Andy Summers

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Andy Summers
Andy Summers with guitar 2015.jpg
Summers in 2015
Background information
Birth nameAndrew James Somers
Born (1942-12-31) 31 December 1942 (age 75)
Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England
GenresRock, jazz, jazz fusion, new wave, new-age, avant-garde
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, photographer
Years active1959–present
LabelsA&M, Private Music, RCA Victor
Associated actsZoot Money's Big Roll Band, Dantalian's Chariot, Soft Machine, the Police, Robert Fripp, Circa Zero, Gustavo Cerati

Andrew James Somers (born 31 December 1942), known professionally as Andy Summers, is an English guitarist who was a member of the rock band the Police. 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.[1] During Summers' childhood, his family moved to Bournemouth in Dorset, England. After several years of piano lessons, he took up the guitar at the age of thirteen. By age sixteen he was playing in local clubs and by nineteen he had moved to London with his friend Zoot Money to form Zoot Money's Big Roll Band.[2]

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.[3] In September 1966, Summers was the first guitarist encountered by Jimi Hendrix after landing in the UK.[4] 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".[5]

After the demise of Dantalion'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 guitar solo by Summers running to a full 4 minutes and 15 seconds. The LP also included a reworked version of Dantalion's Chariot's sole single "Madman Running Through the Fields".

After five years in Los Angeles, mostly spent studying classical guitar and composition at California State University, Northridge, he returned to London with his American girlfriend Kate Lunken.

In London, Summers recorded and toured with acts including Kevin Coyne, Jon Lord, Joan Armatrading, David Essex, Neil Sedaka and Kevin Ayers. In October 1976 he participated in an orchestral rendition of Mike Oldfield's seminal "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 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 with "Reggatta de Blanc" (co-authored with Copeland and Sting), and again in 1980 with his instrumental "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), and "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 eighty million, the Police disbanded.[6]

Though not given songwriting credit, Summers wrote the guitar riff for "Every Breath You Take". 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 book, One Train Later.[7]


Summers in 1989

Summers' solo career has included touring, recording, composing for films (including 2010, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, The Wild Life and Weekend at Bernie's), writing books, and exhibiting his photography.

Summers' solo debut, XYZ was released in 1987, and is the only non-instrumental album in his catalogue. Although it featured some pop material, including the single "Love is the Strangest Way", it failed to dent the charts, prompting Summers to move from MCA to Private Music and embrace a more experimental sound.

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" in 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.

Over the years, Summers has collaborated with a number of guitarists, including two instrumental duo albums - I Advance Masked (1982) and Bewitched (1984) - with King Crimson's Robert Fripp, as well as recordings with John Etheridge, Victor Biglione and Benjamin Verdery. In December 2004, he and Copeland joined Incubus on stage in Los Angeles and performed "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle".

In March 2005, Summers made his debut at Carnegie Hall, playing the premier of "Dark Florescence", a concerto composed for him and Verdery.

His biography One Train Later (2006) was voted music book of the year by the UK's Mojo and was turned into the 2012 documentary Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police.[8] The documentary was released on DVD in July 2015 [9] along with his CD, Metal Dog.

Summers in 2006

The Police reunion[edit]

During the 2007 Grammys Award show, the Police appeared, playing "Roxanne" and subsequently announcing that they would be going on tour. The Police Reunion Tour began in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on 28 May 2007, and continued until August 2008, becoming the third highest grossing tour of all time.[10]

Circa Zero[edit]

In August 2013, Summers announced he had formed a new band, Circa Zero, with Rob Giles from the Rescues.[11] Originally, drummer Emmanuelle Caplette was also a member of the band.[12] Their debut show was 25 July 2013 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.[13] The band's debut album, Circus Hero, was released 25 March 2014.[14] It is titled after a malapropism of the band's name made by a radio disc jockey during an interview of Summers.[15][16] The first single, "Levitation," was released to US adult album alternative radio on 3 March 2014;[17] and reached number 36 on the Japan Hot 100 chart.[18]

In March 2017, Summers announced he had formed Call the Police, a Police tribute band, with two Brazilian musicians, Rodrigo Santos (Barão Vermelho aka Red Baron) on bass guitar and vocals and Joao Barone (Os Paralamas do Sucesso) on drums. After a debut 7-date South America tour in Spring 2017 (from March 31, 2017 in São Paulo, Brazil to April 15, 2017 in Teresopolis, Brazil),[19]

Personal life[edit]

Summers was married to his first wife, Robin Lane, in 1968. They divorced two years later in 1970. He married his second wife, Kate Lunken, in 1973 and they had one daughter in 1978, Layla Zoe Summers. They divorced in 1981 although they would then remarry in 1985. In 1987, Kate and Andy's twin sons Maurice X and Anton Y were born.

Awards and honours[edit]

Summers' five Grammy Awards includes two for "Reggatta de Blanc" and "Behind My Camel" in the Best Rock Instrumental category. Summers co-wrote the former and authored the latter for the Police.

  • Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Reggatta de Blanc", 1979
  • Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Behind My Camel", 1980
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with the Police, 2003[20]
  • Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, with the Police, 2007[21]
  • Honorary doctorate, Bournemouth University, 2008[22]
  • Hall of Fame, Guitar Player magazine[7]
  • Vote number one pop guitarist, five years, Guitar Player magazine[7]
  • Guiding Light Award, Progressive Music Awards, 2016[23]
  • 85th guitarist of all time, Rolling Stone magazine[24]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Gibson Guitar Awards, 2000[25]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Roland and BOSS, 2017[26]


The Police years[edit]




The above is a list of equipment used by Andy from the ’80s. Since that time Summers has built a collection of 200 guitars and uses a wide variety of amplifiers and electronic equipment.


