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Stewart Copeland


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Stewart Copeland

BIOGRAPHY Stewart Copeland:

SOURCE:  Official drummer site

Stewart Copeland was born on July 16, 1952, in Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States, but soon after moved with his family to Beirut, Lebanon. In this Middle Eastern city on the Mediterranean, Stewart grew up and learned to play the drums.
Stewart's older brother Ian had started playing drums in a local band. Following in his brother's footsteps, Stewart picked up a pair of sticks and began to play, but his knack for the instrument distinguished him from his sibling almost immediately. While Ian quickly gave up the drums, Stewart found his aim and his purpose in them.
Encouraged and assisted by his father, a jazz trumpeter in an orchestra, Stewart learned his skills from professional musicians. He was a quick study with a good ear, and he scored his first real gig playing drums while still barely in his teens. His talent set him apart, and both he and those around him soon realized that Stewart's future lay in music.

A family move to England opened new opportunities for Stewart to enter the world of rock 'n' roll, first as a journalist for a drummer magazine, then as a roadie for some local bands, including British prog-rock group Curved Air. In 1974/1975, when the band found itself in need of a new drummer, Stewart got the job.


With Curved Air Stewart landed his first real job as a professional musician and made his recording debut on two successful albums,
Midnight Wire (1975) and Airborne (1976). In addition Curved Air introduced him to vocalist Sonja Kristina, who would later become his wife.
With the days of punk fast approaching, Stewart decided to form a new band fashioned on the vibe and energy of punk music. He wanted to create a trio based on drums, guitar, and bass and already had a guitar player lined up, a Corsican named Henry Padovani. Stewart called his new project The Police, a provocative name in its time that capitalized on the everyday brawls that broke out between punks and law enforcement: a regular police presence in the streets of London meant free marketing for his band.

A Curved Air performance in Newcastle gave Stewart the chance to catch the set of a local band called Last Exit, a popular jazz fusion band that journalist Phil Sutcliffe had wanted him to see play. Only one thing caught Stewart's attention at the concert that night: the stage presence of the band's charismatic bass player, a musician called Sting. This was the third piece that Stewart needed to complete his Police project.


Phil introduced the two musicians after the show, and Stewart gave Sting his phone number, instructing him to give him a call if he were ever in London in search of a place to stay and a band to join. When Sting finally decided to leave Newcastle to try and make it as a musician, he had no plan and no idea what might happen: he went to London with only Stewart's phone number in his pocket and his wife, actress Frances Tomelty, and their young child in tow.


Stewart was happy to receive Sting's call and invite him into the band but was concerned how Sting and Henry—with their different approaches to music and their instruments-would get along: Sting was a sophisticated musician with a jazz background, while Henry was a classic punk guitarist with lots of energy but little else. Punk had become the mainstream of the day and demanded Henry's vibe and spirit, but Stewart soon realized that this wasn't the situation that Sting was looking for.


In those early days, songs for the Police were written primarily by Stewart with a little help from his brother Ian. "Fall Out" and "Nothing Achieving," the band's first single and B-side, were written by both.

A Gong reunion in France prompted the Police to expand briefly into a quartet. Ex-Gong bassist Mike Howlett invited Sting and Stewart, along with a guitar player named Andy Summers, to record and perform some material that he had been working on. This reunion show in Paris put Sting, Stewart, and Andy together on stage for the first time. Andy was an experienced musician with a long list of credentials, and Sting and Stewart realized that he would be a perfect addition to their Police project. Thus, when Andy saw the Police perform weeks later at the Marquee and approached them about joining the band, Stewart, Sting, and Henry accepted, and Stewart's trio grew into a quartet. But this arrangement would last for only a few weeks.

Sting had realized that he could do better than the average punk musician and had begun giving his ideas to Stewart, writing new songs and restructuring some of his older material to be included in the Police repertoire. These more complicated songs were an improvement over Stewart's original, simpler tunes, and Andy's technique and artistry gave Sting's songwriting new opportunity to expand. But Sting's new songs were an obstacle for Henry, whose technical skills were limited. The Police was taking a new direction, and it was time to make a decision: Henry was asked to leave the band.


These early days weren't easy for the Police. The "punk" label did not fit well at all, and Stewart could see that his project was evolving into something different than he had envisioned. Money was also a big problem for the band, and they couldn't find a decent producer. But despite the hardships, Stewart remained optimistic. When Billy Ocean asked Sting to join his orchestra on tour, Stewart convinced the bassist to turn down the job and believe in his Police project.


Andy Summers had made a previous commitment to a German avant-garde electronic musician and asked if he could bring his new band mates along for the job; Eberhard Schoener was more than happy to have the band and hired them for his laser theater tour. This tour gave the Police the chance to finally earn enough money to invest in the recording of their first album. The album was produced by the Police with Nigel Gray, who was able to capture the band's new sound, a combination of reggae influences, pop, and rock that still retained some of its older punk vibe.


