The 80s Court: Sting vs. The Police

by Jason Gross @SockofFleagulls

Welcome to the first edition of The 80s Court!

In the upcoming months, I’ll be putting on my long black robe and arbitrating 80s cases…Wapner style! Our first series of cases will examine popular bands that split in the 80s. We’ll see if those balloon-headed prima donne lead singers were justified in launching solo careers or if they’re guilty of recklessly abandoning their band mates. So join me and my crackpot bailiff Rusty as we use our abnormally large piece of chalk to illustrate the evidence for both sides and give a final verdict on each case.

Our first case recently came to my attention as I was on Facebook. As a fan of Sting’s page, I noticed a story of Sting turning 60 years old and also an introduction to his 25 Years CD/DVD boxed set. I was dumbfounded that it had been that long that he had gone solo from the Police. So the question that naturally came to mind was “What if Sting had stayed with the Police for those 25 years?” Would he have been more successful than leaving the band in the mid 80s?” So without further ado…

“The Case of the Unsynchronized Cop”

 The Background

In 1977, Stewart Copeland, Sting, and Henry Padovani (later replaced by Andy Summers) began a rock band called the Police. Little did they know that in 3 short years, they would have a Top 5 album in both the UK and the US and also win their first Grammy award. Their popularity growing with each new album release, the Police found themselves atop the “Everest” of rock concerts in 1983 at Shea stadium in New York. After the tour ended in 1984, Sting decided it was time to apply for his pension from the Police…but not from music.

In 1985, Sting released his first solo album, while technically just separated from the Police. It went to #2 in the US, which probably did nothing to shrink his ego and urge his return to his other band members. However, contrary to the success of The Dream of The Blue Turtles, he rejoined the band in the studio in 1986. A collarbone injury suffered by Stewart Copeland  kept them from producing their 6th album and only two new singles were released with a greatest hits album. After failing to produce a new album, the Police would disband and not regroup until 20 years later in 2007 for a surprising 30-year anniversary tour.


The Evidence

In the 9 years that the Police were together, they released 6 albums and earned 5 Grammy awards as a group. Their final album, Synchronicity, stayed atop the US charts for 17 weeks in 1983. 20 years later in 2003, their career culminated with being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Sting has released 10 albums during his solo career, all but one reaching the top ten on the Billboard 200 album chart. Sting has won 11 Grammy awards and also been nominated 3 times for Oscar’s Best Original Song. He is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


The Verdict

For the 20 years that the Police were disbanded, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers had some moderate success producing music soundtracks for movies and TV shows, but nothing really noteworthy. I’m not saying that they aren’t talented, but simply that Sting’s overwhelming success during those years greatly outweighs their success, musically speaking. I’m sorry, but the See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Weekend At Bernie’s soundtracks just don’t compare to Sting’s catalog of music.

Sting has incorporated many languages into his music, releasing an EP in Spanish & Portuguese in 1988 and featuring Arabic on his hit Desert Rose. Sting’s music also transcends many genres, collaborating with artists like Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and Rod Stewart & Bryan Adams in the studio. He has teamed in concert with the likes of Luciano Pavoratti, jazz trumpter Chris Botti & Josh Grobin, P Diddy and just recently with Lady Gaga at the iHeart radio festival.

The major factor in this case is Sting’s willingness to keep the Police’s music alive throughout his solo career. Having written most of the Police’s songs, Sting has kept fans pleased by continuing to perform the songs live, including on his most recent tour with a symphony orchestra.

As much as I love the true 3-man band sound of the Police, the 80s Court rules in favor of Sting.

Case closed!

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