Police- Outlandos d’Amour- Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

Outlandos d’Amour has a certain grotesque, naive charm about it,” Sting confesses in this week’s 35th anniversary rockumentary about the Police debut,”but Regatta de Blanc was infinitely a much better record.” He was absolutely correct, of course, but it was due simply to his, Police drummer Stewart Copeland‘s, and guitarist Andy Summers‘ lack of experience in the recording studio, not the songwriting which Sting provided. That is evidenced by Outlandos“Next to You” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” being on par with the quintessential “Roxanne”, but also how the Police chose to perform even more muscularly the jazzy “Hole in My Heart” and “So Lonely” from their debut on their record-setting 2007-2008 world tour. 

Andy Summers was kind enough to recall meeting me & our first interview, on the infamous station wagon Outlandos U.S. tour, in his book One Train Later. However, his memory failed him & in the book he places the meeting in New Mexico or some place in the Southwest (understandable, since I did relocate to Dallas Texas subsequent to our first two interviews). Actually it was Memphis Tennessee at my radio station ROCK 103. The band headlined a concert at the 2600 seat Orpheum Theater in early 1979, but only 200 people showed up. I introduced the band wearing an actual Memphis Police Department riot helmet & uniform shirt. When Sting joined me at the microphone, the first words out of his mouth were,”This should have been in a club.”

After the Orpheum Theater show, Sting & Andy accepted my invitation to go to ROCK 103 at around 12:30 a.m. & record an interview with me. Unfortunately that tape has never been found. What’s REALLY odd is that I can’t seem to find the Memphis Orpheum date on any Outlandos tour schedule, so I think the concert was a last minute date to fill an open day on the tour. With their first inauspicious event in Memphis, I can see why they would choose to forget it!

Much of the interview you now hear on my In the Studio program comes from their return to ROCK 103 Memphis on January 25, 1980. It was the first time anyone had ever sent a limousine to pick me up for lunch. After lunch we recorded the second interview, &  only Sting & Andy could fit into the tiny control room with me. That night they indeed did play a club, the High Roller on Madison Avenue, but by now after Regatta‘s release they had to play two complete shows back-to-back for two completely separate audiences. A CBS television network camera crew from New York City was there filming for some kids news show. As before,the band asked me to introduce them for both shows. The tiny cramped dressing room was immediately behind the equally tiny stage, & all three members plus me were huddled in this space right behind Stewart’s drum chair. I watched Stewart, wearing gym shorts & knee-high  white athletic socks, put on thin driving gloves, then tape over the gloves with duct tape. When I inquired what the heck he was doing, he shoved his left (snare) hand in my face & showed me these huge gashes all over the outside & knuckles of his hands.”When you play reggae,” he explained,”you play the rim of the drum as often as the actual drum head. And your hands get sliced up pretty bad.”

After the second show, after the second packed crowd left, I found myself sitting at the bar with Sting & Stewart with the house lights up full & the waitresses, bus boys, & bartenders flipping the chairs up on the tables to close for the night. All thoughts of their initial humiliating show less than a year earlier had evaporated. The lads were spent physically from the two shows, but even though not a lot was said between us, the overwhelming satisfaction of a very good night , & an even more promising future, was in their eyes as we nodded, then raised our glasses in a toast. – Redbeard
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