Andy Summers Biography

Guitarist (1942–)
Andy Summers achieved international fame as the Grammy Award-winning guitarist of The Police, known for hits songs like "Message in a Bottle," "Every Breath You Take" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."


Andy Summers was born on December 31, 1942 in Lancashire, England. Summers established himself as a musician at a young age, playing in a psychedelic rock band, The Soft Machine and The Animals before joining The Police. After releasing several gold and platinum records with The Police—including the hit songs "Message in a Bottle," "Walking on the Moon," "Every Breath You Take" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"—Summers went on to a career in composition and experimental musical performance.

Early Life

Andrew James Summers was born in Lancashire, England, in the winter of 1942. Summers spent the majority of his childhood in Bournemouth, in the county of Dorset. Summers played the piano as a child, taking up the guitar as a teenager. By age 16, he was playing in local clubs. A couple of years later, he moved to London with his friend Zoot Money to break into the music industry.

Early Career

Summers and Money formed Zoot Money's Big Roll Band in the mid-1960s. Eventually, the band evolved into an acid rock outfit called Dantalian’s Chariot. Summers then played with The Soft Machine for six months and joined The Animals for a short time in 1968. His Soft Machine stint included a tour of the United States.

After living in Los Angeles for several years, Summers returned to London. There, Summers recorded and toured with a number of acts, including Kevin Coyne, Neil Sedaka, and Jon Lord. In 1977, Summers joined the band Strontium 90, along with future Police bandmates Sting and Stewart Copeland.

The Police

Sting and Copeland formed The Police in 1977, recruiting Summers months later. The band went on to international fame and produced chart-topping singles, including "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and the No. 1 hits "Message in a Bottle," "Walking on the Moon" and "Every Breath You Take." During his tenure with the band, Summers twice won the Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance. Although Sting was the lead vocalist of the band and its primary songwriter, Summers occasionally contributed lead vocals and original compositions.

Despite not being officially credited, Summers came up with the guitar riff for "Every Breath You Take," which reached no. 1 on the music charts for eight weeks and garnered two Grammys in 1983 — one for Song of the Year and the other for Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal.

The Police disbanded in early 1984, after seven years and record sales of around 80 million dollars. The group reunited in 2007, for a performance at the Grammys and a record-breaking successful world tour, ranked as the third highest-grossing tour of all time.


Over the course of his career, Summers has been prolific as a solo artist, a film composer, and noted author. Most of his music has focused on experimental instrumental music, but he returned to his rock roots briefly and put out a number of jazz albums in the 90s. He's scored films like Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Weekend at Bernie's and has collaborated and toured with artists such as John Etheridge, Robert Fripp, and Benjamin Verdery. In March 2005 he made his Carnegie Hall debut, performing a concerto with Verdery. 

In 2006 Summers authored the biography One Train Later, which inspired the 2012 music documentary, Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police. He formed a new band, Circa Zero, with guitarist Rob Giles of The Rescues, but their collaboration only lasted two years, ending in 2015.  

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