Andrew James Somers (born 31 December 1942), known professionally as Andy Summers, is an English guitarist who was a member of the rock band the Police. Summers has recorded solo albums, collaborated with other musicians, composed film scores, and exhibited his photography in galleries.
Summers in 2015
|Birth name||Andrew James Somers|
|Born||31 December 1942|
Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England
|Genres||Rock, jazz, jazz fusion, new wave, new-age, avant-garde|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, photographer|
|Labels||A&M, Private Music, RCA Victor|
|Associated acts||Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, Dantalian's Chariot, Soft Machine, the Police, Robert Fripp, Circa Zero, Gustavo Cerati, The Animals|
Andrew James Summers was born in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. During Summers' childhood, his family moved to Bournemouth, then in Hampshire, England. After several years of piano lessons, he took up the guitar. At an early age he played jazz guitar. In his teens he saw a concert by Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie in London that left a lasting impression. By sixteen he was playing in local clubs and by nineteen he had moved to London with his friend Zoot Money to form Zoot Money's Big Roll Band.
Summers' professional career began in the mid-1960s in London as guitarist for the British rhythm and blues band Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, which eventually came under the influence of the psychedelic scene and evolved into the acid rock group Dantalian's Chariot. In September 1966, Summers was the first guitarist encountered by Jimi Hendrix after landing in the UK. The young Summers is portrayed in fiction as one of the "two main love interests" in Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne's 1969 book Groupie, in which he is given the pseudonym "Davey".
After the demise of Dantalion's Chariot, Summers joined Soft Machine for three months and toured the United States. For a brief time in 1968, he was a member of the Animals, then known as Eric Burdon and the Animals, with whom he recorded one album, Love Is. The album features a recording of Traffic's "Coloured Rain", which includes a 4 minute and 15 second guitar solo by Summers. The LP also included a reworked version of Dantalion's Chariot's sole single "Madman Running Through the Fields".
In London, Summers recorded and toured with acts including Kevin Coyne, Jon Lord, Joan Armatrading, David Essex, Neil Sedaka and Kevin Ayers. In October 1975 he participated in an orchestral rendition of Mike Oldfield's seminal "Tubular Bells".
Summers achieved international fame as the guitarist for the Police, which he joined in 1977, eventually replacing original guitarist Henry Padovani. Emerging from London's punk scene, the Police gained international renown with many hit songs, including "Message in a Bottle", "Roxanne", "Don't Stand So Close to Me", "Every Breath You Take", and "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic". During his time with the band, Summers twice won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, first in 1979 for "Reggatta de Blanc" (written with Copeland and Sting) and in 1980 for "Behind My Camel".
Although Sting was the lead singer of the band, Summers occasionally contributed lead vocals, as in "Be My Girl/Sally" (1978), "Friends" (1980), "Mother" (1983), and "Someone to Talk To" (1983). Other notable Summers compositions from this period are "Omegaman" (which would have been released as the debut single from the 1981 Ghost in the Machine album had Sting not objected), "Shambelle" (1981), "Once Upon a Daydream", and "Murder by Numbers" both co-written with Sting (both 1983). In early 1984, after seven years together and record sales around eighty million, the Police disbanded.
Though not given songwriting credit, Summers wrote the guitar riff for "Every Breath You Take". It was recorded in one take with his 1961 Fender Stratocaster during the Synchronicity sessions. The song was number one for eight weeks. Sting won the 1983 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and the Police won Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal for this song. Summers provides an account of the session in his memoir, One Train Later.
Summers' solo career has included recording, touring, composing for films (including 2010, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, The Wild Life and Weekend at Bernie's), and exhibiting his photography in art galleries around the world.
He recorded the duet albums I Advance Masked (1982) and Bewitched (1984) with guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson, as well as duet albums with Victor Biglione, John Etheridge, and Benjamin Verdery. His solo debut album, XYZ, was released in 1987 and is the only non-instrumental album in his catalogue. Although it included pop material, such as the single "Love is the Strangest Way", it failed to dent the charts. In 1987 Sting invited Summers to perform on his second album ...Nothing Like the Sun, a favour the singer returned by playing bass on Charming Snakes (1990) and later contributing vocals to "'Round Midnight" on Summers' tribute album to Thelonious Monk, Green Chimneys, in 1999. In the mid-1990s Summers briefly returned to a more rock-oriented sound with Synesthesia (1995) and The Last Dance of Mr X (1997) before recording a string of jazz albums.
