[Updated: October 6, 1999]
"I'VE SEEN THE WORLD SIX TIMES OVER"
After their first meeting in Newcastle in December 1976 it took almost two months before Sting and Stewart performed the first show as The Police together with the guitarist Henri Padovani. In the meantime Sting performed the last few shows with Last Exit at several clubs in London. The Police also recorded the single Fall Out/ Nothing Achieving in a studio in London (the single wasn't released before May 1977).
A few days after the final Last Exit show in London The Police performed their first show as support to Cherry Vanilla in Newport (UK) on March 1, 1977. The energetic set did not last longer than 40 minutes and mainly consisted of material written by Stewart (including the Curved Air song Kids To Blame). After their own performance both Sting and Stewart joined Cherry Vanilla in her backing band. After performing ten shows with Cherry Vanilla in the UK The Police performed support to Wayne County & The Electric Chairs for a tour through Holland (Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Maasbree). In April 1977 The Police joined Cherry Vanilla again for an UK-tour.
The first meeting with Andy Summers took place at rehearsals in London for a project of former Gong bassist Mike Howlett. On May 28, 1977 Andy, Sting, Stewart and Mike performed as Strontium 90 at a Gong reunion at a huge circustent in Paris. With the same lineup the quartet performed as The Elevators in London. Although Mike Howlett said the band would be permanent, the show in London was their final performance.
Andy was impressed by the musical qualities of Sting and Stewart and persisted them to let him join The Police. In the last week of June 1977 The Police performed their first show as a four piece in London. The tension between Andy and Henri increased, mainly because Andy became irritated of the poor musical knowledge of Henri Padovani. A few days after a performance at a punkfestival in Mont de Marsan in the South of France the tensions between Andy and Henri exploded. Henri decided to leave the group. The Police was still facing the problem that clubowners were not really interested in booking them. In October 1977 they were invited to play some shows in Holland as support to Wayne County & The Electric Chairs. When they arrived in Rotterdam absolutely nothing seemed to be organized: no tour, no shows. The Dutch promoter took pity on them and arranged a few shows for The Police as support to The Damned, which also included a show in Paris. They stayed in a hotel in the red-light district, which inspired Sting to write Roxanne.
In November 1977 Andy traveled to München to perform some shows with the German composer Eberhard Schoener, with whom he has worked in the past. Eberhard was also in need of a bassist and a drummer, so Andy contacted Sting and Stewart and asked them to come over to Germany. The Police recorded the album "Flashback" with Eberhard.
In January 1978 The Police started to record their first album "Outlandos d'Amour" at the Surrey Sound Studios in Londen. Nigel Gray produced the album. Truth Hits Everybody was the first recorded song. The final recordings for the album were done in August 1978. In the meantime The Police performed in clubs around London. Stewart brother, Miles Copeland, was impressed when he first heard Roxanne and succeeded in getting a record deal with A&M Records. In May 1978 The Police joined Eberhard Schoener again for an extended German tour. For some performances in the UK The Police hired Kim Turner as their technician. The sound of The Police also changed when Andy started to use echo and dub techniques during their live performances.
In October 1978 The Police were invited to perform some songs for the TV-program "Old Grey Whistle Test" and the "Kid" Jensen's radioshow. Although A&M wasn't willing to finance an US-tour The Police decided to organize a low-budget tour. On October 20 they performed their first show at CBGB's in New York City. Over a period a three weeks they played 23 shows in the Northern US-states and Toronto. When they returned in England they performed a tour as support to Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. The audience seemed to be more interested in The Police than in the main act. It was obvious that the singles Roxanne and Can't Stand Losing You made some impact, although they were hardly traceable in the charts.
