I receive an email from a PR person.

‘Would you like to interview Stewart Copeland, legendary drummer for the Police?’ it says.

I am a bit floored by this. Normally I get emails from PR people that say ‘we have exclusive trailers and content from a new movie with lots of explosions, and I just know your readers will love it if you post them on your secret private diary. Can I email you some banners as well?’ and I sort of get back to them with a doubtful ‘well, you know, I’m not sure that they will, but if you’re sure… here is my rate card, as I am a media owner like R Murdoch etc,’ and then I inexplicably never hear back from them. It is not as if I am going to bite their hand off or anything.

The thing is – this is Stewart Copeland, legendary drummer for the Police. So I bite his hand off.

Stewart Copeland has his autobiography out at the moment, which is hard-hitting and funny (admittedly I haven’t read it yet, or got a copy, but I’m sure it is). He is one of the pivotal figures from my early musical education – that is to say, he was the first person who I heard ever playing the drums in a sort of quiet tiddledy-widdledy way rather than a big bam crash thing, and it was that restraint and tension that made the Police one of the great subversive pop-chart bands.

Plus, when I was a teenager, I was in a Police tribute band.

Actually, we only ever played one song by the Police – but it was really good. It was ‘Walking on the Moon’. Even at that age, I had mastered Andy Summers’s complicated guitar lines; Iain, the drummer, could have filled in for Copeland himself; and Dave, who sang and played bass, had Sting’s vocals off to a T. There is a recording of us, done on a ghetto-blaster that was placed in the corner of Dave’s dad’s garage. It is astonishing. Only the quality of the production betrays the fact that it is not the Police themselves performing. We were (although I say so myself) unlucky not to be picked up by a big management company.

So I interview Stewart Copeland (legendary drummer for the Police). I am allowed three questions, and my plan is to ask him these questions and then post the answers along with our demo tape, which I have dug out from all those years ago. Then, when Stewart Copeland finds the post (AS ALL LEGENDARY MUSICIANS DO – see the comments in the Sonny Smith post for proof), he will hear the demo tape and offer us a lucrative deal of some description. (I will get back in touch with Dave and Iain via Friends Reunited, the new social networking thing).

So here you go, exclusively to Private Secret Diary: An interview with Stewart Copeland, legendary drummer for the Police.

Private Secret Diary: I’m a guitarist myself, but these days I tend to be found picking away at a banjo. (The banjo is a modern descendant of the lute.) So with you on drums, me on the banjo, who plays bass – and why?

Stewart Copeland, legendary drummer for the Police: Let’s get my old buddy Les Claypool. He’s got a banjo bass and we can do This Little Light of Mine.

PSD: I’ve read a couple of musical autobiographies recently. There was Nick Mason’s, which had a lot about lighting rigs and ended every other sentence with an ellipsis to signify wry wit – and Guy Pratt’s, which essentially went ‘woke up horribly late after too much cocaine and Guinness, then almost too late for the first number with Roxy Music as I’d inadvertently caught my cock between the E and A strings, then unfortunately drove to the wrong stadium’.

Which of these does your book lean most towards – and are there any other rock bios you’d recommend for any particular reason?

SCLDftP: More like Guy Pratt’s I guess – only my screw ups weren’t about cocaine and Guinness. I’m just a natural born fuck up. But I do use plenty of ellipses so you get the best of both worlds…

PSD: You’re a well-known polo player – a game that seems to have lots in common with my own sporting love, bowls. Assuming we still have time to put together a triathlon event for London 2012, which other sport should complete the trio – and why?

SCLDftP: Pocket billiards. I can tell we’re both good at it.

‘Strange Things Happen’ by Stewart Copeland is available from Amazon – and, as they say, all good bookshops. Now…

21 thoughts on “I interview Stewart Copeland, legendary drummer for the Police.

  1. 1. Was your Police tribute band called The Community Support Officers?

    2. Were you tempted to do the “I’ve got a police record” joke to SCLDftP? Only with the opposite punchline to usual, ie something like “Six months for assault”?

    3. I was expecting the tribute band line-up to read: “I had mastered Andy Summers’s complicated guitar lines; Iain, the drummer, could have filled in for Copeland himself; and Dave, who sang and played bass, was a complete c*nt.”