The Police reunionEdit
During the 2007 Grammys Award show, the Police appeared, playing "Roxanne" and subsequently announcing that they would be going on tour. The Police Reunion Tour began in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on 28 May 2007, and continued until August 2008, becoming the third highest-grossing tour of all time.
In August 2013, Summers announced he had formed a new band, Circa Zero, with Rob Giles from the Rescues. Originally, drummer Emmanuelle Caplette was also a member of the band. Their debut show was 25 July 2013 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. The band's debut album, Circus Hero, was released 25 March 2014. It is titled after a malapropism of the band's name made by a radio disc jockey during an interview of Summers. The first single, "Levitation," was released to US adult album alternative radio on 3 March 2014; and reached number 36 on the Japan Hot 100 chart.
Call the PoliceEdit
In March 2017, Summers announced he had formed Call the Police, a Police tribute band, with two Brazilian musicians, Rodrigo Santos (Barão Vermelho aka Red Baron) on bass guitar and vocals and Joao Barone (Os Paralamas do Sucesso) on drums.
Summers was married to his first wife, Robin Lane, in 1968. They divorced two years later in 1970. He married his second wife, Kate Lunken, in 1973 and they had one daughter in 1978, Layla Zoe Summers. They divorced in 1981 although they would then remarry in 1985. In 1987, Kate and Andy's twin sons Maurice X and Anton Y were born.
Awards and honoursEdit
- Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Reggatta de Blanc", 1979
- Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Behind My Camel", 1980
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with the Police, 2003
- Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, with the Police, 2007
- Honorary doctorate, Bournemouth University, 2008
- Hall of Fame, Guitar Player magazine
- Vote number one pop guitarist, five years, Guitar Player magazine
- Guiding Light Award, Progressive Music Awards, 2016
- 85th guitarist of all time, Rolling Stone magazine
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Gibson Guitar Awards, 2000
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Roland and BOSS, 2017
- His autobiography One Train Later (2006) was voted music book of the year by Mojo and was turned into the 2012 documentary Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police. The documentary was released on DVD in July 2015.
The Police yearsEdit
- Standard, Sunbursts
- Roland G-303 Guitar Synthesizer controller
- Echoplex EP-3 Tape Delay
- Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger and Deluxe Memory Man Delay
- MXR Dynacomp Compressor
- custom Pete Cornish Guitar pedalboard
- Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer
- Moog Taurus 205A Synthesizer Pedals
The above is a list of equipment used by Summers from the 1980s. Since that time he has built a collection of 200+ guitars and uses a wide variety of amplifiers and electronic equipment.
His photography has been on display at art galleries around the world, such as
- Leica Gallery, Los Angeles (2013)
- Paris LA Independent Photo Show (2014)
- photokina, Cologne (2014)
- Shanghai Kunst-Licht Gallery2014 C-C-C Gallery, Beijing (2014)
- Leica Gallery, Sao Paulo (2015)
- Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona (2015)
- XYZ (MCA, 1987)
- Mysterious Barricades (Private Music, 1988)
- The Golden Wire (Private, 1989)
- Charming Snakes (Private, 1990)
- World Gone Strange (Private, 1991)
- Synaesthesia (CMP, 1995)
- The Last Dance of Mr. X (BMG/RCA Victor, 1997)
- Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk (BMG Classics/RCA Victor, 1999)
- Peggy's Blue Skylight (BMG Classics/RCA Victor, 2000)
- Earth + Sky (Golden Wire, 2003)
- Metal Dog (Flickering Shadow, 2015)
- Triboluminescence (Flickering Shadow, 2017)
- I Advance Masked with Robert Fripp (A&M, 1982)
- Bewitched with Robert Fripp (A&M, 1984)
- Invisible Threads with John Etheridge (Mesa, 1993)
- Strings of Desire with Victor Biglione (R.A.R.E., 1998)
- Splendid Brazil with Victor Biglione (R.A.R.E., 2005)
- First You Build a Cloud with Ben Verdery (R.A.R.E., 2007)
- Fundamental with Fernanda Takai (2012)
- Circus Hero with Rob Giles as Circa Zero (429 Records, 2014)
- The Wild Life (MCA, 1984)
