BOOKLIST REVIEW - 09.15.06 "The guitarist of the Police begins his entertaining, highly readable memoir of superstardom near the end, on August 18, 1983, at Shea Stadium, when the band became the first to play there since the Beatles. It was one of the band's last concerts. Thereafter, Summers discusses, quite eloquently, the Faustian pact fame seemingly involves, which in his case entailed divorce and estrangement from his daughter. He also spends a good portion of the book on his earlier life: his English seaside childhood in Bournemouth, his parents' difficult marriage (he and his younger brother were placed in an orphanage for six months), the first inklings of musical talent. He reports years of struggle, later moderate success in nationally known bands, and stints in the internationally known Soft Machine and the Animals before the Police. By his lights, life on the road with the Police was one hotel room in a strange city after another."
"A candid appraisal of the cost of celebrity."
Engaging memoir by the guitarist for megaselling rock band The Police. Summers's account of his eventful career as a journeyman musician focuses squarely on his devotion to music and the process of mastering his instrument; those hoping for a lurid, behind-the-scenes tell-all will be disappointed. For the record, he paints Police front man Sting as self-involved and high-handed, drummer Stewart Copeland as motor-mouthed and overbearing ‚ but he doesn't dwell on these traits. Nor does he dwell on drugs consumed and groupies enjoyed, describing such diversions as mundane aspects of the itinerant musician's life. More interesting is his life as a perennial cusp-of-fame British Invasion utility man ina career theat included stints with the Animals; Zoot Moneyís Big Roll Band; and Neil Sedaka. He rubbed shoulders with Clapton and Hendrix, toured relentlessly and practiced, practiced, practiced, finding himself at the end of it broke and giving guitar lessons to survive for an extended period in the 1970s. But then he met Sting and Copeland. The author analyzes incisively the unique sound of The Police, which benefitted greatly from his past forays into jazz and classical guitar, bringing an unprecedented degree of musicianship to the era's requisite "punk" sound. The most arresting passages here describe the groupís mammoth world tours: He sharply observes the cultural strangeness of Japan (where he falls foul of the yakuza) and his experiences in Easyern Europe and the military dictatorships of Argentina and Chile ‚ simultaneously terrifying and surreally amusing, as are his adventures as John Belushi's drug buddy. Summers is refreshingly endearing, with a self-deprecating wit, brisk pacing and elegant turns of phrase. A pleasant journey through some of pop musicís more interesting times. (Agent: Susan Schulman/Susan Schulman Literary Agency)
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW
Summers-a musician best known for playing guitar in the seminal 1980's band the Police-recounts the details of his time in the spotlight and his circuitous and fantastic journey toward fame in a memoir that is just as generous (and sometimes meticulous) in providing details as it is in exploring the human toll of living out the "collective fantasy" of being a "rock god." There are many great rock moments that dazzle ‚ hanging with Clapton, jamming with Hendrix, hallucinating with John Belushi-but the less extraordinay memories make for a more compelling narrative: he recalls his childhood in England, where, after an "immediate bond" with the guitar, "the spiritual side of life slowly fills with music." Narrated in the present tense and with occasionally vivid language (Summers recounts "the familiar backstage" as "the taste of Jack stuck on a Wheat Thin"), every rock cliche is described (drugs, sex, ego), but refreshingly, little is romanticized. This is a stage-side account of the birth, rise and dissipation of the Police-and fans of the band will not be disappointed-but it is also an honest travelogue of a British kid who, subsisting "on a diet of music and hope," traversed the most coveted lanscapes of pop culture and lived to write about it. (Oct.) Copyright 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsivier Inc. All rights reserved.
LIGHT STRINGS: IMPRESSIONS OF THE GUITAR Photographs by Ralph Gibson with text by Andy Summers Los Angeles: September 21 through October 15, 2004 New York: November 4 through December 17, 2004 September 21 through October 15, Hermes will inaugurate its Los Angeles gallery with Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar, a collaboration between photographer Ralph Gibson and guitarist Andy Summers. The exhibition will include twenty-five never-before-seen photographs by Ralph Gibson. The exhibition can be seen, from November 4 through December 17 at the Gallery at HermËs in New York City. A book featuring images from the exhibition will be published simultaneously by Chronicle Books. The Gallery in Los Angeles is located on the third floor at 434 North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills; the Gallery in New York City is located on the fourth floor at 691 Madison Avenue. Ralph Gibson started playing ukulele when he was twelve and got his first guitar at thirteen. He never lost his love for the guitar especially during his stint in the U.S. Navy, where he first learned to take photographs. He still plays every day in his studio, where the amplifier is never turned off. Andy Summers began his artistic career at fourteen, working at a photo booth on the pier of his English seaside hometown. He dreamed about owning a Gibson guitar even then, but he never lost his appreciation for photography. Friends for many years, and each now the master of his medium, they have wanted to collaborate on a project for years. Together, Gibson and Summers have created in Light Strings: Impressions of the Guitar, a poetic meditation on the guitar. Both artists honor the instrumentís sensual form and its aesthetic relationship to the human body. ìWorking with Ralph on Light Strings was a great pleasure,î said Summers, ìbecause not only did we have fun messing about with guitars, but I was also able to observe the process of a great photography master.î Gibson said, ìDoing this project with Andy was an opportunity for me to express in visual terms my feelings for the guitar that I could not express in musical terms.î Andy Summers achieved enormous fame as the guitarist for The Police. The band sold more than seventy-five million records, gathered nine Grammy awards, and toured stadiums worldwide in the 1980s. Summers was inducted into the Guitar Player Hall of Fame after being voted number-one guitarist for five consecutive years in Guitar Player magazine. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. His new recording The Xtracks (R & M records) is scheduled for worldwide release in September. Summers lives in Los Angeles. Ralph Gibson began his career as an assistant to Dorothea Lane and went on to work with Robert Frank on two films. Beginning with The Somnambulist in 1970, he has produced more than thirty-five monographs. His photographs have been shown in more than two hundred one-man shows, most notably at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the MMK in Frankfurt, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Gibson's awards include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Leica Medal of Excellence. He is a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. Gibson lives in New York. Recent exhibitions at the Gallery at HermËs in New York City include Rene Burriís architectural photographs and Bruce Davidsonís Subway, which coincided with the New York City Subway centennial.