The first month of 1979 was spent by another German tour of 20 shows with Eberhard Schoener. On February 21 The Police played for the students of Hatfield Polytechnic, which was filmed by the BBC for the program "Rock Goes To College". During this show Message In A Bottle was played for the very first time, about six months before it became a number one hit in the UK. The months March, April and May were almost completely covered by two extensive tours through the US. Many of the shows were broadcasted by local radiostations, an obvious sign of the growing popularity of the band. On the last day of May The Police started their first UK-tour as headliners by playing a sold-out show in Glasgow. The tour was interrupted by a performance at the Pinkpop festival in Geleen (Holland), which was the breakthrough for The Police in Holland. On August 24 The Police headlined the first day of the annual Reading festival in the UK. During this performance four songs of the forthcoming album "Reggatta de Blanc" were performed. The rest of 1979 was dominated by shows in the UK and the US.
In February and March 1980 The Police toured Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, India, Egypt and Greece. This part of the tour was filmed and documented in the official video "The Police Around The World". After performances in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Germany the tour came to an end with two benefit shows at the City Hall in Newcastle (UK).
During the first week of July 1980 The Police started recording their third album "Zenyatta Mondatta" at the Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum (Holland). The recording was interrupted for performances at festivals in Milton Keynes (UK) and Dublin (Ireland) at which several songs of the forthcoming new album were performed. Two weeks later the recordingprocess ended and on the same day The Police performed at a festival in Werchter (Belgium), which was proceeded by ten shows in the South of France.
On October 15, 1980 The Police performed at the Grugahalle in Essen (Germany), which was broadcasted on TV and radio in several European countries. Like the previous year the last few months of 1980 were mainly spent by touring in Canada and the US. Three shows in England closed the year. The two shows in London were played in a huge circustent, because of the lack of a proper venue.
On January 10, 1980 The Police performed a sellout show at the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York City. Halfway through the show Stewart's bass drum skin broke. Roadies had to take the kit apart to get to the head and change it. Meanwhile, Sting sang The Yellow Rose Of Texas. A week later a show was performed at the small Variety Arts Theatre in Los Angeles and it was announced that only blondes would be admitted (it didn't matter whether they dyed their hair, sprayed it, or anything else, as long as it ended up blonde). The Police topped off the show by doing an encore and coming back on stage all wearing black wigs.
After a month of touring in Japan, New Zealand and Australia scheduled shows in Germany and Scandinavia had to be cancelled because of exhausting of the band. The next few months were mainly spent on individual projects. In June 1981 the recording for the fourth album "Ghost In The Machine" started at the Caribbean island of Montserrat and was produced by Hugh Padgham. A few of the new album were first performed in Philadelphia and Oakville in the last week of Augustus 1981. After Sting contributed to four shows for Amnesty International at The Secret Policeman's Ball in London, The Police played seven shows in Germany. The next two months The Police didn't tour, because was Sting's involvement in the movie "Brimstone & Treacle". For the first time in two years a serious UK-tour of nine shows was played, which was proceeded by a surprise performance at The Marquee club in Londen. During the first two weeks of 1982 shows were performed in several European cities. The remaining part of the worldtour mainly consisted of sixty shows in the US.
In December 1982 the recording for the fifth album "Synchronicity" started at Montserrat. On July 23, 1983 the first show of the Synchronicity worldtour was performed at the Comiskey Park in Chicago. On August 18 The Police performed at Shea Stadium in New York City. All 67.000 tickets for this show were sold within five hours. The year 1983 came to an end with four shows at the Wembley Arena in London. After playing two shows in Italy and fourteen shows in the US the worldtour ended with shows in Auckland, Sydney and the final show in front of 60.000 people in Melbourne on March 4, 1984.
Only at two occasions The Police reunited to play live. In June 1986 they performed three shows at the Conspiracy Of Hope tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Amnesty international. The Police headlined in Altanta, Chicago and East Rutherford after performances of Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams and U2. On August 22, 1992 the trio played Roxanne and Message In A Bottle at the wedding of Sting and Trudie in Wiltshire.
[The Police bootlegs]
[Interviews & articles]
Rogier's Police Page
© Rogier van der Gugten, Utrecht, 2002