Andrew James "Andy" Summers (born 31 December 1942) is an English multi-instrumentalist, born in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England.[1] Best known as the guitarist for rock band The Police, he has also recorded twelve solo albums, collaborated with many other artists, toured extensively under his own name, published several books, and composed several film scores.



His birth name is Andrew James Summers. For two years Summers spelled his name Somers, but subsequently reverted to using his real family name Summers.[citation needed]

Early lifeEdit

During his early childhood, his family moved to Bournemouth in the county of Dorset. After years of piano lessons, he took up the guitar at the age of thirteen. By age sixteen he was playing in local clubs. By nineteen, he had moved to London with his friend Zoot Money to form Zoot Money's Big Roll Band.[2]

Musical careerEdit

Pre-Police careerEdit

Summers' professional career began in the mid-1960s in London as the guitarist for the British rhythm and blues band Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, which eventually came under the influence of the spreading psychedelic scene and morphed into the acid rock group Dantalian's Chariot.[3] After the demise of Dantalion's Chariot, Summers joined The Soft Machine for a period of 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 that runs a full 4 minutes and 15 seconds. The LP also included a reworked version of Dantalion's Chariot's sole single "Madman Running Through The Fields".

After a period of five years in Los Angeles, mostly spent at California State University Northridge in the Los Angeles suburbs, he returned to London with his American girlfriend Kate Lunken. Back in London, Summers recorded and toured with a number of acts, including Kevin Coyne, Jon Lord, Tim Essex, Neil Sedaka and Kevin Ayers. In 1975 he participated in an orchestral rendition of Mike Oldfield seminal piece Tubular Bells.

In 1977, Summers was invited by ex-Gong bassist Mike Howlett to join his band Strontium 90, along with future Police mates Sting and Stewart Copeland.

The Police (1977-1984)Edit

Main article: The Police

Summers achieved international fame as the guitarist for The Police, which he joined in 1977, replacing original guitarist Henri Padovani. Emerging from London’s punk scene, the Police gained international fame 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 tenure with the band, Summers twice won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, first with "Reggatta de Blanc" (co-authored with Copeland and Sting in 1979), and then with his song "Behind My Camel" in 1980. Although Sting was the lead vocalist of the band, Summers occasionally contributed lead vocals, as with "Be My Girl - Sally" (1978), "Friends" (1980), "Mother" (1983) and "Someone to Talk to" (1983). Other notable Summers' compositions from this period are "Omega Man" (which would have been released as the debut single from the 1981 "Ghost in the Machine" album if Sting had not objected), "Shambelle" (1981) and "Murder by Numbers" (1983). In early 1984, after seven years and record sales around eighty million, the Police disbanded.[4]

Post-Police (1984-2007)Edit

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. In 1992, he served a brief stint as Musical Director on the short-lived Dennis Miller Show.

Summers' solo debut, "XYZ" was released in 1987, and to this day is the only non-instrumental album in his entire catalogue. Although it featured some fine 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 favor 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" (1999). In the mid-1990s Summers briefly returned to a more rock-oriented sound with "Synathestesia" (1995) and "The Last Dance Of Mr X" (1997), before recording a string of jazz albums that highlighted his eclectic guitar talent.

Over the years Summers has collaborated with a number of fellow-guitarists, including Robert Fripp, John Etheridge, Victor Biglione and Benjamin Verdery. In December 2004 he and Copeland joined Incubus in Los Angeles and performed "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle". In March 2005, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall playing the premier of Dark Florescense, a concerto composed for him and Verdery. His 2006 biography One Train Later was voted music book of the year in the UK’s Mojo magazine, and was released as a documentary film in 2012 by Yari pictures with the title Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police.[5]

The Police Reunion (2007–2008)Edit

Main article: The Police Reunion Tour

On the 2007 Grammys Award show, The Police appeared playing "Roxanne" and subsequently announced that they would be going on tour. The Police Reunion tour began in Vancouver, Canada on 28 May 2007, and continued until August 2008 becoming the third highest grossing tour of all time.[6]

Circa ZeroEdit

Summers has formed a new band, Circa Zero, with Rob Giles from The Rescues, and with drummer Emmanuelle Capalette. The band's debut album is entitled Circus Hero, though the album's release date has not yet been announced. The band's debut show will be July 25, 2013 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.[7] The title of the album is a malapropism of the band's name made by a radio disc jockey during an interview of Summers.[8]


