Roxanne (song)

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Single by The Police
from the album Outlandos d'Amour
B-side "Peanuts"
Released 7 April 1978
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded January 1978
Genre Reggae rock,[1] new wave
Length 3:14
Label A&M
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers
The Police singles chronology
"Fall Out"
"Can't Stand Losing You"
Outlandos d'Amour track listing
"So Lonely"
"Hole in My Life"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Roxanne" is a song by the rock band The Police. Written by Sting, the song was released in 1978 as a single and on their album Outlandos d'Amour. It was written from the point of view of a man who falls in love with a prostitute. On re-release in 1979, the song peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.

The song ranked No. 388 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was voted #85 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs.

In 2008, "Roxanne" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[2]


Police lead singer Sting wrote the song, inspired by the prostitutes he saw near the band's seedy hotel while in Paris, France in October 1977 to perform at the Nashville Club. The title of the song comes from the name of the character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, an old poster of which was hanging in the hotel foyer.[3]

Sting had originally conceived the song as a bossa nova, although he credits Police drummer Stewart Copeland for suggesting its final rhythmic form as a tango. During recording, Sting accidentally sat down on a piano keyboard in the studio, resulting in the atonal piano chord and laughter preserved at the beginning of the track.[4] The Police were initially diffident about the song, but Miles Copeland III was immediately enthusiastic after hearing it, becoming their manager and getting them their first record deal with A&M Records. The single did not chart, but when re-released in April 1979, it reached number 12 in the UK Singles Chart.[5] In the US, the single entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1979 and peaked at number 32 in April. The song went on to become a staple of Sting's performances during his solo career, and was also performed when The Police reunited in 2003 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Roxanne has appeared on all of the Police's Greatest hits albums. In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked it #388 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[6]

It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

This was also the first song the band performed live at the 2007 Grammy Awards to kick off their 30th Anniversary Reunion Tour.

Music video[edit]

There were three different music videos released for "Roxanne". The first shows the band performing the song on a stage on what is perhaps a sound check to a show. Many slow motion shots of the group live appear here as well. The second version was shot on a soundstage and shows the band performing before a red backdrop. The third version is identical to the second except the footage was transferred from videotape to film and has a grainy quality to it.[citation needed]



Track listing[edit]

7": A&M / AMS 7348 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Roxanne" — 3:00 (Sting)
  2. "Peanuts" (single edit) — 2:52 (Stewart Copeland, Sting)

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 1980s-1990s, this song was used as the intro to Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" with Dennis Miller.
  • In 2001, the song was one of the many remixed covers in the film Moulin Rouge!, named "El Tango de Roxanne", which was combined with the tango composition "Tanguera" by Mariano Mores.
  • The Arctic Monkeys song "When the Sun Goes Down", refers to Roxanne in the lyrics: and he told Roxanne to put on her red light.
  • In the US sitcom Community, the song plays as a running gag throughout the episode "Remedial Chaos Theory".
  • In the film 48 Hrs., Eddie Murphy sings the song in his prison cell.

Other cover versions[edit]

  • In 1997, Sting re-recorded the song with rapper Puff Daddy as "Roxanne '97 (Puff Daddy Remix)" for the compilation album The Very Best of Sting & The Police. Only the 1997 A&M and 1998 PolyGram releases have this song, as it is omitted in the 2002 Universal Music re-release.
  • In 1997, Michael Franti & Spearhead covered the song in the film Good Burger during the introduction of a female character with the same name.
  • In 1997, British reggae group Aswad covered the song on their album Big Up.
  • In 1997, saxophonist Warren Hill covered the song on his album Shelter.[24]
  • In 1999, George Michael covered the song on his album Songs from the Last Century.[25]
  • In 2000, rapper Cam'ron sampled "Roxanne" for his single "What Means The World to You?".
  • In 2003, Fall Out Boy covered the song in the deluxe version of Take This to Your Grave.
  • In 2003, Sherbert covered the song with Matt Lightbourn on vocals, remixed by [Jimmy Gomez] and [Cricco Castelli]
  • In 2004, Incubus performed a version of the song on the occasion of their semi-acoustic live set at KROQ with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers as guests.
  • In 2005, British group The Flying Pickets delivered an a cappella version of the song on their album "Everyday".
  • In 2007, Kate Ceberano recorded a version for her Nine Lime Avenue album.
  • In 2008, Idina Menzel covered the song on her "I Stand" Summer Tour. She also performed the song on her 2010-2011 Symphony Tour as a mashup with Cole Porter's Love For Sale, which appears on her live album "Live: Barefoot at the Symphony."
  • In 2009, the song was parodied by Flight of the Conchords in You Don't Have to be a Prostitute, in episode 2 of their second television series.
  • In 2012, the song was covered by singer Juliet Simms for the reality television show, The Voice. Her cover reached number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • In 2014, Nadia Ali did an acoustic cover of the song, which was released as a free download.


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  2. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame – g". Grammy Hall of Fame Award. The Recording Academy. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Sting (2003). Broken Music. Simon & Schuster. 
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  5. ^ a b "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
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  14. ^ a b "Outlandos d'Amour – Awards". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
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  16. ^ "RECORD WORLD 1979". Record World. Archived from the original on 20 August 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
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  18. ^ (Italian) "Indice per Interprete: P". HitParadeItalia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
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  20. ^ " – Sting & The Police – Roxanne 97 (Puff Daddy Remix)" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  21. ^ (Polish) "ROXANNE'97 - The Police & Puff Daddy". LP3. Nowe Media, Polskie Radio S.A. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  23. ^ " – The Police – Roxanne" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  24. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "George Michael – Songs from the Last Century". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Warren Hill – Shelter". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 7 January 2014.