  2. Sam says:

    Oh wow, is that an early recording of the Police you’ve included by way of bonus material? Oh.

  3. guyana gyal says:

    Before I say anything about this interview…

    I saw Dolly Parton on CNN with Larry King, she mentioned Dollywood and I think she was going to say something about that man from Norfolk…but our phone rang and I had to go answer it as my mother was fast asleep and she couldn’t tell me if Dolly Parton said anything about that man from Norfolk.

  4. ellie says:

    At what point did you ask him for his autograph?

  5. I remember that “Walking on the Moon” song. It sucked. Then again, you also suck, so it’s a marriage made in heaven, really. Add your banjo into the mix and I’m pretty sure we’re attaining Black Hole levels of suckiness previously unimagined beyond the rarified circles of theoretical physics.

    It’s not as if The Police did not also inhale strongly, particularly that pious pratt Sting, but I suspect that even they would draw the line at the manglings your tribute band would’ve been handing out. Frankly I’m surprised that the interview was not a cunningly laid trap, so that Mr Copeland could beat you to death with a big, thick, leather-bound coffee table edition of his book…

  6. It is at 1.01 that your extraordinary talent rises before me like a gigantic phoenix made of custard creams!

  7. JonnyB says:


    Salvadore: I did consider b) of course. I truly did…

    Ellie I did not actually MEET him as he was in America, I’m afraid. But I am not especially an autograph person anyway. The only autograph I have got is Angus Fraser’s.

  8. Richard says:

    It would be rather wonderful if all interviews, regardless of subject, were conducted along the same lines.

    Anyway, it is a sad day as Foxy Emma, library assistant, has bought herself an appalling pair of spectacles.

  9. Sam says:

    Dollywood was on the telly on Sunday morning. I didn’t see anyone who looked obviously like they were from Norfolk – chickens on leashes, that sort of thing.

    Did you know that Dollywood is the largest employer in Tennessee? Dolly’s a good egg in my book. I’m sure Stuart’s lovely too.

  10. Lizzyb says:

    I was very impressed twice. Once because it wasn’t until the Sunday TV thing that I realised what an experience Dollywood is – and she gives books to kids and stuff.
    Second, the music. I nearly didn’t click on the tribute song in case there was a secret counter thing checking. Glad I did though – not often you get a completely original sounding tribute band…
    Can’t get enough ellipses either

  11. Paat says:

    I’m amazed you weren’t given the book to read first.

  12. guyana gyal says:

    Yes Sam, I agree, Dolly’s a good egg, she has a great sense of humour too.

    So, back to this interview…did JonnyB actually interview the chap or was it someone pretending to be him?

  13. spazmo says:

    It’s amazing how much autobiographical information you managed to slip into a three-question interview regarding another man’s autobiography, Jonny.

  14. Sam says:

    Someone pretending to be Stuart Copeland, or Jonny? Do you think he went all hoighty-toighty and sent some sort of work experience blogger in his place?

  15. JonnyB says:


    Thank you. It was genuinely him, as we corresponded via his official stewart_copeland(of_the_police)@thepolice.com email address.

  16. jonathan says:

    I remember when Stewart Copeland was on the panel for some reality talent show or other (was it the one where they choose some for a Lloyd Webber musical) and he was head and shoulders above anyone else on there, a real dry wit and sense of the absurdity of the situation… so it doesn’t surprise me how gamely he has responded to your unique style of questioning and I am sure it was indeed REALLY HIM.

    Also I am feeling self-concsious now about the many sets of ellipses that I have left you in this comment box over the last five years and I promise that this very next set will be the last ones (I’ll add a couple of extra dots to mark the occasion)…..

  17. guyana gyal says:

    JonnyB, I feel very bad for teasing you, I do. I was just teasin’.

  18. Sam says:

    I don’t know who the Police are, I suspect I’m at least 15 years too young. But I believe.

  19. Dave says:

    @Salvadore Vincent

    A bit harsh there I thought.

    We just needed the right backing track…

    Love Dave x

  20. Dave says:

    Yeah and guess who ended up in IT…

    Working for Sun Micro…

    Yeah. Me.

    So who’s laughing now? eh?


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