- 2010 (A&M, 1984)
- Band of the Hand (1985)
- Down and Out in Beverly Hills (MCA, 1986)
- The Craft (Columbia, 1996)
- "Parade"/"Train" with Robert Fripp (1984)
- "2010"/"To Hal and Back" (1984)
- "Love is the Strangest Way"/"Nowhere" (1987)
As band memberEdit
With The Police
- Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
- Reggatta de Blanc (1979)
- Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
- Ghost in the Machine (1981)
- Brimstone and Treacle (1982)
- Synchronicity (1983)
- Every Breath You Take: The Singles (1986)
- Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (1993)
- Live! (1995)
- The Police (2007)
- Certifiable: Live in Buenos Aires (2008)
- Every Move You Make: The Studio Recordings (2019)
- Love Is (1968)
With Kevin Ayers
- First Show in the Appearance Business (1996)
- Too Old to Die Young (1998)
- Yes We Have No Mananas, So Get Your Mananas Today (EMI/Harvest, 2009)
With Kevin Coyne
- Matching Head and Feet (Virgin, 1975)
- Heartburn (Virgin, 1976)
- In Living Black and White (Virgin, 1976)
- Sign of the Times (Virgin, 1994)
- On Air (Tradition & Moderne, 2008)
With Dantalian's Chariot
- Chariot Rising (Wooden Hill, 1996)
With Eberhard Schoener
- The Book (Ariola 1977)
- Trance-Formation (Harvest/EMI Electrola 1977)
- Video-Flashback (Harvest, 1979)
- Video Magic (Harvest, 1978)
With Strontium 90
- Police Academy (Pangaea, 1997)
- It Should Have Been Me (1965)
- Zoot! (Columbia, 1966)
- Transition (1968)
- Were You There? (Indigo, 1999)
- Fully Clothed & Naked (Indigo, 2000)
- Joan Armatrading, Back to the Night (A&M, 1975)
- Manuel Barrueco, Nylon & Steel (Angel, 2001)
- David Bedford, The Odyssey (Virgin, 1976)
- Gregg Bissonette, Gregg Bissonette (Mascot, 1998)
- Toni Childs, House of Hope (A&M, 1991)
- Deeyah Khan, Ataraxis (Heilo, 2007)
- Jo Jo Laine, Dancin' Man (Polydor, 1980)
- Jon Lord, Sarabande, (Purple, 1976)
- Juicy Lucy, Blue Thunder (Outer Music, 1996)
- Roberto Menescal, Bossa Nova Meets the Beatles (Deck/Jingle Bells 2017)
- Anthony Moore, Out (Virgin, 1976)
- Paolo Rustichelli, Capri/Mystic Jazz (Verve Forecast, 1991)
- Neil Sedaka, Live at the Royal Festival Hall (Polydor, 1974)
- Michael Shrieve, Stiletto (Novus/RCA/BMG, 1989)
- Carly Simon, Hello Big Man (Warner Bros., 1983)
- Sting, Nothing Like the Sun (A&M, 1987)
- Andrew York, Centerpeace (2010)
- Various, Twang!: A Tribute to Hank Marvin & the Shadows (Pangaea, 1996)
- Various, Outlandos D'Americas: Tributo A Police (A Tribute to the Police) (1998)
- Various, As Long As You're Living Yours: The Music of Keith Jarrett (BMG Funhouse/RCA 2000)
- Throb (William Morrow, 1983)
- Light Strings (Chronicle, 2005)
- One Train Later (St Martins, 2006)
- I'll Be Watching You (Taschen, 2007)
- Desirer Walks the Streets (Nazraeli Press, 2008)
- The Bones of Chuang Tzu (Steidl, 2018)
- A Certain Strangeness (University of Texas Press, 2019)
- Welch, Chris. The Complete Guide to the Music of The Police and Sting. London: Omnibus Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-7119-5302-4.
Andy Summers was born Andrew James Summers on December 31, 1942, in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
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I was on this early morning radio station and the guy said, "Yeah, here he is with the new record from Circus Hero!" and I went, "Oh, god. It's Circa. Zero." But anyway I told Rob and he said, "Yeah, we should call the album that." Just to be a little bit weird. I thought about the early Police albums where we had all these weird titles that kind of got people's attention. Might as well have fun with it.
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- Summers, Andy (1983). Throb. William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-02339-8.
- Summers, Andy (2004). Light Strings. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-4324-9.
- Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-37481-5.
- Summers, Andy (2007). I'll Be Watching You: Inside the Police 1980–83. Taschen America LLC. ISBN 978-3-8228-2764-2.
- Summers, Andy (2009). Throb. Nazraeli. ISBN 978-1-59005-256-3.
- Summers, Andy (2018). The Bones of Chuang Tzu. Steidl. ISBN 978-3-95829-403-5.
- Summers, Andy (2019). A Certain Strangeness. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-47731-890-4.
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