Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies

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Overview

When Stewart Copeland gets dressed, he has an identity crisis. Should he put on "leather pants, hostile shirts, and pointy shoes"? Or wear something more appropriate to the "tax-paying, property-owning, investment-holding lotus eater" his success has allowed him to become? This dilemma is at the heart of Copeland's vastly entertaining memoir-in-stories, Strange Things Happen. The world knows Copeland as the drummer for The Police, one of the most successful bands in rock history. But they may not know as much ...

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Overview

When Stewart Copeland gets dressed, he has an identity crisis. Should he put on "leather pants, hostile shirts, and pointy shoes"? Or wear something more appropriate to the "tax-paying, property-owning, investment-holding lotus eater" his success has allowed him to become? This dilemma is at the heart of Copeland's vastly entertaining memoir-in-stories, Strange Things Happen. The world knows Copeland as the drummer for The Police, one of the most successful bands in rock history. But they may not know as much about his childhood in the Middle East as the son of a CIA agent. Or be aware of his film-making adventures with the Pygmies in the deepest reaches of the Congo, and his passion for polo (Brideshead Revisited on horses). In Strange Things Happen we move from Copeland's remarkable childhood to the formation of The Police, their rise to stardom, and the settled-down life that followed. It ends with a behind-the-scenes view of The Police's extraordinarily successful reunion tour. It's a book of amazing anecdotes, all completely true, which take us backstage in a life that is fully lived.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Best known as the drummer for the rock power trio, the Police, Copeland has developed a successful career composing for film and stage, post-Police, as well as a deep passion for polo. Given such a pedigree, his autobiography might be read as that of a seriously rarefied man—a rock star, composer and English country gent. Yet Copeland's natural humility and sincerity encourage a most intimate, even familiar read. However, his memoir emerges as a series of extended but sometimes haphazardly arranged reminiscences, which occasionally distort his personal chronology. During such disjunctures, Copeland's otherwise smart and easygoing prose morphs into a rather laborious, even confusing read. But the work is worth it. Copeland's confessions from the 2007–2008 reunion tour of the Police, which make up the more engaging second half of the book, form a seamless and irresistible narrative. The ego-driven tempests that have articulated the life and times of the Police are laid out by Copeland in a fresh and honest way, not without self-implication either. More than anything else, however, Copeland makes readers feel as if they were on stage with him, Sting and Andy Summers, sharing with us the thrill of performing with one of the great bands of all time. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In this unusual memoir, Copeland, the drummer for the Police, includes all of the usual components—his rise to fame, backstage stories and on-tour escapades, glittering names and places, the inevitable reunion, and more. While all of this is absorbing and written with breezy appeal, Copeland's other pursuits are just as engrossing. He writes an opera about the Crusades, becomes involved in a movie project with Pygmies in the Congo, studies the musical roots of far-flung cultures firsthand, and relishes an active family life—and these represent only a small percentage of his adventures. Copeland's love of music and performing certainly shine through; however, his multifaceted and generous embracing of many kinds of experiences give this book an especially rich texture. He has an entertaining style and a flair for the witty and well-timed anecdote. VERDICT Fans of the Police will want to read this, and others who crave an adventuresome memoir should certainly take a look at this story of a Renaissance man whose life is closely intertwined with but not ruled by fame.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A lively, somewhat disjointed memoir by the former drummer and founder of The Police. The American-born son of a CIA agent and his archaeologist wife, Copeland grew up a "diplo-brat" in Beirut, where he played drums in the American Embassy Beach Club ballroom at age 12. His idol was drummer Buddy Rich. In 1977, he formed The Police with singer-bassist Sting and guitarist Henry Padovani, who was later replaced by Andy Summers. The group broke up in 1984, reuniting in 2007 for a world tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their hit song "Roxanne." In these sometimes rambling scenes from his life, Copeland describes his self-imposed exile as a rock star in the 1980s, when young fans would congregate outside his London home singing Police songs. While longing for a normal life in his post-rock years, he finds himself "in the constant company of a distantly remembered mythical being" and still having strange adventures. The adventures include playing polo with royalty, making a movie with hundreds of Pygmies in the northern Congo and singing ancient folk songs with 40,000 frenzied celebrants at Night of the Tarantula festivities in Italy. In other snippets, the author recounts serving as a judge on a BBC TV show, scoring music for a movie directed by Anjelica Huston and hanging with the Foo Fighters at an MTV marathon. Working in recent years as a Hollywood music writer, he describes taking time out for the Police reunion tour, which included locations in Europe, Asia and Latin America and concluded at Madison Square Garden in August 2008. Unsure at first what to say to one another, the reunited rockers soon warmed up, had their customary disagreements (often Sting-centered) and made greatmusic. With the passion of a musician enamored of his art, Copeland conveys his entire musical journey, from spraying the name of the just-formed Police on walls in London in the late '70s to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame several years ago. Bound to please fans.
Sacramento Book Review
“The well-written and funny memoir is an entertaining journey through the strange rhythms, adventures, ritual, and mojo after the breakup of [The Police]...This is the stuff that makes rock-n-roll memoir.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616801212
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Pages: 329
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Steward Copeland counts himself fortunate to have been a founder of the most played and successful trio of the 1980s. His ongoing travels in search of exotic rhythms and musical celebrations have taken him all around the world. Copeland is the father of seven children. He lives with his wife and three daughters.

Steward Copeland counts himself fortunate to have been a founder of the most played and successful trio of the 1980s. His ongoing travels in search of exotic rhythms and musical celebrations have taken him all around the world. Copeland is the father of seven children. He lives with his wife and three daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 13, 2010

    Police that ego

    Copeland came across as more egotistic and pretentious than Sting. I know he's had a colorful life, but what an ass.

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