Giving us a plethora of classic hits including Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Message in a Bottle and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, the Police are one of the best-selling bands of all time with over 75 million records sold.
Below are 10 things you might not have realised about the band, who saw four of their five studio albums feature on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’
10. Sting worked as a teacher before pursuing a career in the music business
The Police formed when American drummer Stuart Copeland met singer and bass player Gordon Sumner, a former teacher who was soon given the nickname Sting due to a black and white striped jumper he often wore.
The pair later enlisted guitarist Henry Padovani, who was soon replaced with Andy Summers when Sting became frustrated with Padovani’s “rudimentary abilities” on the guitar.
9. Roxanne earned the band a record deal
Stuart Copeland’s older brother Miles was initially unimpressed with the efforts of his sibling’s band, but after he heard them play Roxanne at the end of a recording session, he very quickly secured them a lucrative deal with A&M Records.
The trio’s 1978 debut album Outlandos d’Amour – which featured the aforementioned Roxanne as well as Can’t Stand Losing You – would go on to reach number six on the UK Albums Chart.
8. Roxanne was falsely advertised as being ‘banned by the BBC’
Roxanne failed to chart the first time it was released largely due to it failing to make the BBC’s coveted playlist, which the band believed was down to the song’s controversial depiction of prostitution.
A&M Records promoted the song with posters claiming it was ‘banned by the BBC,’ but Stuart Copeland later admitted that was completely untrue, saying “we got a lot of mileage out of it being supposedly banned by the BBC.”
7. The band’s second single WAS banned by the BBC
In a curious twist of fate – or perhaps Karma catching up with them after their previous false claims – The Police’s second single Can’t Stand Losing You was indeed banned by the BBC.
This was due to the single’s cover, which depicted drummer Stuart Copeland hanging by his neck over a block of ice that for some reason was being melted by an electric radiator.
6. Their third album featured the UK’s best selling single of 1980
The Police would go on to release the albums Reggatta de Blanc – which featured the hit single Message in a Bottle – and Zenyatta Mondatta, which was recorded in just three weeks in The Netherlands for undisclosed tax reasons.
Reggatta de Blanc gave the band their third UK number one hit in the form of Don’t Stand So Close to Me, which was the UK’s best-selling single of 1980.
5. Cracks started to form when Sting became a big star in his own right
After the release of their fourth album Ghost in the Machine, The Police took a break when all three members decided to pursue their own solo projects.
This was partly due to the fact that Sting was becoming a big star in his own right, which led to him testing his acting chops in films like Quadrophenia, Brimstone and Treacle and Dune.
4. They recorded their final album in separate rooms
The Police’s fifth and final album Synchronicity would go on to become a massive success, but by this time the picture behind the scenes was far from rosy.
In fact, internal disputes meant that relationships between the band’s members had become increasingly tense, leading to the trio recording their musical contributions in separate rooms.
3. Every Breath You Take is the most played song in the history of radio
The success of Synchronicity saw several critics award The Police the title of “the biggest rock band in the world.”
The album spawned the band’s only US number-one single Every Breath You Take, which was recently voted the second greatest single of the 1980s in a Channel 5 poll, and is the most played song in the history of radio with almost 15 million plays.
2. Plans for a sixth album were abandoned when Stuart Copeland broke his collarbone
In July 1986 the band reunited to record a sixth album, but these plans had to be abandoned when Stuart Copeland fell from a horse and broke his collarbone.
Andy Summers later revealed it wasn’t just the riding accident that aborted their reunion attempts, saying “it was clear Sting had no real intention of writing any new songs for The Police, it was an empty exercise.”
1. A reunion tour in 2007-08 was one of the most lucrative of all time
Twenty years after they went their separate ways, The Police reunited for a reunion tour that coincided with the 30th anniversary of their formation.
All tickets for the UK leg of The Police Reunion Tour sold out within 30 minutes and worldwide an unbelievable 3.7 million tickets were sold, with the subsequent $358 million in revenue making the trio the highest-earning musicians of 2008.