He was voted number one pop guitarist for five years in Guitar Player Magazine before being inducted into the Guitar Player Hall of Fame. In 2003, along with his band mates Sting and Stewart Copeland he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[9]

In 2007, the French Government appointed Summers (along with Sting and Stewart Copeland) a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.[10]

In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bournemouth University.[11]


The Police years 1977–1984Edit


  • Fender
    • 1963 Fender Telecaster either purchased from Eric Clapton and then customized by Andy after he bought it (as he stated in '97 to Guitar World Magazine),[12] or purchased from a student with most of the customization already done (as he told Fender when they wanted to make a tribute guitar)[13]
    • 1961 Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster[14]


  • Marshall Stack and Roland Jazz Chorus Combo



Studio albumsEdit

  • I Advance Masked - 1982 (with Robert Fripp)
  • Bewitched - 1984 (with Robert Fripp)
  • XYZ - 1987
  • Mysterious Barricades - 1988
  • The Golden Wire - 1989
  • Charming Snakes - 1990
  • World Gone Strange - 1991
  • Invisible Threads - 1993 (with John Etheridge)
  • Synaesthesia - 1996
  • The Last Dance of Mr. X - 1997
  • Strings of Desire - 1998 (with Victor Biglione)
  • A Windham Hill Retrospective - 1998
  • Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk - 1999 (with vocals by Sting on the track "'Round Midnight")
  • Peggy's Blue Skylight - 2000 (with vocals by Deborah Harry on the track "Weird Nightmare")
  • Earth + Sky - 2004
  • Splendid Brazil - 2005 (with Victor Biglione)
  • First You Build a Cloud - 2007 (with Ben Verdery)
  • Fundamental - 2012 (with Fernanda Takai)


  • "Parade" / "Train" - 1984 (with Robert Fripp)
  • "2010" / "To Hal and Back" - 1984
  • "Love is the Strangest Way" / "Nowhere" - 1987

With the PoliceEdit

Main article: The Police discography



  • Throb (William Morrow Pubs 1983)[15]
  • Light Strings (Chronicle 2005)[16]
  • One Train Later (St Martins Press 2006)[17]
  • I'll Be Watching You (Taschen 2007)[18]
  • Desirer Walks The Streets (Nazraeli Press 2008)[19]


  1. Chris Welch (1996). The complete guide to the music of the Police and Sting. London: Omnibus Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-7119-5302-4. "Andy Summers was born Andrew James Somers on December 31, 1942, in Poulton-le-Fylde. Lancashire." 
  2. Huey, Steve (31 December 1942). "Andy Summers". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  3. Bennett, Graham (2005). Soft machine. London: SAF. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-946719-84-6. 
  4. Chris Welch (1996). The complete guide to the music of The Police and Sting. London: Omnibus Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-7119-5302-4. 
  5. Frank W. Hoffmann, Howard Ferstle (2005). Encyclopedia of recorded sound. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 845. ISBN 978-0-415-93835-8. 
  6. Leeds, Jeff (30 January 2007). "The Police Will Kick Off the Grammys". The New York Times. 
  7. "CIRCA ZERO DEBUT SHOW EL REY THEATRE LOS ANGELES". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  8. Template:Cite AV media
  9. "The Police: inducted in 2003 | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  10. "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. 
  11. "2008 Graduates - Graduation Ceremony - Bournemouth University". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  12. "Andy's Fender Guitars with The Police". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  13. fendermusical (15 April 2008). "Andy Summers Tribute Telecaster guitar demonstration video". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  14. "The Unofficial Andy Summers Website". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  15. Summers, Andy (1983). Throb. William Morrow Pubs. ISBN 0-688-02339-8. 
  16. Summers, Andy (2004). Light Strings. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-4324-9. 
  17. Summers, Andy (2007). One Train Later: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-37481-5. 
  18. Summers, Andy (2007). I'll Be Watching You: Inside the Police 1980-83. Taschen America LLC. ISBN 978-3-8228-2764-2. 
  19. Summers, Andy (2009). Throb. Nazraeli. ISBN 978-1-59005-256-3. 

External linksEdit


Template:The Police


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