The Police's Andy Summers is still battling Sting for 'Every Breath You Take' songwriting credit
11 October 2023, 10:40
Listen to this article
The Police famously imploded at the height of their success.
After the release of 1983 album Synchronicity, the new wave icons became arguably the biggest band in the world.
Though they'd written an arsenal of era-defining tracks, it was the menacing ballad 'Every Breath You Take' that catapulted them to international stardom.
Of course, the band buried the hatchet, reuniting thirty years after their formation for their 2007-2008 global tour, which became the most lucrative live tour of the year.
As Sting went on to achieve enormous success as a solo artist, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland had time and resources to explore the musical avenues they couldn't under Sting's stewardship.
- The Police's Stewart Copeland: 'Sting was an arrogant "Lion King" from birth, but a golden shaft of light'
- Sting reveals why he's cancelled 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and will no longer perform it
- The Police release previously unseen Christmas video for 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'
- The Police drummer Stewart Copeland reinvents band's music with Deranged for Orchestra tour
It's not like any of them were on the bread line after The Police called it a day. Anything but.
Once it concluded, their reunion tour became the third (now nineteenth) highest-grossing tour of all time, with revenues reaching over $360 million.
However, 'Every Breath You Take' is still proving to be a point of contention for the trio, with Summers revealing on a podcast that disputes over songwriting credits for the track are "very much alive".
Appearing on The Jeremy White Show podcast, Andy Summers responded to questions about the much-deliberated songwriting credits around The Police's mainstream hit.
"It's a very contentious [topic] that is very much alive at the moment. That song was going in the trash until I played on it, and that's all there is to it. And I think that’s composition, absolutely."
The band's former guitarist is currently in the midst of an ongoing multimedia tour called The Cracked Lens + The Missing String.
But he didn't hold back when it came to his and Sting's rolling disagreement, offering more insight on where the song would've ended without his contributions.
"That song, 'Every Breath You Take,' was going in the trash," Summers reiterated. "Stewart and Sting couldn't agree on where the drums and bass were gonna sit with the song. And it wasn't going to make it onto the album."
According to the guitarist, the only reason the track made it onto Synchronicity was because they were lacking enough songs for the album.
The Police - Every Breath You Take (Official Music Video)
"We needed the material," Summers explained, "and the famous story is Sting just turned to me and said, 'Well, go on. Go in there and make it your own.'"
"And of course, I had all this sort of stuff under my fingers. I was the Police stock-artist guitarist, if you like. And I went in and I got that lick almost, it was like one take. Everyone stood up and cheered," he added.
Andy revealed that there was more in-studio tension between the pair when the band went to Canada to mix the album.
"The engineer did all this shit on [the song]," Summers said. "He had fucked up the guitar sound and I was absolutely furious."
"And I said, 'Man, I don't know what you did, but you've ruined the guitar sound. Take all that crap off'," he added.
The band then "pretty much got [the sound] back to what it needed to be," but Summers said, "it was a heartbreaking moment when he almost lost the incredible sound that I had."
Though it might not have been to Summers' tastes, the single went on to become a resounding success for The Police.
'Every Breath You Take' became an instant number one hit in the UK and the US after the single was released on 20th May 1983, spending eight weeks at the top of the US Billboard charts and four weeks at the top in the UK.
It earned the band two Grammy Awards (Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals), was the best-selling single of 1983, and was recognised by BMI as being the most played song in radio history.
Some accolades there, and the song reportedly brings in a third of Sting's music publishing income. No wonder they're still contending it.