Andy Summers

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Andy Summers
Summers in 2015
Summers in 2015
Background information
Birth nameAndrew James Summers
Born (1942-12-31) 31 December 1942 (age 80)
Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England
OriginBournemouth, Hampshire, England
GenresRock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, new wave, new-age, avant-garde
Years active1959–present
LabelsA&M, Private Music, RCA Victor
Formerly ofThe Police, Dantalian's Chariot, Soft Machine, The Animals

Andrew James Summers (born 31 December 1942), is an English guitarist who was a member of the rock band The Police. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a band member in 2003.[1] Summers has recorded solo albums, collaborated with other musicians, composed film scores, and exhibited his photography in galleries.

Early life[edit]

Andrew James Summers was born in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England, on 31 December 1942.[2][3]

During his childhood, his family moved to Bournemouth, which was then in Hampshire. After several years of piano lessons, he took up the guitar.[4]

At an early age, he played jazz guitar. In his teens, he saw a concert by Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie in London that left a lasting impression.[5] By 16, he was playing in local clubs, and by 19, he had moved to London with his friend Zoot Money to form Zoot Money's Big Roll Band.[4]

Musical career[edit]

Pre-Police career[edit]

Summers' professional career began in the mid-1960s in London as guitarist for the British rhythm and blues band Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, which eventually came under the influence of the psychedelic scene and evolved into the acid rock group Dantalian's Chariot.[6] In September 1966, Summers was the first guitarist encountered by Jimi Hendrix after landing in the UK.[7] The young Summers is portrayed in fiction as one of the "two main love interests" in Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne's 1969 book Groupie, in which he is given the pseudonym "Davey".[8]

After the demise of Dantalian's Chariot, Summers joined Soft Machine for three months and toured the United States. For a brief time in 1968, he was a member of the Animals, then known as Eric Burdon and the Animals, with whom he recorded one album, Love Is. The album features a recording of Traffic's "Coloured Rain", which includes a 4 minute and 15 second guitar solo by Summers. The LP also included a reworked version of Dantalian's Chariot's sole single "Madman Running Through the Fields".

After five years in Los Angeles, mostly spent studying classical guitar and composition in the music programme at California State University, Northridge, from which he graduated in 1972, he returned to London with his American girlfriend, Kate Lunken.[9]

In London, Summers recorded and toured with acts including Kevin Coyne, Jon Lord, Joan Armatrading, David Essex, Neil Sedaka and Kevin Ayers. In October 1975 he participated in an orchestral rendition of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells.

In 1977, Summers was invited by ex-Gong bassist Mike Howlett to join his band Strontium 90, but was soon coaxed away by future Police bandmates Sting and Stewart Copeland.

The Police[edit]

Summers in 1979

Summers achieved international fame as the guitarist for the Police, which he joined in 1977, eventually replacing original guitarist Henry Padovani. Emerging from London's punk scene, the Police gained international renown with many hit songs, including "Message in a Bottle", "Roxanne", "Don't Stand So Close to Me", "Every Breath You Take", and "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic". During his time with the band, Summers twice won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, first in 1979 for "Reggatta de Blanc" (written with Copeland and Sting) and in 1980 for "Behind My Camel".

Although Sting was the lead singer of the band, Summers occasionally contributed lead vocals, as in "Be My Girl/Sally" (1978), "Friends" (1980), "Mother" (1983), and "Someone to Talk To" (1983). Other notable Summers compositions from this period are "Omegaman" (which would have been released as the debut single from the 1981 Ghost in the Machine album had Sting not objected), "Shambelle" (1981), "Once Upon a Daydream," and "Murder by Numbers" both co-written with Sting (both 1983). In early 1984, after seven years together and record sales around 80 million, the Police disbanded.[10]

Summers wrote the guitar riff for "Every Breath You Take", though was not given a songwriting credit. It was recorded in one take with his 1961 Fender Stratocaster during the Synchronicity sessions. The song was number one for eight weeks. Sting won the 1983 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and the Police won Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal for this song. Summers provides an account of the session in his memoir, One Train Later.[11]