Since the 1980s Andy Summers has done 35 photography exhibitions including:

  • Leica Gallery, Los Angeles (2013)
  • Paris LA Independent Photo Show (2014)
  • photokina, Cologne (2014)
  • Shanghai Kunst-Licht Gallery2014 C-C-C Gallery, Beijing (2014)
  • Leica Gallery, Sao Paulo (2015)
  • Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona (2015)


Solo albums[edit]

  • XYZ (MCA, 1987)
  • Mysterious Barricades (Private Music, 1988)
  • The Golden Wire (vocals by Najma Akhtar on "Pija Tose") (Private, 1989)
  • Charming Snakes (Private, 1990)
  • World Gone Strange (Private, 1991)
  • Synaesthesia (Times Square, 1996)
  • The Last Dance of Mr. X (RCA Victor, 1997)
  • A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1998)
  • Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk (vocals by Sting on "Round Midnight") (RCA Victor, 1999)
  • Peggy's Blue Skylight (vocals by Deborah Harry on "Weird Nightmare") (RCA Victor, 2000)
  • Earth + Sky (Golden Wire, 2003)
  • The X Tracks: Best of Andy Summers (Fuel, 2005)
  • Metal Dog (Flickering Shadow, 2015)
  • Triboluminescence (Flickering Shadow, 2017)


Film soundtracks[edit]

  • 1984 The Wild Life
  • 1984 2010
  • 1985 Band of the Hand
  • 1986 Down and Out in Beverly Hills
  • 1989 Weekend at Bernie's
  • 1990 Deceived
  • 1991 Motorama
  • 1992 Another You
  • 1993 Mississippi Masala


  • "Parade"/"Train" with Robert Fripp (1984)
  • "2010"/"To Hal and Back" (1984)
  • "Love is the Strangest Way"/"Nowhere" (1987)

As band member[edit]

With The Police

With Eric Burdon and the Animals

With Kevin Ayers

  • 1996 First Show in the Appearance Business: The BBC Sessions 1973–1976
  • 1998 Too Old to Die Young: BBC Live 1972–1976
  • 2005 Kevin Ayers: The BBC Sessions 1970–1976

With Kevin Coyne

With Dantalian's Chariot

  • 1967 Chariot Rising (1995 Release)

With Eberhard Schoener

  • 1977 The Book
  • 1977 Trance–Formation
  • 1978 Video Flashback
  • 1978 Video Magic

With Strontium 90

  • 1997 Police Academy (1977)

With Zoot Money's Big Roll Band

  • 1965 It Should Have Been Me
  • 1966 Zoot! Live At Klook's Kleek
  • 1968 Transition
  • 1999 Were You There?
  • 2000 Fully Clothed and Naked

As guest[edit]



  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve (31 December 1942). "Andy Summers". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  3. ^ Bennett, Graham (2005). Soft machine. London: SAF. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-946719-84-6.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1429909297. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  8. ^ Frank W. Hoffmann, Howard Ferstle (2005). Encyclopedia of recorded sound. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 845. ISBN 978-0-415-93835-8.
  9. ^ "2015 Theatrical Movies". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  10. ^ Leeds, Jeff (30 January 2007). "The Police Will Kick Off the Grammys". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Baltin, Steve (13 August 2013). "The Police's Andy Summers Goes Back to Basics With Circa Zero". Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  12. ^ Ragogna, Mike (26 March 2014). "Silver Rails and Circus Hero: Conversations With Jack Bruce and Andy Summers". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  13. ^ "CIRCA ZERO DEBUT SHOW EL REY THEATRE LOS ANGELES". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Circa Zero's Circus Hero March 25, 2014 Release Date". 7 February 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Summers, Andy and Kerr, Jim (12 November 2012). Andy Summers Interview Promo Movie & Circa Zero. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Future Releases on Triple A (AAA) Radio Stations". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014.
  18. ^ "allmusic ((( Circa Zero > Awards > Japan Hot 100 Singles )))". Billboard. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  19. ^ Summers, Andy (March 15, 2017). "Brazil Tour Dates with Call the Police". Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Police: inducted in 2003 | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ "2008 Graduates – Graduation Ceremony – Bournemouth University". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Browne, Davis; Doyle, Patrick; Fricke, Davis (23 November 2011). "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  25. ^ Basham, David (23 February 2000). "Andy Summers, Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow Win Guitar Awards". MTV News. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Roland and BOSS Present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Andy Summers and Jean-Michel Jarre". 17 February 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  27. ^ fendermusical (15 April 2008). "Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster guitar demonstration video". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  28. ^ "The Unofficial Andy Summers Website". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  29. ^ Guitar, Vintage (2002-05-30). "The History of Hamer, Part One". Vintage Guitar® magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  30. ^ "Andy Summers | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Andy Summers Discography". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  32. ^ Summers, Andy (1983). Throb. William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-02339-8.
  33. ^ Summers, Andy (2004). Light Strings. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-4324-9.
  34. ^ Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-37481-5.
  35. ^ Summers, Andy (2007). I'll Be Watching You: Inside the Police 1980–83. Taschen America LLC. ISBN 978-3-8228-2764-2.
  36. ^ Summers, Andy (2009). Throb. Nazraeli. ISBN 978-1-59005-256-3.
  37. ^ Summers, Andy (2018). The Bones of Chuang Tzu. Steidl. ISBN 978-3-95829-403-5.

External links[edit]