Another important technician who gave the band a helping hand with its sound was road manager Kim Turner, who assisted the band at its live shows. Most audiences of the time were used to listening to dry punk guitar riffs, but with Kim's experience and expertise, the Police was able to make a different impact on the crowd. With their new and improved sound in place, Andy, Stewart, and Sting were ready to make history. But it wouldn't be easy.

The Police's debut album, Outlandos D'Amour, was released on A&M Records in October 1978. Miles Copeland, Stewart's oldest brother and now manager of the band, quickly realized while listening to the band rehearse that there was a notable "classic" among their songs. Miles carried this song, "Roxanne," to Los Angeles and made A&M an offer they couldn't refuse: in lieu of money, Miles asked that A&M simply release the album; all the rest of the promotion would be handled by him and Ian Copeland in the U.S. The Police had the opportunity to tour the U.S. twice at the end of 1978 and the spring of 1979; their travels helped build their audience and spread awareness of the band and its music. The unique sound of the Police became their trademark, and record by record the band found its place in music history.

With
Reggatta De Blanc the Police embarked on their first world tour, from Asia to Australia, Europe to Africa, South America to North America. The Police exploded with the release of "Message In A Bottle," and Stewart's recognizable drumming earned him a place of great respect in the world of drummers. His original style is still one of the most influential in rock music today. During those early years, TAMA Drums adopted Stewart as one of its main artists; the company has since become a major name in the business worldwide.

Released in 1980, the band's third album,
Zenyatta Mondatta, earned them status as the most important rock band in the world, and songs like "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" became like hymns. Fame and fortune had arrived at last for Stewart's project, but the Police were now faced with the predominant image of Sting as unspoken leader of the band. No one denied the importance of Stewart's drumming and Andy's guitar, together with Sting's voice and reggae-influenced dub lines, in creating the sound of the Police; but Sting wrote most of the songs, and his image had become an icon of their music. After four years spent traveling the world and recording in the studio, the band began to suffer from overexposure.

The recording of their fourth album,
Ghost In The Machine, saw the band move to Montserrat, an island in the Caribbean Sea. The hope was to give Andy, Sting, and Stewart a place to relax and get away from the everyday pressures, but the situation grew tense as the band started arguing about songs and other issues. Like brothers, the members of the Police had to sort out their different and often clashing egos, and new producer Hugh Padgham found himself stuck in the middle. After only a few days in the studio, he walked out. The band eventually convinced Hugh to stay and finish the album, but the situation remained difficult. Ghost In The Machine was released in October 1981 and became another great success.

The final chapter in the story of the Police arrived with their fifth album,
Synchronicity, recorded in the winter of 1982/1983 and released in July 1983. The accompanying tour found the band at a crossroads: the Police were number one on all the charts, and every thing they touched turned to gold; but now that they had reached the top, they had nowhere left to go.

A historic concert at Shea Stadium in New York marked the beginning of the end. Faced with the choice between continuing on and repeating the same formula through easy and successful though likely boring episodes or giving up the Police project at its peak, the band chose to stop, to leave room to come back later when they had new things to say and new energies to give to the music. It wasn't an easy choice for the three musicians; few artists could face such a decision. But year after year, Sting, Andy, and Stewart realized that by suspending the Police at the height of its success, they had cemented the band's status as a legend in rock music history.

Although the decision had been a difficult one, the temporary split of the band greeted the three members of the Police like a new door to open, a new challenge, a breath of fresh air in their careers as musicians.

In March 1984, after the last concert with the Police in Australia, Stewart said that leaving the Police was like "leaving school" and entering a new, "adult" world. The time had come to leave the family that had brought him fame, wealth, and success; this project that Stewart had nurtured for so long had become a golden cage, and the chance to work on something different gave him the strength to experiment with new sounds and new directions.


There was no doubt that the years spent with the Police would remain the most significant steps in Stewart's early musical career; the music of the Police had become the most important soundtrack of his life. And it is exactly the world of soundtracks that would give Stewart the opportunity to take a growing step as a musician and start a new career in the movie business.


The first chance had arrived a couple of years before. At the same time that he was recording
Synchronicity with the Police, Stewart was composing and recording the soundtrack to the Francis Ford Coppola film Rumble Fish. This unusual, percussion-based soundtrack earned Stewart a 1984 Golden Globe nomination for Best Score and opened doors to several movie productions to follow.

In 1985 Stewart released a film of his own called
The Rhythmatist based on a journey to Africa to explore the roots of rhythm. While recording and touring with the Police, this kind of project would have been impossible to pursue; but the band's hiatus afforded him the time and opportunity to pursue a number of new paths. More offers continued to arrive on Stewart's desk, and day by day he became one of the most requested musicians in Hollywood.