As a member of the Police, Summers created a trademark guitar sound, which relied heavily on a chorus effect. He explained in 2017 how the sound came about:

"I created it sort of out of necessity; my mission was 'We're going to play for two hours each night as a trio,' so I wanted to have this fantastic, coloured guitar sound that was different for every song. So, I used the Echoplex, then a chorus, and a few other pedals…envelope filters. As we went on, I acquired more stuff and got a Pete Cornish board, but what was driving it was to invade and push the edge of what the guitar was supposed to sound like, and make it really interesting over a show. So, it wasn't just one straight sound all the time. I could move it around. And it was appreciated by many millions of people (laughs). Of course, it's very tired and a bit 'retro' now; I'm not very keen on it anymore. But in those days it was new, fresh, and exciting."[12]


Summers in 1989

Summers's solo career has included recording, touring, composing for films (including Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Weekend at Bernie's), and exhibiting his photography in art galleries around the world.

He recorded the duet albums I Advance Masked (1982) and Bewitched (1984) with guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson, as well as duet albums with Victor Biglione, John Etheridge, and Benjamin Verdery. His solo debut album, XYZ, was released in 1987 and is the only noninstrumental album in his solo catalogue. Although it included pop material, such as the single "Love is the Strangest Way", it failed to dent the charts. In 1987, Sting invited Summers to perform on his second album ...Nothing Like the Sun, a favour the singer returned by playing bass on Charming Snakes (1990) and later contributing vocals to "'Round Midnight" on Summers' tribute album to Thelonious Monk, Green Chimneys, in 1999. In the mid-1990s Summers briefly returned to a more rock-oriented sound with Synesthesia (1995) and The Last Dance of Mr X (1997) before recording a string of jazz albums. He also participated in the formation of Animal Logic. In 1992, he led the house band (credited as musical director) for The Dennis Miller Show.[13][14]

Summers in 2006

The Police reunion[edit]

During the 2007 Grammy Awards show, the Police played "Roxanne" and subsequently announced that they would be going on tour. The Police Reunion Tour began in Vancouver, Canada, on 28 May 2007 and continued until August 2008, becoming the third-highest-grossing tour of all time.[15]

Circa Zero[edit]

In August 2013, Summers announced he had formed the band Circa Zero with Rob Giles from the Rescues.[16] Originally, drummer Emmanuelle Caplette was also a member of the band.[17] Their debut show was 25 July 2013 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.[18] The band's debut album, Circus Hero, was released 25 March 2014.[19] It is titled after a malapropism of the band's name made by a radio disc jockey during an interview of Summers.[20][21]

Call the Police[edit]

In March 2017, Summers announced he had formed Call the Police, a Police tribute band, with two Brazilian musicians, Rodrigo Santos (Barão Vermelho or Red Baron) on bass guitar and vocals and Joao Barone (Os Paralamas do Sucesso) on drums.[22]

Material loss[edit]

In 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Summers among hundreds of musicians whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[23]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Reggatta de Blanc", 1979
  • Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Behind My Camel", 1980
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with the Police, 2003[24]
  • Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, with the Police, 2007[25]
  • Honorary doctorate, Bournemouth University, 2008[26]
  • Hall of Fame, Guitar Player magazine[11]
  • Vote number one pop guitarist, five years, Guitar Player magazine[11]
  • Guiding Light Award, Progressive Music Awards, 2016[27]
  • 85th guitarist of all time, Rolling Stone magazine[28]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Gibson Guitar Awards, 2000[29]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Roland and BOSS, 2017[30]
  • One Train Later (2006) was voted music book of the year by Mojo and was turned into the 2012 documentary Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police.[31] The documentary was released on DVD in July 2015.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Summers was married to American singer Robin Lane between 1969 and 1970. He married his second wife, Kate, in 1973 and they had one daughter in 1978, Layla Zoe Summers. Summers' years with The Police took its toll on their marriage, however, leading them to divorce in 1981, although they remarried in 1985. In 1987, Kate and Andy's twin sons Maurice X and Anton Y were born.[33] As of 2022, Summers resides in Santa Monica, California, with his wife and family.[34]


