The above photo is of my Uncle Mark and The Police front-man Sting in Florida. A soon to be U.S. Navy SEAL, at 22 he was a working as a hooker. Even though it seemed entirely possible that he was Magic Mike before his time, he was not in fact a gigolo. As a “hooker” he would hang off helicopters and snag bags of cancelled checks and transport them bank to bank throughout southern Florida, bypassing the incredible traffic of the sunshine state. As a kid he would dress like Superman, skate empty swimming pools without permission and refused to leave the magnetic draw of the ocean during most days of his high school career. Deemed incorrigible by most educators, he bounced around doing various jobs, and ultimately decided that the Navy Seals provided the proper adrenaline rush he needed, as well as an aquatic environment he had been best suited for since childhood. Growing up with two older sisters, he never had any real brotherly type relationships until he was on the teams. The bond that they share is still evident today, but back in Miami Sting wanted to windsurf and had no wetsuit. My Uncle was more than happy to lend him his, a massive fan himself, and the picture that follows tells the rest of how the story probably went after. Sting and Uncle Mark at Miami Beach…feels right.
After their eventual formation in England, led by a former schoolteacher named Gordon, The Police took America by storm throughout the 1980’s. The trio of Gordon Sumner, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers was an unstoppable force of fused punk-pop-reggae-rock combined with intricate melodies and lyrics crafted by Sting, during the first stage of his metamorphous into one of the greatest song writers of all time. “Roxanne” was his first opus, a dark, catchy love song to a real “hooker” that became a memorable classic. The BBC refused to play the song, so The Police spread the word that it was banned from the network because of its subject matter, which helped build their reputation as punk rock revolutionaries. The city of Austin, Texas is no stranger to incredible artists and is directly responsible for leading us to the brilliance of The Police, as stated by Sting at a spring concert there in 1983 after they had made it huge.
“There was a record called Roxanne, which came out in England. Nobody gave a fuck about it. Nobody played it. By accident it ended up in a radio station in Austin, Texas. I’m not bullshitting, this is true. They played it on the radio station and people phoned up and said they liked it. The radio station next door picked it up and the town next to that picked it up. And we found ourselves with a hit. This all happened in Austin, Texas. I knew we had arrived when I was lying in bed in my hotel room one morning months later, and the window washer outside was singing Roxanne.”.-Sting
The five albums they released throughout their tumultuous time together as artistic brothers that often fought off stage, were masterpieces carved out of chaos. All of them have hits, can be defined together as well as separate, in sound and style and all have impeccably cool titles. Never afraid to experiment, from massive gongs to exotic recording locations, their mentality inspired literally the most played song of all time. In May of 2019, “Every Breath You Take” was recognized by BMI as being the most played song in radio history. With nearly 15 million radio plays it surpassed The Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” which had held the record for two plus decades prior. A stalkers perspective that is often misconstrued and played inappropriately at weddings, it’s hauntingly beautiful, rhythmically superior chorus instantly became one of those songs you are stoked to hear randomly come on the radio. “Synchronicity” may have lost best album to “Thriller” in 1983, but best song went rightfully so to The Police for “Every Breath You Take” over “Billie Jean”. That’s a fucking incredible thing to say out loud, knowing it’s true. After they played a sold-out Shea Stadium that same year, Sting proudly declared to the screaming sea of people before him “We’d like to thank The Beatles for lending us their stadium.” Pretty much.
After the world tour was over, in March of 1984, The Police called it quits. Sting went on to a massive solo career, Andy and Stewart both worked on passion projects throughout the years on soundtracks, different groups, etc. The extent of the much-desired reunion was limited to them doing a quick set in 1992 at Sting’s wedding after excessive cocktails of nostalgia, and guests prodding at them to play. In 2007 they announced that after twenty plus years they would return, and the world rejoiced. As did I. My parents were huge fans, and they were a constant during family road trips. The music had literally transcended through the generations of my family starting with them and my uncle, to me, and finally my youngest brother Ryder, who was born 5 years after they broke up. Doesn’t matter your age or generation…everybody loves The Police.
So, the stage of this epically awaited moment was to take place at The Palace of Auburn Hills on July 17, 2007. Mom, Dad, Ryder and I were going. To see The Police. And we had fucking floor seats baby. Ryder was in his last year of high school, stuck in the car with my parents for four hours on the drive down. I was in college, less than two hours away and when I finally was on the exit ramp of I-75 at a standstill in concert traffic, I got the call. “Where are you?”. After explaining my exact location on the offramp he simply said “cool” and hung up. I shit you not within maybe five seconds I glanced in my side view mirror and saw his 6’5 uncoordinated, lanky ass running between the deadlocked cars like a white Usain Bolt, directly towards me. As he launched into the passenger seat, completely out of breath from running the fastest quarter mile he’s ever run, he looked at me and said “Oh my god dude I’m so glad you’re fucking here…. I’ve been in the car with Mom and Dad for 4 hours and I have no pot…. please tell me something good.” I’ve never seen him so happy to see me in my whole life, and still find his question that day amusing. It was the band I had waited since childhood to see…of course I had weed. I don’t know what impressed my brother more that night. How good The Police were live, or how Mom, Dad and I knew every lyric of every song. It was an incredible experience, and I truly hope it’s one of the last and longest memories I see when my eyes flash at the end of this life. That’s how fucking good this concert was.
The Police were the highest grossing musicians in 2008, almost a quarter of a century after last touring. They have produced multiple classic hits, including definitively the best song ever written, purely based on how many times it has been replayed through the decades by radio stations world-wide. More so, their catalogue of simple three chord songs became the traditional soundtrack for our family, and always will be. Below are some of the best examples of my heritage.
- O My God
- Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
- Next To You
- Wrapped Around Your Finger
- Don’t Stand So Close To Me
- Walking On The Moon
- King Of Pain
- So Lonely
- De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
- Spirits In The Material World
- Every Breath You Take
- Can’t Stand Losing You
- Message In A Bottle
- When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around
- Bring On The Night
- Tea In The Sahara
- Demolition Man
- Walking In Your Footsteps
- Driven To Tears