The Police 1

The Police, l-r Summers, Copeland, Sting

The Police were a pop/rock band formed in London in 1977. In a relatively short time, from the end of the 70s to early 80s they became the most successful band in the world and remain one of the most famous in modern popular culture. Their music represented a crossover of post-punk rock and pop, often incorporating elements of reggae.

Originally a three piece - Sting (real name Gordon Sumner, bass & vocals), Stewart Copeland (drums), Henry Padovani (guitarist) - the band began playing live and issued their first single Fall Out b/w Nothing Achieving in May 1977. A few months later veteran guitarist Andy Summers was also invited to join and although the group existed for a short time as a four-piece, Padovani was soon dropped and the classic trio of Sting/Summers/Copeland performed their first live gig on 18 August 1977.

1976-08-23 SH 1 cover Police

Smash Hits cover, August 1979

The Police made their first UK television appearance in October 1978 on BBC2's The Old Grey Whistle Test to promote the release of their debut album Outlandos d'Amour. Reaction to the album and its single releases Roxanne and Can't Stand Losing You was tepid in the UK, with no mainstream success forthcoming. Thanks to Stewart Copeland's American connections however, the group gained their first commercial success in the US and Canada. A UK re-issue of Roxanne the following year finally gained the band widespread recognition in the UK when it peaked at no.12 in May 1979. Likewise a re-release of Can't Stand Losing You reached no.2 in the summer of the same year. The debut album followed suit, peaking at no.6 almost a year after its initial release.

In the meantime The Police had been working on new material and a brand new single Message In A Bottle was released in September 1979 ahead of their second album, entitled Regatta de Blanc. New songs had already been previewed in a session for John Peel, recorded on 23 July 1979. (Peel had recently seem them live and had been impressed, much to his surprise.[1]) The group's fortunes in mainstream pop and rock tastes continued as Message In A Bottle took just two weeks to get to no.1 in the UK, with the parent album going straight to the top in October, outselling new LPs by Blondie and Gary Numan).[2] A second single release, and a second UK no.1, followed with Walking On The Moon. A re-issue of the Outlandos d'Amour track So Lonely gave The Police their first hit of the 1980s. With the public keen for more Police material a retrospective 6 x 7" single bundle entitled 'Six Pack' was released in June and reached number 17 in the UK singles chart although was later classified as an album.[3]

1980-10-16 Smash Hits 1 cover The Police

Smash Hits cover, October 1980

A third album Zenyatta Mondatta was rush-recorded and finally released in October 1980, just after the lead single Don't Stand So Close To Me, which became their third no.1 and the UK's biggest selling single of the year. The follow-up single, De Do Do Do De Da Da Da, released in December, only reached no.5, although both singles went to no.10 in the US. The parent album had in the meantime become their second no.1 album in the UK.

The band took more time to record their fourth album (mostly in Monserrat) and Ghost in the Machine was finally released in October 1981, preceded by the single Invisible Sun which marked a very different style of song writing for the band. Nonwithstanding the change of style, the single reached no.2 in the UK (kept off the top by Adam & The Ants) and the album had no difficulty in making in three-in-a-row as UK no.1 album.[4] A more lightweight album track Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic was released as the second single and assured the Police their fourth UK no.1 single. A third single release Spirits in the Material world (their first track to feature a synthesizer), while not as successful as its predecessors, peaked at no.12 in Britain and no.11 in America. 

At the 1982 Brit Awards in London, The Police received the award for Best British Group, and were nominated for the Outstanding Contribution to Music award. After the Ghost in the Machine Tour concluded in 1982, the group took a sabbatical with each member pursuing solo projects, most notably Sting with acting roles in the movies Quadrophenia and Brimstone & Treacle.

The Police released their fifth and final studio album in June 1983. Recording Synchronicity, however, had been a tense affair with increasing disputes among the band members. It was reported that the three members recorded their contributions individually in separate rooms to be over-dubbed at different times. Notwithstanding the differences the album was the first to go to no.1 both in the UK and the US, with the lead single Every Breath You Take doing likewise in the respective singles charts. The Outstanding Contribution to Music award was given to the group at the 1984 Brits.

After the Synchronicity tour ended in March 1984, the band went on hiatus while Sting recorded and toured in his successful solo debut LP The Dream of the Blue Turtles, released in June 1985.  

The Police reunion

Reunion tour, 2007

A tense re-union and failed effort to record a new studio album in the summer of 1986 meant that the Police effectively disbanded, leaving a final single release - a reworking of Don't Stand So Close To Me - and a compilation album Every Breath You Take - The Singles, their fifth UK no.1 album. 

In February 2007, the group performed at The Grammy Awards and later embarked on a worldwide Reunion Tour that included over 150 shows in 28 countries and was met with critical acclaim. 


UK only

Year Single Peak position Weeks in Top 40 Album
1979 Can't Stand Losing You 02 [1] 8 Outlandos d'Amour
Roxanne 12 10
Fall Out 47 [2] 0 _
Message in a Bottle 01 8 Regatta de Blanc
Walking On The Moon 01 8
1980 So Lonely 06 7 Outlandos d'Amour
Six Pack (collection) 17 3 -
Don't Stand So Close To Me 01 8 Zenyatta Mondatta
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da 05 7
1981 Invisible Sun 02 6 Ghost in the Machine
Every Little Thing She Does Ia Magic 01 8
Spirits in the Material World 12 7
1983 Every Breath You Take 01 10 Synchronicity
Wrapped Around Your Finger 07 6
Synchronicity II 17 3
King of Pain 17 [3] 3
1986 Don't Stand So Close To Me '86 24 3 Every Breath You Take - The Singles
1995 Can't Stand Losing You (live) 27 1 Live!

other chart albums (year):

  • Greatest Hits (1992)
  • The Very Best of Sting & The Police (1997)
  • The Police (2007) [4]


  1. on 1979 re-release - original 1978 release no.42 peak
  2. re-release.
  3. charted Jan 1984
  4. only compilation to include Fall Out

TV appearances

UK only unless otherwise stated (with acknowledgement to tvpopdiaries)







  • tbc

External links

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