In 1986 the Police reformed to play three dates in the U.S. on an Amnesty International tour. The performances gave Sting, Andy, and Stewart the chance to work together again, but their attempts to continue further failed. While re-recording some of the tracks to be included in a "best of" album, old tensions between members resurfaced.


To make matters worse, Stewart suffered an injury while playing polo, fracturing his collarbone and rendering him unable to play. He would be out of commission for some time, but rescheduling wasn't an option: Sting was already committed to other projects, including a new movie filming in Italy. The reunion was a bust, and the band decided to stop recording, releasing their greatest hits album with only one re-recorded song ("Don't Stand So Close To Me '86").


Stewart continued composing soundtracks, but soon a new project would bring him back to the world of touring and recording as the drummer in a rock band.

In 1988 Stewart began playing with one of the most famous bass players of all time, Stanley Clarke, and the two of them realized that something interesting might result from their collaboration. Stewart had been working with singer-songwriter Deborah Holland on a soundtrack. She let him listen to a few songs that she had written, and Stewart liked them so much that he asked her to record them with him and Stanley Clarke. Stewart and Stanley played, arranged, and produced the songs, and together with Deborah, they released the finished album under the name of Animal Logic.

The tour that followed the release of their eponymous debut album (
Animal Logic, 1989) put Stewart back on stage, playing drums in front of large, enthusiastic crowds. Fans of both the Police and Stanley Clarke saw the project as a rare chance to witness two "monsters" of rhythm perform together. Although the success of these initial efforts prompted Animal Logic to record a second album together (Animal Logic II, 1991), no supporting concert tour followed. There would be no other Animal Logic releases in the future.
The decade following the 80s was the most prolific period in Stewart Copeland's career. With scores and soundtracks as his main occupation, the famous drummer now became better known as a famous composer.

Stewart had already been a productive songwriter before the Police had emerged, having released a few singles in 1978 and a follow-up album in 1980 under the pseudonym of Klark Kent. But while the Police needed that particular touch brought to its music by Sting, Stewart's varied musical culture and knowledge allowed him to work on a variety of projects, from classical to jazz. All of these different influences surfaced in his many releases during the 1990s.


But Stewart's compositions were not limited to film scores alone: in addition to composing a number of ballets, Stewart was commissioned by the Cleveland Opera to compose an opera, which he called
Holy Blood And Crescent Moon. As a result of his unique sound, ear, and experience, Stewart's name soon became recognized as one of the most important composers in Hollywood.
n 1999 Stewart was asked to produce a song on an album by Primus, an American alternative rock band whose bassist, Les Claypool, was widely acknowledged to be one of the most interesting musicians of the decade.

Stewart was so impressed by Les that the two decided to jam together on some improvised music. Les had been invited to play a festival in New Orleans in 2000, and he asked Stewart and guitarist Trey Anastasio of Phish to join him for the performance. The three of them rehearsed many classic tunes, including "House Of The Rising Sun" and various Led Zeppelin tracks, while also writing some original material.


That 2000 concert marked an unforgettable night for many. Critical reception to the performance was enthusiastic, and the band's jam sessions had produced a number of good songs. Although it took many months for them to play together again, Stewart, Les, and Trey reunited to record an album under the name of Oysterhead.


The band released the album
The Grand Pecking Order in October 2001, and a tour of the U.S. saw them playing in front of screaming crowds, all waiting to hear these three incredible musicians on the same stage together. Once again Stewart found himself working as a drummer in a rock band, and his performance was so impressive that many expressed disappointment that a band like the Police could not reform and demonstrate once more the great potential still held by three such legendary musicians as Andy Summers, Sting, and Stewart Copeland. None of them had ever said officially that the Police had broken up, so many fans still held out hope; but it seemed that none of them was making any effort to bring the band back together either.


VIDEOS DRUM SOLO Stewart Copeland:


DRUM GEAR AND EQUIPMENT Stewart Copeland:

TAMA DRUMS
Buy...

Drums - Custom Police Blue Sparkle Maple Wood


10x8" Tom
13x9" Tom
12x8" Tom (To the left of his snare drum)
16x16" Floor Tom
18x16" Floor Tom
20x14" Tama Gong Drum
22x18" Bass Drum
14x5" Tama SC145 Stewart Copeland Signature Snare

Stewart Copeland
PAISTE CYMBALS
Buy...

12" Prototype Micro Hi-Hats
16" Signature Full Crash
17" Signature Fast Crash
18" Signature Fast Crash
18" Signature Full Crash
18" 2002 Flat Ride (prototype)
22" Signature Blue Bell Ride
10" Signature Splash
8" Signature Bell
8" Signature Prototype Splash
Stewart also uses his own Vater Stewart Copeland Standard Sticks.
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