Stewart Copeland celebrates his 69th birthday today. The renowned drummer and composer was born on July 16, 1952 in Alexandria, Virginia. Copeland began playing drums at age 12 and his distinctive, aggressive style would help propel the legendary genre-blending rock band The Police to prominence in the late 1970s and ‘80s alongside his bandmates bassist Sting and guitarist Andy Summers.
The Police’s climb to stardom really began with Copeland’s pre-Police band Curved Air. Stewart was the band’s road manager in the mid-1970s and graduated to drummer shortly after. At a Curved Air concert in Newcastle on Tyne in the UK, Copeland met a young bassist, vocalist and former schoolteacher Gordon Sumner who would later become known as Sting. While the prog-rock Curved Air would break up, Sting had relocated to London where Stewart sought him out to form a new band. Copeland wanted to break into the burgeoning punk rock scene and The Police were formed as a punk power trio with guitarist Henry Padovani.
In May 1977, The Police released their debut single, “Fall Out,” which was largely a Copeland composition. Mick Jagger would review the song in Sounds magazine. “Fall Out” was also the only Police recording with Padovani who would soon be replaced by Summers cementing the legendary lineup. With Copeland’s older brother Miles managing the band, The Police inked a deal with A&M Records on the strength of one of their songs, “Roxanne,” which appeared on The Police’s debut album, Outlandos d’Amour. While “Roxanne” initially did poorly in the UK it had success in the U.S. and eventually caught on in the band’s native England. The Police were on their way.
The band would find astronomical success with singles from their second album, Reggatta de Blanc, which contained the classics “Message In A Bottle” and “Walking On The Moon,” which were both distinctive in their blend of new wave and reggae. Now an international success, The Police would perform for the famed German music television program Rockpalast in Hamburg in January 1980. The set kicks off with the punk-rocker “Next To You” and also includes the aforementioned hits “Walking On The Moon,” “Roxanne” and “Message In A Bottle.” Additionally, the set boasts the band’s first single, the Copeland composed “Fall Out,” as well as the Copeland/Sting co-write “Peanuts.”
To celebrate Stewart Copeland’s birthday, watch The Police perform for Rockpalast in 1980 below via the JamBase Lie Video Archive:
Set: Next To You, So Lonely, Walking On The Moon, Hole In My Life, Deathwish, Fall Out, Bring On The Night, Visions Of The Night, The Bed’s Too Big Without You, Peanuts, Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing You, Message In A Bottle