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

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

by Stewart Copeland


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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 memoirin- stories, Strange Things Happen. Most people know 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 filmmaking 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 and their rise to stardom, to the settled-down life that followed. It’s a book of amazing anecdotes, all completely true, that take us backstage in a life that is fully lived.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061791512
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 1,199,978
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

I Strange Things Happen 1

1 A Letter to a Childhood Friend (2009) 3

2 Wardrobe (Late 1980s) 5

3 Lebanon (1957-67) 8

4 Music (1968) 15

5 Curved Air (1975) 28

6 Tagging London (1977) 34

7 Klark Kent (1978) 36

8 A Quick History of the Police (1976-78) 46

9 Police Rule (1979-84) 51

II Learning to be Normal 57

10 Congo (1984) 59

11 Horses (1987) 75

12 Opera: Holy Blood, Crescent Moon (1989) 90

13 Bake-Off in Fort Worth (1990) 103

14 Horse Opera (1992) 108

III Still not Normal 113

15 Oysterhead (April 2000) 115

16 Hall of Fame (March 2003) 131

17 La Notte Della Taranta (August 2003) 136

18 Incubus: The Hybrid (December 2004) 151

19 Dancing with the (Poll) stars (February 2004) 157

20 Scoring with Anjelica (March 2005) 161

21 For Flying with the Fly Foos (June 2005) 168

22 Gizmo (2005) 178

23 Judge Hard Place and the BBC (2006) 195

24 The Grateful Dad (2007) 208

25 Sundance (2005) 214

IV Abnormal Again 223

26 Lock up your Mothers: We're Back (February 2007) 225

27 Will this Fly? (2007) 231

28 Eberhard Sets us Free (1978) 234

29 A Mighty wind in the Magic Stingdom (May 2007) 237

30 The Disaster Gig (May 2007) 239

31 Angry in Edmonton (June 2007) 242

32 Conquering Heroes (June 2007) 245

33 Malibu Fey Choir (June 2007) 251

34 How Big is my Amp! (June 2007) 253

35 Aftershow Ritual (July 2007) 259

36 Tuba in Turin (October 2007) 263

37 Four Beers and the President (October 2007) 270

38 Raging Kumbaya (January 2008) 277

39 Slav on a Slab (June 2008) 282

40 Burning the Golden Goose (1984) 286

41 Singapore Showdown (February 2008) 288

42 Toast in the Machine (August 2008) 293

43 Elvis is Leaving the Building (August 2008) 302

Afterword: The Green Flag (2009) 309

Appendix A Who 313

Appendix B What 323

Acknowledgments 330

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Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
gaskella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The emphasis is on fun in this memoir - for Copeland is a hyperactive sort, workaholic but easily bored, loving a challenge, never playing anything quite the same way twice, liking to be boss, and he's also much more than a mere drummer.Jumping about in time with flashes back and forward, the book opens with pages about his childhood in Beirut, where he played with Harry Philby - yes, son of that Philby, and where his Dad was big in the CIA, through moving to boarding school in England, learning the drums and then in 1975 joining his first professional band Curved Air where he must have broken many a boy's heart by marrying the elfinly beautiful lead singer Sonja Kristina. Then - The Police - the band that made him world famous. Copeland deals with their initial years in just ten pages. It's clear that our mission, should we choose to accept it, is really to read about what Stewart did next ...The next big chunk of the book takes us up to 2007, and there's a lot to tell. Playing polo against Prince Charles, making a film in Africa, playing with many other bands, and developing a love for the pizzica music of Salento in Southern Italy, meeting his second wife Fiona, and having a ball being a judge on the BBC celebrity duet show 'It takes two' ... all great fun. Then, there's the main day job as a composer. Copeland studied composition at college, and post Police, he composed an opera - not a rock one, a proper, grand one - with a plot based on the crusades; it was staged in Cleveland to a largely enthusiastic response. Following this is a long career, in between all these adventures, as a film and TV composer, having composed scores for many movies and lots of TV work, notably starting with Coppola's Rumblefish.Then it all comes round again. Copeland's hobby project of editing all the film he took during the Police years into a movie is entered for the Sundance festival. For the first time in ages, the three musicians are reunited at the festival when Sting turns up for the premiere. This event sows the seeds for the Police reunion tour which takes up the final 100 pages.Stewart & Sting's stormy relationship is the stuff of legend. Now they're both older and wiser, you might expect them to have mellowed. It starts off well, but these guys have had years of being top dogs now, and before long they're circling around each other, spoiling for a fight. They cope though, letting the music do it's work and manage eighteen months on tour.This book is mainly about his career and working families, rather than the loving one at home. We find out very little about his parents, siblings, and even less about his seven (yes!) kids, although there's a nice photo of them all at the end. Copeland however, is an aimiable yet sparky host, always capable of seeing the funny side of things; his straight talking and writing style always lets us know what he thinks. What also come through strongly are what he sees as the shamanistic properties of music to inspire and inhabit a body - any music has the possibility to do this, and refreshingly he embraces this philosophy throughout.Copeland is anything but a normal rock star - and this is an excellent read for any music fan, I really enjoyed it. Finally, a big thank you to Scott who arranged to get me a signed and dedicated copy of this book - much appreciated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wvd1979 More than 1 year ago
