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.
Andrew James Summers was born in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 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.
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. He is 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".
After the demise of Dantalion's Chariot, Summers joined The 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 which runs a full 4 minutes and 15 seconds. To ensure he ended at the right place, Zoot Money kept count throughout the solo and gave him the cue out at bar 189. 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 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 1975 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 (1977–1986)
Summers achieved international fame as the guitarist for The Police, which he joined in 1977, eventually replacing original guitarist Henri 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.
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.
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 Robert Fripp, 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. The documentary was released on DVD in July 2015 along with his CD, Metal Dog.
The Police Reunion (2007–2008)
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.
Summers formed a new band, Circa Zero, with Rob Giles from The Rescues. Originally, drummer Emmanuelle Caplette was also a member of the band. Their debut show was 25 July 2013 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. The band's debut album, Circus Hero, was released 25 March 2014. It is titled after a malapropism of the band's name made by a radio disc jockey during an interview of Summers. The first single, "Levitation," was released to US adult album alternative radio on 3 March 2014; and reached number 36 on the Japan Hot 100 chart. Circa Zero quietly disbanded in 2015.
Awards and honors
Summers' five Grammy Awards includes one for "Behind My Camel" in the Best Rock Instrumental category. Summers wrote the instrumental for the Police. Sting, however, refused to play so Summers also played bass.
- Grammy Award, Best Rock Instrumental, "Behind My Camel"
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with The Police, 2003
- Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, with The Police, 2007
- Honorary doctorate, Bournemouth University, 2008
- Hall of Fame, Guitar Player magazine
- Vote number one pop guitarist, five years, Guitar Player magazine
- Guiding Light Award, Progressive Music Awards, 2016
- 85th guitarist of all time, Rolling Stone magazine
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Gibson Guitar Awards, 2000
- "The Police: inducted in 2003 | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rockhall.com. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
- "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.
- "2008 Graduates – Graduation Ceremony – Bournemouth University". Bournemouth.ac.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
- Beaudin, Jon (2 September 2016). "Jon Anderson & Andy Summers Big Winners at Prog Magazine's Progressive Music Awards - Smooth Jazz Now". Smooth Jazz Now. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- Browne, Davis; Doyle, Patrick; Fricke, Davis (2011-11-23). "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
- Basham, David (23 February 2000). "Andy Summers, Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow Win Guitar Awards". MTV News. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
The Police years 1977–1984
- 1963 Fender Telecaster purchased from a student with most of the customization already done (as he told Fender when they wanted to make a tribute guitar)
- 1961 Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster
- 1958 Gibson ES-335
- 1957 Gibson Les Paul
- Roland G-303 Guitar Synthesizer controller
- Marshall Stack and Roland Jazz Chorus Combo
- Echoplex EP-3 Tape Delay
- Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger and Deluxe Memory Man Delay
- MXR Dynacomp Compressor
- custom Pete Cornish Guitar pedalboard
- Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer
- Moog Taurus 205A Synthesizer Pedals
The above is a list of equipment used by Andy from the ’80’s. Since that time Summers has built a collection of 200 guitars and uses a wide variety of amplifiers and electronic equipment.
Since the 1980’s 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)
- XYZ (MCA, 1987)
- Mysterious Barricades (Private Music, 1988)
- The Golden Wire (Private, 1989)
- Charming Snakes (Private, 1990)
- World Gone Strange (Private, 1991)
- Synaesthesia (Times Square, 1996)
- The Last Dance of Mr. X (RCA Victor, 1997)
- 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, 2004)
- Metal Dog (Flickering Shadow, 2015)
- I Advance Masked with Robert Fripp (A&M, 1982)
- Bewitched with Robert Fripp (A&M, 1984)
- Invisible Threads with John Etheridge (Mesa, 1993)
- Strings of Desire with Victor Biglione (RCA Victor, 1998)
- Splendid Brazil with Victor Biglione (Rare, 2005)
- First You Build a Cloud with Ben Verdery (Rare, 2007)
- Fundamental with Fernanda Takai (Ais, 2012)
- Circus Hero with Rob Giles as Circa Zero (429 Records, 2014)
- The Wild Life (MCA, 1984)
- 2010 (A&M, 1984)
- Down and Out in Beverly Hills (MCA, 1986)
- Video Magic – Eberhard Schoener, Sting, and Stewart Copeland (1978)
- Video Flashback – Eberhard Schoener, Sting, and Stewart Copeland (1979)
- ...Nothing Like the Sun – Sting (A&M, 1987)
- Stiletto – Michael Shrieve (Novus, 1989)
- Twang! A Tribute to Hank Marvin and the Shadows (Ark 21, 1996)
- Outlandos D'Americas: Tributo A Police (A Tribute to The Police) (Ark 21, 1998)
- Nylon & Steel – Manuel Barrueco (2001)
- Ataraxis – Deeyah (2007)
- A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1998)
- The X Tracks: Best of Andy Summers (Fuel, 2005)
- "Parade" / "Train" – with Robert Fripp (1984)
- "2010" / "To Hal and Back" (1984)
- "Love is the Strangest Way" / "Nowhere" (1987)
With the Police
- Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
- Reggatta de Blanc (1979)
- Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
- Ghost in the Machine (1981)
- Synchronicity (1983)
- Every Breath You Take: The Singles (1986)
- Greatest Hits (1992)
- Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (1993)
- Live! (1995)
- The Police (2007)
- Certifiable: Live in Buenos Aires (2008)
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
- 1967 – Chariot Rising (1995 Release)
Eric Burdon and The Animals
- 1968 – Love Is
- 1983 – Eric Burdon and The Animals
- 2004 – Absolute Animals 1964–1968
- 1975 – Matching Head and Feet
- 1976 – In Living Black and White
- 1976 – Heartburn
- "Andy Summers Discography". andysummers.com. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "Andy Summers". Discogs. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
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.
Summers currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family.