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|Birth name||Henri Padovani|
13 October 1952 |
Bastia, Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica, France
|Genres||Rock, post-punk, new wave, reggae, instrumental rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, piano|
|Associated acts||The Police, U.K. Subs, Johnny Thunders, Zucchero Fornaciari|
Henri Padovani (born 13 October 1952, Bastia, Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica, France) commonly known as Henry Padovani, is a musician from the Mediterranean French isle of Corsica, noted for being the original guitarist with The Police. He was a member of the band from January 1977 to August 1977 and was replaced by Andy Summers, who had originally been part of the group as a second guitarist.
Early life and punk years
Henri Padovani grew up between Algeria and Corsica from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco. While studying Economics at Aix-en-Provence, he began listening to Jimi Hendrix and was inspired to form his own band, Lupus, made up of various school friends. He moved to London in December 1976, where a friend took him to one of Curved Air's last gigs. Though unimpressed by the performance, afterward he ended up talking with American expatriate drummer Stewart Copeland, who showed him some songs he'd been writing and introduced him to the rising punk scene. After a show at the Roxy Club, Padovani decided he wanted to join a punk band and shaved off his waist-length hair and beard. He then auditioned for the band London and was offered the job.
However, when he told Copeland of his success, he petitioned him to join his own band, The Police. Copeland was already under the impression that he had convinced singer and bassist Sting to join, but despite heavy use of word-of-mouth and advertisements in musical publications, Padovani was the only guitarist he could find who was interested in punk and had actual playing ability. Copeland later recalled of Henry Padovani:
He couldn't speak much English but he'd picked up some musicians' slang and he used to say 'Where can I put my homp(amplifier)? or 'where do I put my rope (lead)?'. He knew a few chords and he was really enthusiastic and when he'd had his hair cut and stuff he really looked the part. I mean, he could play guitar better than I could and I could play guitar better than Joe Strummer... well, in those days. So I reckoned he'd be OK but I didn't figure Sting would see it that way...
With Sting on lead vocals and bass, Padovani on lead guitar and Copeland doubling on rhythm guitar as well as drums, The Police recorded their first single, "Fall Out" b/w "Nothing Achieving" in May 1977. However Sting was dissatisfied with Padovani's technical abilities, paving the way for Andy Summers, whom they met after a brief tour as part of Mike Howlett's band Strontium 90. For a brief period between July and August 1977, The Police performed as a four piece with Padovani and Summers sharing guitar duties. Having insisted from the start that he wanted to be the sole guitarist for the band, Summers was unhappy with the situation. Padovani himself felt that the disparity in technical ability between the two of them made this an awkward lineup. The night after an aborted studio session with former Velvet Underground multi-instrumentalist John Cale in the producer's chair, Copeland called Padovani and asked him to leave the band.
Being cast out of the Police did not slow Padovani's musical career, however. After taking a two-month vacation in Corsica, he returned to London and was immediately handed the rhythm guitar spot with Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, who at the time were far better known than the Police. The Police were actually their support act in 1977. The band's first album with Padovani, Storm the Gates of Heaven, was also his debut as a songwriter. Besides a pair of group compositions, he wrote the music for the song "Cry of Angels". After one more album, Things Your Mother Never Told You, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs split in two. Padovani remained with bassist Val Haller and drummer J.J. Johnson, and the trio recorded a final single, "So Many Ways", as simply The Electric Chairs, before management problems forced them to disband completely. During this period, Padovani and Haller took turns on lead vocals.
However, the collaboration between Padovani, Haller, and Johnson did not end with the breakup of the Electric Chairs. In 1980, they put together a band called The Mystere Five's, which consisted of the three of them plus Chris Reeves, who played guitar, and Marc "Frenchie" Gloder, who had no performance role in the band but wrote all the lyrics, designed the sleeves to their records, and owned the record label. All the members except Gloder did lead vocals. The group used a deliberately anonymous image, never crediting individual members. Except for a cover of "Shake Some Action" by Flamin' Groovies, all their songs were credited as being written and produced by the group as a whole.
The Mystere Five's recorded two indie singles which were released in 1980, "Shake Some Action" b/w "No Message" and "Never Say Thank You" b/w "Heart Rules the Head". Both were successful, receiving good reviews (New Musical Express called the first single "A perfect record" and later reviewed the second single as being "actually better"), high placings in the indie charts, and a good deal of radio play.
However, by the time the singles were released, the band members had already moved on to other projects, with Padovani having formed his own band, The Flying Padovanis. This new band released the double A-sided single "Western Pasta" b/w "Vas plus haut" (1981). The Flying Padovanis recorded an album, They Call Them Crazy (also released under the title Font L'Enfer), before disbanding at the end of 1987.
In 1988, Miles Copeland III, the Police's manager, and elder brother of Stewart Copeland, appointed Padovani as Vice President of IRS Records, a role he performed until 1994. He then managed the Italian musician Zucchero for five years.
After a five-year sabbatical, Padovani returned to guitar playing. In 1998 he contributed to a Johnny Thunders tribute album by performing "Cosa Nostra". He recorded a solo album, À croire que c'était pour la vie, in 2007 with record producer Yves Aouizerate. The album was sung in French, and both Stewart Copeland and Sting played on the track "Welcome Home", representing the first time that the original members of the Police had recorded together since "Fall Out". Manu Katché, Steve Hunter, Glen Matlock and Chris Musto (of the Flying Padovanis) also appeared on the album.
Padovani also wrote the score for the films La Vie comme elle va (2005) and Ici Najac, à vous la Terre (2006 Cannes Film Festival official selection). In 2006 he published his autobiography Secret Police Man, recounting episodes of his lifestyle in the late 1970s and the early days of The Police.
The Flying Padovanis reformed in 2007 for an album Three for Trouble released in May that year, followed by a tour which included an appearance at the Fuji rock festival in Japan. Padovani often appears live on stage with his friend Rachid Taha.
During the 2007 The Police Reunion Tour, Padovani joined the band on stage for the final encore of their show in Paris on 29 September. The Police as a four piece played "Next to You" from the band's first album Outlandos d'Amour.
- Font L'Enfer – 1982 (with The Flying Padovanis)
- They Call Them Crazy – 1987 (with The Flying Padovanis)
- Three for Trouble – 2007 (with The Flying Padovanis)
- À croire que c'était pour la vie – 2007
- Live at the 100 Club – 2008 (with The Flying Padovanis)
- I Love Today – 2016
- "Fall Out"/"Nothing Achieving" – 1977 (with The Police) (#47 UK Singles)
- "Western Pasta"/"Vas Plus Haut" – 1981 (with The Flying Padovanis)
- I Only Play R&R for Kids to Dance: Tribute to Johnny Thunder – 1998
- "Cannes Film Festival". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
- Sutcliffe, Phil (1993). "The Hard Line". In Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (pp.28–29) [Boxed set booklet]. A&M Records Ltd.
- Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6.
- Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0.
- Marko, Paul (16 January 2001). "JJ Johnson: Drummer Electric Chairs". punk77.co.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- Note: The spelling of "Five" in the band's name is inconsistent, even on their records. Sometimes the word "five" is used, sometimes the Arabic numeral, and sometimes the Roman numeral. However, the unexplained apostrophe always appears in official spellings of the name.
- "New Wave Music – Mystere Five". Drumpunk.co.uk. 1999. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 356. CN 5585.