Summers, Andy 1942-
Summers, Andy 1942-
(Andrew James Summers)
PERSONAL: Born December 31, 1942, in Poulton-Fylde, England; married Robin Lane, 1968 (divorced, 1970), married Kate Unter, 1973 (divorced, 1981; remarried, 1985); children (with second wife): Layla Z. Summers, Anton Y. Summers and Maurice X. Summers (twins); Andrew (from another relationship). Education: Studied classical composition and guitar at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1969-73.
CAREER: Guitarist, songwriter. Worked variously as a musician, playing with Big Roll Band, on their album The All Happening Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band at Klook’s Kleek, Dantalion’s Chariot, Soft Machine, the Animals, on their album Love Is, and as back up for performers Neil Sedaka, Kevin Coyne, and Kevin Ayers; The Police, guitarist, 1977-1984, on their albums Outlandos D’Amour, 1978, Reggatta De Blanc, 1979, Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980, Ghosts in the Machine, 1981, and Synchronicity, 1983; collaborated with Robert Fripp on two albums; performed as a solo artist and on film scores. Has appeared as an actor and/or musician in several films and television programs.
AWARDS, HONORS: Guitar Player Readers Poll, best pop guitarist, 1984-89; Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, 2000.
(With Robert Fripp) I Advance Masked, A8M (Los Angeles, CA), 1982.
Throb, Quill (New York, NY), 1983.
(With Robert Fripp) Bewitched, A8M (Los Angeles, CA), 1984.
(Contributor) Down and Out in Beverly Hills (soundtrack), MCA (Universal City, CA), 1986.
XYZ, MCA (Universal City, CA), 1987.
Mysterious Barricades, Private Music (New York, NY), 1988.
(Contributor) Out of Time (soundtrack), MCA (Universal City, CA), 1988.
(Contributor) End of the Line (soundtrack), MCA (Universal City, CA), 1988.
The Golden Wire, Private Music (New York, NY), 1989.
(Contributor) A Weekend at Bernie’s (soundtrack), MCA (Universal City, CA), 1989.
Charming Snakes, Private Music (New York, NY), 1990.
World Gone Strange, Private Music (New York, NY), 1991.
Andy Summers, MCA (Universal City, CA), 1991.
Invisible Threads, Private Music (New York, NY), 1993.
Synaesthesia, CMP (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.
The Last Dance of Mr. X, Private Music (New York, NY), 1997.
A Windham Hill Retrospective, Windham Hill Records, 1998.
Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk, RCA (New York, NY), 1999.
Peggy’s Blue Skylight, BMG International, 2000.
Earth & Sky, Basement Music, 2004.
The X Tracks: Best of Andy Summers, Random Music UK, 2005.
Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar (photographs by Ralph Gibson), Chronicle (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
One Train Later: A Memoir, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
I’ll Be Watching You: Inside The Police, 1980-83 (photography), Taschen (New York, NY), 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: Guitarist and songwriter Andy Summers grew up in Bournemouth, England, where his father owned a restaurant. He was first exposed to music through his brother’s jazz record collection, the local jazz scene, and his own childhood piano lessons. Summers loved music and soon moved on to playing the guitar, becoming truly serious about music when he was fourteen years old. His first regular gig was at a local jazz club with a hotel band when he was just sixteen. He then met George “Zoot” Money, and the two went to London to form the rhythm-and-blues band, the Big Roll Band jazz ensemble, and record the album, The All Happening Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band at Klook’s Kleek. From there, Summers went on to play with a number of groups, including Dantalion’s Chariot, Soft Machine, and the Animals. Then in the spring of 1977, he met rockers Stewart Copeland and Sting of the newly formed band The Police at an event in London. Summers went on to join the band, becoming their primary guitar player when their previous guitarist Henri Padovani left the group. The Police experienced a rapid rise in popularity, and Summers contributed to that success, playing on the group’s most famous albums, including Outlandos D’Amour, in 1978, Reggatta De Blanc, in 1979, Zenyatta Mondatta, in 1980, Ghosts in the Machine, in 1981, and Synchronicity, in 1983. Although the group eventually disbanded, Summers continued to produce music, in conjunction with guitarist Robert Fripp, and as a solo artist. On his own, he returned to his jazz roots, producing a number of jazz albums, including The Last Dance of Mr. X.
In addition to his music, Summers has written a book on playing the guitar, Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar, which includes photographs by Ralph Gibson, and an autobiographical work, One Train Later: A Memoir. Summer’s memoir deals both with his meteoric rise with The Police and with his earlier career as part of the British rock scene in the 1960s, and what it was like to grow up in England in the 1950s. Todd Spires, in a review for the Library Journal, remarked: “This terrific book should be in demand in public libraries.” Dave Itzkoff, writing for the New York Times, noted that Summers remained “sufficiently impartial to recognize that The Police were beneficiaries of both talent and good timing.” A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book “an honest travelogue of a British kid who,... traversed the most coveted landscapes of pop culture and lived to write about it.” Summers himself remarked of his experience with The Police: “I wish I could put my finger on why we we’re so successful. I think everyone wants to understand that secret. I think because the reggae/ska sound was relatively new to the States, and had not been worked into the pop/punk hybrid coming out of the UK, people were just completely turned on by it. We loved the freedom of working in a number of forms, and creating a signature sound that took years for others to duplicate.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Summers, Andy, One Train Later: A Memoir, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Amusement Business, March 6, 2000, “Andy Summers,” p. 8.
Booklist, September 15, 2006, June Sawyers, review of One Train Later, p. 15.
Entertainment Weekly, September 29, 2006, Michael Endelman, Lisa Greenblatt, “Rock of Pages,” p. 86.
Guitar Player, January, 1998, Jas Obrecht, “Andy Summers: Out of the Jazz Closet,” p. 29; January, 2001, Adam Levy, “Harmonic Divergence,” p. 84; March, 2005, Julia Crowe, “Dynamic Duo: Andy Summers and Ben Verdery Collaborate on a Classical Concerto and an Ambient Jamfest,” p. 66.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of One Train Later, p. 775.
Library Journal, December 15, 1983, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Throb, p. 2327; August 1, 2006, Todd Spires, review of One Train Later, p. 89.
Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1983, Kristine McKenna, review of Throb, p. 90.
New York Times Book Review, December 4, 1983, Janet Maslin, review of Throb, p. 73.
People, December 19, 1983, review of Throb, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2006, review of One Train Later, p. 63.
Studio Photography & Design, November, 2004, review of Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar, p. 49.
Teen, November, 1983, “The Police: Music’s Most Arresting Superstars,” p. 47.
WWD, November 10, 2004, Rose Apodaca, review of Light Strings, p. 24.
Andy Summers Home Page, http://www.andysummers.com (January 25, 2007).
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (January 25, 2007), author biography.
Joyzine, http://www.artistwd.com/joyzine/ (January 25, 2007), Joy Williams, author interview.
Larry Sakin Blog, http://mytown.ca/sakin/ (October 27, 2006), author interview.
New York Times Book Review Online, http://www.nytimes.com/ (December 3, 2006), Dave Itzkoff, review of One Train Later.
VH-1 Web site, http://www.vh1.com/ (January 25, 2007), artist biography.