Solo albums[edit]

  • XYZ (MCA, 1987)
  • Mysterious Barricades (Private Music, 1988)
  • The Golden Wire (Private, 1989)
  • Charming Snakes (Private, 1990)
  • World Gone Strange (Private, 1991)
  • Synaesthesia (CMP, 1995)
  • The Last Dance of Mr. X (BMG/RCA Victor, 1997)
  • A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill Records, 1998) (compilation)
  • Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk (BMG Classics/RCA Victor, 1999)
  • Peggy's Blue Skylight (BMG Classics/RCA Victor, 2000)
  • Earth + Sky (Golden Wire, 2003)
  • The X Tracks (Golden Wire, 2004) (compilation)
  • Metal Dog (Flickering Shadow, 2015)
  • Triboluminescence (Flickering Shadow, 2017)
  • Harmonics of the Night (Flickering Shadow, 2021)


Film soundtracks[edit]

  • The Wild Life (MCA, 1984)
  • 2010 (A&M, 1984) (contributor)
  • Band of the Hand (1985)
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills (MCA, 1986)
  • Weekend at Bernie's (Arista, 1989)
  • The Craft (Columbia, 1996)


  • "Parade"/"Train" with Robert Fripp (1984)
  • "2010"/"To Hal and Back" (1984)
  • "Love is the Strangest Way"/"Nowhere" (1987)
  • "Bring on the Night" (Police cover) with 40 Fingers (2022)

As band member[edit]

With The Police

With Eric Burdon and the Animals

With Kevin Ayers

  • First Show in the Appearance Business (1996)
  • Too Old to Die Young (1998)
  • Yes We Have No Mananas, So Get Your Mananas Today (EMI/Harvest, 2009)

With Kevin Coyne

  • Matching Head and Feet (Virgin, 1975)
  • Heartburn (Virgin, 1976)
  • In Living Black and White (Virgin, 1976)
  • Sign of the Times (Virgin, 1994)
  • On Air (Tradition & Moderne, 2008)

With Dantalian's Chariot

  • Chariot Rising (Wooden Hill, 1996)

With Eberhard Schoener

  • The Book (Ariola 1977)
  • Trance-Formation (Harvest/EMI Electrola 1977)
  • Video-Flashback (Harvest, 1979)
  • Video Magic (Harvest, 1978)

With Strontium 90

  • Police Academy (Pangaea, 1997)

With Zoot Money's Big Roll Band

  • It Should Have Been Me (1965)
  • Zoot! (Columbia, 1966)
  • Transition (1968)
  • Were You There? (Indigo, 1999)
  • Fully Clothed & Naked (Indigo, 2000)

As guest[edit]