When I sat down to write this review, it was difficult to describe what this book is really about. It is not a strict biography written in chronological fashion. It is not a detailed history of Stewart's career with The Police. To put it in simplest terms...this book is a collection of experiences spanning a 60 year period from Stewart's childhood abroad to his days as a senior citizen rocker. There is no definitive timeline with these stories, and most of the subjects will appear to come out of nowhere... But that's what makes this book unique. This book shows us the other Stewart Copeland. A man who has shared a polo field with British royalty and shared a concert stage with the Foo Fighters. A man who gives hot showers a religious quality to the point where they become a staple in almost every tale he weaves for us. This is not a simple rock and roll mud slinging fest. This is a look at Stewart's life and career told through his own words. The story can be hard to follow since the topics change frequently; and for those readers who only want to know about The Police, this may not be the book for you. However, if you want to get an in-depth look at a great rock drummer, this is a book worth reading. Some people will say the book does not make sense, but perhaps that is the author's intent here. "Strange Things Happen" is a fitting title because it reflects the adventures and strange happenings that accompany rock star life. As I read this book, I watched Stewart Copeland develop from a one-dimensional rock drummer into an artist and a man with diverse talent and interest. This book is similar to life: some of it you'll like, some of it you won't like, but you'll come to appreciate most of it in time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Copeland covers what he's been doing since the original The Police broke up through the end of the second coming of The Police. It's a wild self deprecating ride on polo ponies, Indie movie making, the movie music business, Italian rock stardom, British reality television, all-star celebrity parent bands, all star jam bands, and finally the isolation and exhilaration of re-living the rock god life. I found myself skimming some of the overly long and detailed descriptions of certain events. Subjects seem to change abruptly with no discernable transition. But, it's more about how it feels than linear story telling. I found it an enjoyable read.
LesleyinVA More than 1 year ago
The first chapter engages right away, and many of the revelations about Stewart's "Diplobrat" childhood are fascinating. However, I found that the tale began to drag when the too-detailed chapter on polo began. I know...blasphemy...Mr. Copeland...but for this reader/Police fan it's a bit too much! I thoroughly enjoyed the parts that documented the rise of The Police (in my opinion one of the greatest bands ever!) and found much of the writing laugh-out-loud funny. ("leather pants, pointy shoes, hostile shirts.") What the heck makes a shirt "hostile"??? :0 I'm guessing the polka dot one you favored in the '80's is Exhibit A. Overall, an enjoyable, witty recollection that Police fans...or fans of Copeland in general...will thoroughly enjoy. The cover shot alone is worth the price of the book. sigh. Brings back SO many lustful memories. It's not hard to see why he's the father of SEVEN! Go Stewie!
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
This was a fascinating bio of the Police drummer. Although I'm not necessarily a big Police follower, I enjoyed the stories, the glimpses of the life on the road - unbelievable. After reading this, though, I was so grateful for my boring life. His life just seemed so empty of deepness and very one-dimensional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having been a drummer since the age of 5 I have been asked many times what it's like. Making a living playing drums is pure joy, followed by pure agony, followed by pure joy once again. Stewart has a no nonsense way of putting you in his chair and explaining in perfectly understandable terms what being in a band is all about. This is a very entertaining book written by a very open and honest guy. It is definitely a great read for any music fan, especially those of you living with that great far off fantasy of playing drums in a band. The author is one of the most widely respected drummers in the world. Stewart Copeland, I salute you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a lifelong drummer, and Stewart describes the reasons we do this music stuff very adequately. It's not money! A good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago