Sting, the lead singer and bass player for the band, proved to have remarkable song-writing skills, having worked as an English teacher in the past. He had great command of the English language and his lyrics have reflected the writings of Arthur Koestler, Paul Bowles, and Carl Jung.
The original band was founded by drummer Stewart Copeland, who was anxious to re-emerge onto the punk scene in London after the demise of his former group, Curved Air. The original line-up also included Sting on bass and vocals, and Henry Padovani on guitar.
In May of 1977, Sting was invited by Mike Howlett (formerly from the band Gong) to form a short-lived project band named Strontium 90. Joining Sting and Howlett would be guitarist Andy Summers. For lack of a drummer, Sting suggested Stewart Copeland. The four members performed under the name “The Elevators” in London in July of 1977, as well as at a Gong reunion concert, which took place in Paris, in May of that same year. Despite having recorded some demo tracks in 1977, Strontium 90’s music would not be released to the public until twenty years later, with the album Strontium 90: Police Academy.
As a result of the short project, Andy Summers was a phenomenal new addition to The Police. In July, the group was comprised of Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Henry Padovani. Unfortunately, Padovani’s guitar-playing skills were lacking. His stay with the band would only last one more month. The remaining trio would become the rock stars of the eighties whom we know as The Police today.
After struggling to put together their first album, Outlandos d’Amour, on a tight budget, with no representation, The Police finally emerged on the music scene in 1979 with the hit single “Roxanne”. Copeland’s older brother, an entertainment executive, heard the single and decided to help the band out. They immediately scored a record deal with A&M Records and a gig at the infamous New York club, CBGB. The gig was followed by a particularly tough tour of the United States. The band had to make do with one Ford Econoline van to transport them and all of their stage equipment across the country. Although not the most glamorous time for the band, they were finally making headlines overseas.
Their second album, Regatta de Blanc, led to a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the instrumental title track “Regatta de Blanc”. One year after the release of their second album, The Police embarked on a world tour, becoming one of the first major rock bands to perform in such exotic locations as Bombay, India, and Egypt.
The Police’s third album, Zenyatta Mondatta, led to true worldwide fame. It was hailed by critics as one of their best efforts and earned them two Grammy awards. A Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the track “Behind My Camel” and another for Best Rock Vocal Performance For Duo Or Group for the track "Don't Stand So Close To Me".
Despite the widespread success of the band’s following two albums, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity, tensions were high between the lead singer and songwriter Sting and the band founder Stewart Copeland. Sting was becoming more famous in his own right and, due to the great contribution which he had towards song-writing for the band, he began an attempt to exert more control. This did not sit well at all with Copeland. As many bands which have reached worldwide fame, there were the issues of conflicting egos, publicity, and the root of all evil: money. At the end of the Synchronicity tour of 1984, it was clear that the band members were all going their separate ways, despite the lack of an official break-up.
In March of 2003, The Police were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, forcing them into a reunion performance after nearly twenty years. Although they performed three songs together at the ceremony, tensions were high and Stewart Copeland was beating his drums so hard by the end of the last song that the snare drum broke.
Despite these tensions and Sting’s successful solo career, the band has not been forgotten. They were voted #70 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and are rumored to be planning a reunion tour this year to commemorate their 30th Anniversary.