  1. ^ Savage, Mark (30 January 2007). "The arresting case of The Police". BBC News. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  2. ^ Welch, Chris (1996). The Complete Guide to the Music of The Police and Sting. London: Omnibus Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-7119-5302-4. Andy Summers was born Andrew James Summers on December 31, 1942, in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
  3. ^ (The birth date of Andy Summers -- aka Andrew James Somers aka Andrew James Summers -- is predominantly listed as 31 December 1942, on numerous online sites, including [1], [2], [3], and [4]. The link in Citation #3 confirms this. Summers' age was also listed as 44 in the birthdays segment of the 31 December 1986, episode of Entertainment Tonight.)
  4. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Andy Summers". Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  5. ^ Maxwell, Jackson (26 October 2018). "Andy Summers Talks Echoplex Pedals, Recording with the Police and Jamming with Jimi Hendrix". guitarworld. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  6. ^ Bennett, Graham (2005). Soft machine. London: SAF. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-946719-84-6.
  7. ^ Hepworth, David (2017). Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars. London: Bantam Press/Transworld. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-593-07762-7.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Roy (July 1997). "All I ever got asked was, Which band is which, did you really do it, can I have a blow-job?". Select: 115.
  9. ^ Martin, Jorge (11 April 2015). "CSUN Alumnus Andy Summers Reflects on His Police Days and More in "Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police"".
  10. ^ Welch, Chris (1996). The complete guide to the music of The Police and Sting. London: Omnibus Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-7119-5302-4.
  11. ^ a b c Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1429909297. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  12. ^ Prato, Greg (2017). "Andy Summers: Creating Light From Dark". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  13. ^ Lebovitz, David (28 August 2015). "Talk Show Graveyard: The Dennis Miller Show". Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  14. ^ "The Dennis Miller Show". Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  15. ^ Leeds, Jeff (30 January 2007). "The Police Will Kick Off the Grammys". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Baltin, Steve (13 August 2013). "The Police's Andy Summers Goes Back to Basics With Circa Zero". Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  17. ^ Ragogna, Mike (26 March 2014). "Silver Rails and Circus Hero: Conversations With Jack Bruce and Andy Summers". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  18. ^ "CIRCA ZERO DEBUT SHOW EL REY THEATRE LOS ANGELES". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Circa Zero's Circus Hero March 25, 2014 Release Date". 7 February 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  20. ^ Ragogna, Mike (26 March 2014). "Silver Rails and Circus Hero: Conversations With Jack Bruce and Andy Summers". Retrieved 1 May 2014. I was on this early morning radio station and the guy said, "Yeah, here he is with the new record from Circus Hero!" and I went, "Oh, god. It's Circa. Zero." But anyway I told Rob and he said, "Yeah, we should call the album that." Just to be a little bit weird. I thought about the early Police albums where we had all these weird titles that kind of got people's attention. Might as well have fun with it.
  21. ^ Summers, Andy and Kerr, Jim (12 November 2012). Andy Summers Interview Promo Movie & Circa Zero. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Brazil Tour Dates with Call the Police - Andy Summers". 15 March 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  23. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  24. ^ "The Police: inducted in 2003 | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  25. ^ "Cérémonie de remise des insignes de Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres à Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, du groupe The Police". 1 October 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  26. ^ "2008 Graduates – Graduation Ceremony – Bournemouth University". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  27. ^ Beaudin, Jon (2 September 2016). "Jon Anderson & Andy Summers Big Winners at Prog Magazine's Progressive Music Awards - Smooth Jazz Now". Smooth Jazz Now. Archived from the original on 8 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  28. ^ Browne, Davis; Doyle, Patrick; Fricke, Davis (23 November 2011). "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  29. ^ Basham, David (23 February 2000). "Andy Summers, Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow Win Guitar Awards". MTV News. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Roland and BOSS Present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Andy Summers and Jean-Michel Jarre". 17 February 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  31. ^ Frank W. Hoffmann, Howard Ferstle (2005). Encyclopedia of recorded sound. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 845. ISBN 978-0-415-93835-8.
  32. ^ "2015 Theatrical Movies". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  33. ^ Hiscock, John (23 August 2015). "Andy Summers: In The Police we were so desirable to girls but I paid heavy price". mirror.
  34. ^ Wright, John (23 January 2022). "The Police's Andy Summers: 'I made $1m a night – and played 150 times'". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  35. ^ "Andy Summers Discography". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  36. ^ Summers, Andy (1983). Throb. William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-02339-8.
  37. ^ Summers, Andy (2004). Light Strings. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-4324-9.
  38. ^ Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-37481-5.
  39. ^ Summers, Andy (2007). I'll Be Watching You: Inside the Police 1980–83. Taschen America LLC. ISBN 978-3-8228-2764-2.
  40. ^ Summers, Andy (2009). Throb. Nazraeli. ISBN 978-1-59005-256-3.
  41. ^ Summers, Andy (2018). The Bones of Chuang Tzu. Steidl. ISBN 978-3-95829-403-5.
  42. ^ Summers, Andy (2019). A Certain Strangeness. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-47731-890-4.

External links[edit]