Monday, December 10, 2007

Summers' Discontent

It may seem odd that less than half of Andy Summers' memoir, One Train Later, concerns his time with the Police, but Summers had a pretty interesting ride before then as a sort of auxiliary member of the British invasion, playing with an apparently popular R&B cover band for many years before joining its psychedelic offshoot Dahlian's Chariot, the prog band Soft Machine, and a latter-day version of the Animals Somewhere in there, he was well-connected enough to sell one of his guitars to Eric Clapton. By the early 1970s, though, he was reduced, for several years, to making a living by giving guitar lessons in Los Angeles.

After surviving all of that, it might seem all sunshine and rainbows to be in one of the world's biggest bands, but Summers grumbles his way through most of the Police's seven years together, although, granted, spending that much time with Sting would make anyone cranky. They have to tour too much, the fans are always harassing them, the cops are always harassing them, they have to go back on tour, all those hotel rooms seem the same, etc. Oh, and Sting is insufferable, but who reading this blog didn't already know that?

Summers himself doesn't come across too well, either. (Stewart Copeland seems OK, though.) After one tour wraps up in Asia, rather than going home to his wife and baby, Summers tacks on a three-week vacation for himself through India. (They divorced shortly thereafter.) He talks of partying with John Belushi, and the book includes a photo of Belushi, taken by Summers, on vacation in Bali, but Belushi's death -- which took place right in the shank of the Police's career -- goes unmentioned. Some friend.

Sadly enough, the book ends with the demise of the Police in 1983, so Summers doesn't cover his stint as the bandleader on Dennis Miller's syndicated talk show. I almost said "Dennis Miller's short-lived syndicated talk show," but that would have been redundant. Summers was nimble enough to quit the show before it got cancelled, which as a personal achievement ranks right up there with "So Lonely."

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