soon realised there was a 'classic' among their songs, while listenings to the band rehearsing; 'Roxanne' was eventually brought to A&M in Los Angeles and Miles got a deal they couldn't refuse, without asking for money, but simply let them release the album; all the rest of the promotion was in his hand and Ian Copeland arms in the US, where the band got the opportunity to tour twice at the end of 1978 and the spring of 1979.
The original sound of the Police became a trademark and record by record the band found its own place in the music history.
'Reggatta De Blanc' saw the Police touring the world, from Asia to Australia, from Europe to North-Africa, from South to North-America; the Police exploded with 'Message In A Bottle' where the recognisable Stewart drumming gave him a place of great respect among the world of drummers, and his original style is still one of the most influential for rock bands.
TAMA drums, in his early years, adopted Stewart as main artist, and the Japanese society became a big name in the business.
Fame and fortune at last arrives for Stewart project The Police: 'Zenyatta Mondatta', the third album of the band released in 1980, mark the status of the most important rock band of the world, and songs like 'Don't Stan So Close To Me' and 'Dedododo Dedadada' becomes hymnes. But the Police now have to face the predominant image of Sting as indiscussed leader of the band; he writes most of the songs, his image has now become an icon in the music.
Nobody denies the importance of Stewart drumming and Andy guitar sounds that make the sound of the Police, together with Sting voice and his reggae influenced dub lines, but the band seems to suffer an over-exposure after the last four years spent around the world and in studio recordings.
The recording of 'Ghost In The Machine' saw the band moving to Montserrat Island in the Caribbean Sea, away from everybody, in complete relax with themself, but this turns out to be more complicated as the band started arguing about songs and about different kind of issues; just like brothers, the members of the Police sorted out all their different egoes and the new producer Hugh Padgham found himself in the condition of leaving the studio sessions after a few days of work; he then decided to remain, but the situation wasn't that easy.
"Ghost In The Machine' was released and became another great success.
The final chapter arrives with 'Synchronicity', recorded in the winter of 1982/1983, and released in July, but the tour found the band taking the decision of give up the project at his peak; The Police are now first in the charts everywhere, and every thing they do is a succesful move; the concert at the 'Shea Stadium' in New York City has to be considered the main chapter in the story of the band who realised there is no more than that, and that the project of the band should be stopped, in order to come back in case there would be more things to say and to give to the music, instead of repeating the same old formula and have an easy but inevitably boring succesful episodes to come.
The three of them found the decision to a momentary split as a new door to open, as a new challenge, as a bit of fresh air in their career as musicians; Stewart has always said that leaving the Police was like leaving school, enter a new 'adult' world, like abandon the golden cage, and this could only represent a growing step in the life of a musician; not so many artists could easily face a decision like this, and it wasn't easy at all for the three members of the band, but year by year they realised that the decision taken at the pick of their career

In 1984, after the last concert with The Police in Australia in March, Stewart Copeland consider the momentary split of the Police as 'leaving school'!
It's time to leave the 'family' that brought him fame, success and a lot of money; his own project has become a golden cage, and the chance to work on something different is giving him the strenght to experiment on new sounds, new directions.
There is no doubt that the years spent with The Police will remain the most important step in his musical career until today, like the most important soundtrack of his life.
And it's exaclty the world of soundtracks that will give Stewart the opportunity to start a new career in the movie business; the first chance arrived a couple of years before, while recording 'Synchronicity'; in the same days Stewart was working on the soundtrack to a Francis Ford Coppola movie called 'Rumblefish', a fantastic album that will open the doors to several movie productions to follow.
In 1985 Stewart releases a movie on his own, based on a journey to Africa to explore the roots of rhythms, called 'The Rhythmatist'; these kind of project were impossible to follow while on tour with the Police, or recording a new album with them.
More offers arrive on Stewart table, and day by day, Stewart becomes one of the most requested musician in Hollywood.
In 1986 The Police reform to play on a three day tour for Amnesty International, in the US, and this gives the chance for the three of them to work together again, but everything failed, as while re-recording some of the tracks to be included in a 'best of' album, tensions between members arise again, and Stewart got injured while playing polo; that won't allow him to play for some time while Sting has to come to Italy to act in a new movie at the same time.
All of these reasons let the band decide to stop recording together again, and put out a 'Greatest Hits' album with only one song re-recorded ("Don't Stand So Close To Me '86").
Stewart keeps on working for some other soundtracks, but in 1988 a new project brought him to start touring again and working as a drummer for a rock band!

One of the most famous bassist player of all times, Stanley Clarke, starts playing with Stewart Copeland and both of them realises that something interesting may comes out; Stewart is collaborating with Debbie Holland for a soundtrack, and she let him listen to a few song she wrote; Stewart finds them so interesting that asks her to produce them with Stanley Clarke; both of them play the songs, arranging and producing the whole records, and the three of them think it could be interesting releasing an album under the name ANIMAL LOGIC.
Stewart finds himself again in the music business as a drummer for a rock band, and the tour that follows the release of the album ("Animal Logic") brings him again on stage in front of big crowds, where fans of the Police and fans of Stanley Clarke see the project as a great chance to witness two 'monsters' of rhtyhms playing on the same stage!
Everything went so well the ANIMAL LOGIC record a second album ("Animal Logic II" 1991), but this time no concerts are involved. There won't be no other ANIMAL LOGIC releases in the future.


On the decade that follows the Eighties, the most prolific period in Stewart Copeland life, the world of soundtracks keeps on being the main job for the drummer, now better know as composer.
Not only movies are involved: a major request from the Cleveland Opera already commissioned an opera to Stewart in the past, called 'Holy Blood & Crescent Moon', and now ballet scores.
This is so interesting for Stewart that his name becomes awarded in the Hollywood scene as one of the most important composers.
Stewart has always been a prolific composer, even before the Police emerged (he already released a few singles in 1978, and a following album under the name of 'Klark Kent'), but the Police needed a different touch brought by Sting.
Stewart has always had a certain music culture and knowledge that allowed him to work on different projects, from classical to jazzy and all of that surfaces in the several releases during the Nineties.


In 1999 Stewart got asked to produce a song in the Primus album, an alternative US rock band whose bassist Les Claypool is known as one of the most interesting musicians of the decade.
Stewart got involved and find him so impressive that made him play with Les on some improvised stuff; they both jammed and asked Trey Anastasio, from Phish, to join for a Festival to be held in New Orleans in 2000, where Les has been invited. The three of them rehearsed on some classic tunes, like 'House Of The Rising Sun' and some Led Zeppelin tracks; at the same time some original songs were written and that concert remained an unforgettable night.
It took some months to see the guys play together again, as some of the tracks written in 2000 resulted very good, and the critic was so enthusiastic the Stewart, Les and Trey decided to record an album, under the name of Oysterhead.
The band released and album in October 2001, and a tour of the US saw the band playing in front of screaming crowds, all waiting to listen to thee incredible musicians on the same stage.
Stewart is so impressive on drums that people still think it's too bad that a band like the Police couldn't reform to play again and to show there is still a great potential coming from three musicians like Andy Summers, Sting and Stewart Copeland.
None of the three musicians has ever said that The Police have broken up, and this is a hope for every fan, but it seems like none of them is doing anything to bring them together.


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