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Technically, the late 1970s-1980s rock band, The Police, has never formally disbanded. Despite never actually breaking up, the 2007 Grammy Awards played host to a “reunion” of The Police. The next day, fans of The Police were even more thrilled to hear the band members intended to undertake a world reunion tour.
Questions still remain regarding why The Police chose to take such an extended break from pursuing work together. The band members, including the enigmatic lead singer Sting, Stewart Copeland who originally formed The Police, and Andy Summers, all took time from 1984 onward to pursue separate careers. Of these careers, Sting’s was clearly the most noticed, just as his presence in The Police somewhat overshadowed the gifts of Copeland and Summers.
Many of the problems that emerged with The Police as they became world famous, in particular with their fourth album Ghost in the Machine, are attributed to the fame attracted by Sting. As is the case with many rock bands, lead singers tend to get more notice, and are often credited with a band’s success. Sting had also proven he was a gifted lyricist and composer, and had provided The Police with most of their hits.
Tension about artistic direction between Sting and Copeland began to mount, which was made apparent with several public brawls. For Copeland, arguably one of the most talented rock percussionists of his age, Sting’s increasing control of The Police proved challenging. Constant infighting, despite great commercial success, and little compromise by any of the band members emerged and became almost as famously noted as were the band’s songs.
After producing Synchronicity in 1983 and completing their world tour, The Police announced plans for a badly needed sabbatical. The Police did reunite briefly in 1986 to participate in three Amnesty International benefit concerts, but did not subsequently announce any plans to make another album or go on tour.
Instead, Sting continued a successful solo career, experimenting, as he had wished to do with The Police, with different musical forms, particularly jazz. Andy Summers, whose ability as a jazz guitarist was barely showcased by The Police songs, delighted many jazz guitarists with several albums. Copeland began a successful career scoring films, and later scoring music for several video games including Spyro The Dragon.
The Police did play a song or two together on a few occasions. In 1992, they played a set at Sting’s wedding. When inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, they performed three songs together. However, intimates of The Police noted that even these short performances showed signs of stress. Clearly, the time was not yet ripe for a reunion.
Fans, music critics, and friends of The Police note that such stress was not evident at their 2007 Grammy performance. No word has yet surfaced regarding whether a reunion tour might be followed by production of new music. Most think this is unlikely, given the past artistic differences between band members. For now, old fans and new ones are simply delighted to witness new performances of rock classics; and are happy to see performances conducted with a calmness, maturity, and positive energy that may have been lacking in the past.