Stewart Copeland & The Police: Drumming Up the Hits


Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Stewart Copeland was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but soon relocated with his family to Beirut, Lebanon, where his father served as the Middle Eastern city’s CIA Station Chief. It was here that Stewart discovered his talent on — and love for — the drums. His older brother Ian played drums in a local band and, following in his brother’s footsteps, Stewart picked up a pair of sticks and began to play.

Encouraged and assisted by his father, who in addition to his intelligence career was once a trumpeter in The Glenn Miller Band, Stewart’s first teacher was an old jazz drummer. Copeland was a quick student with a good ear and scored his first real gig playing drums while still barely in his teens. A sudden family move to England opened new opportunities for Stewart pursue rock and roll, first as a journalist for a drummer magazine, then as a roadie and then as a drummer for prog-rock group Curved Air. With Curved Air, Stewart made his recording debut on the successful Midnight Wire and Airborne

Rise to Fame: Breakthrough with The Police

Stewart decided to form a trio fashioned on the vibe and energy of punk music. He would call this project “The Police.” The second member of the trio would be guitar player Henry Padovani. A Curved Air performance in Newcastle gave Stewart the chance to find the third piece to the trio puzzle. While in town, he caught the set of a local band called Last Exit. Only one thing caught Stewart’s attention at the concert: the stage presence of the band’s charismatic bass player, a musician/vocalist known as Sting.

When Sting later moved to London, he called Stewart, who  welcomed him into The Police. It would be a move that would change music history. Though the band saw its shares of ups and downs, they went on to become one of the most successful trios of the 1980s. 

The Police: Early Hits

The Police’s meteoric rise to fame began with their debut album, “Outlandos d’Amour,” released in 1978. Propelled by hit singles like “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You,” the album showcased Copeland’s dynamic drumming style, characterized by its intricate rhythms and energetic beats.

The Police's Musical Style and Influences

Throughout the late 70s and early 1980s, The Police dominated the charts with a string of chart-topping albums and hit singles. Their status as one of the biggest bands of the era was cemented and brought them widespread acclaim and a dedicated global fanbase. Stewart’s versatility as a drummer and propelled The Police to international stardom.

Solo Projects and Collaborations

After his last concert with the Police in Australia in March 1984, Stewart began his move beyond the rock arena. He created the score to Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumblefish, an original mixture of traditional percussion, electronically sampled car horns and ticking clocks that would earn him a 1984 Golden Globe nomination. Stewart followed this up with his 1985 docu-drama The Rhythmatist, a journey to Africa to explore the roots of rhythm. Soon afterwards, Oliver Stone called on him to write the scores for Wall Street and Talk Radio. He also collaborated with other artists and musicians like Peter Gabriel and Deborah Harry as well as with orchestras.

Writing Career: Books and Memoirs

In addition to his musical pursuits, Stewart is also an accomplished author, having written several books and memoirs. His memoir, “Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies” (2009), offers a candid and entertaining glimpse into his life and career, detailing his experiences with The Police and his adventures beyond the stage. His second book is Stewart Copeland’s Police Diaries.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. William H Johns

    I love all their songs but the one that really grabs me is spirits in the material world. Two different beats going at the same time intersecting each other. You can listen to one or the other or both at your discretion. What a bitching song. Stewart really kicked ass on the drums as did all of you members. Keep on keeping on.

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