I have been a massive Police fan since I was a kid in the early 80s. My interest in Sting’s solo career peaked with his second solo record, Nothing Like The Sun. When The Soul Cages came out I thought, “What is he doing?! He needs to reform The Police!!” Soon after I had the opportunity to meet him in Chicago and I had it in my head that I would be the one to convince him to get The Police back together. When I did meet him he was so disarmingly nice I abandoned the whole thing, thinking, “Who the fuck am I? I’m just some kid to him!”
I showed him this original art, a double page spread in my Portrait Journal. Before signing it he said, “My head’s a bit big…” I thought, “I’m not touching that!!” “But it’s quite good.” I mumbled a thanks and wandered off to enjoy his set with my friends.
He was staying in the same hotel as my mom, the Ritz Carlton, I believe. My mom (who is the same age as Sting) was in the gym doing yoga when Sting came in to do yoga himself. My mom introduced herself and said, “I’m Omaha’s mom.” He said, “Yes, Omaha. Nice guy.” Weird.
I first met Andy Summers at the Bottom Line in New York City, winter of 94. He had recorded an acoustic album with guitarist John Etheridge. I knew very few people in New York, certainly no fellow Police fanatics. So, armed with my Portrait Journal I braved the blizzard alone. At the club I met some other young Police fans, also eager to meet Andy. Any hopes of hitting it off were dashed when these guys revealed themselves to be Genesis fans (the Phil Collins era).
I shared a table up front with an Etheridge fan and his wife or girlfriend. Andy, who plays primarily electric live, was cursing in the midst of the gig at his own (acoustic) playing. (I gathered that he had just completed an electric tour and hadn’t played acoustic recently.) I thought it was great- I really liked the album. He and Etheridge meshed beautifully. After the show, the Genesis fans and myself were allowed into Andy’s dressing room. Andy was clearly in a foul mood and none too thrilled to see us. I showed him the portrait of him in my Journal. As he signed it he said, “Doesn’t really look like me, does it? It looks like Danny Quatrochi (Police/Sting crew member)!” “What are you talking about?” I said, “It looks just like you!!”
One of my few friends in New York, a woman named Karen, was a talent agent at FBI- Frontier Booking International. Her boss was Ian Copeland. I was grateful when she invited me to an FBI party in Manhattan. There were a lot of beautiful young actresses. (A pretty red head gave me her number, but I don’t think I was ever able to get her out!) I think Karen introduced me to Ian- I may have introduced myself. I do know that I met him at the bar while some obnoxious guy was arguing with him about who the greatest rock drummer was. Ian, quite naturally, was of the opinion that it was Stewart! I jumped into the fray, Stewart having been my favorite drummer since I was 12 (Sorry Mickey, sorry Billy). Ian was great, very friendly, and happy to talk about his brother.. I would meet him again a few years later in LA.
In ‘95, I took my first staff job, moving from San Francisco to LA to work at Disney Interactive. Despite seeing Stewart perform live several times I had yet to meet him. I knew he lived in LA but was baffled by the credits on his solo records and soundtracks listing his studio as The Worried Rabbit, Nineveh Assyria. I knew he had spent his youth in Beirut and Cairo so I thought, maybe he spends part of the year over there? I finally looked it up to find that Nineveh was an ancient Mesopotamian city – in other words it was bullshit, he clearly did not live in a city abandoned in the early 7th century!
Digging further I found the name Kinetic Studios in Culver City. I mailed a color copy of my Stewart portrait from my Journal with a letter. A young guy my age, Ryan, called and invited me to Stewart’s studio! The next day I walked into Kinetic Studios, MTV Music Awards strewn on the floor. I don’t have much of a story for Stewart. He was at a computer working on a film score. Smiling and friendly he stopped to talk to me and sign the portrait. I gave him a framed painting which I imagine he stuck in a closet immediately (an attractive piece with nice colors but seeing as it collaged multiple figures of Stewart hanging from a noose <from the sleeve art of the “Can’t Stand Losing You” single> it was not the cheeriest image). Stupidly, I didn’t bring a camera!
From ’95 ‘til The Police Reunion in ’07 I saw every Stewart and/or Andy gig in LA I could possibly make. When Stewart and Andy were rumored to be appearing at the sold out The Police Rock en Español gig at the House of Blues Sunset, I went down there and scored a ticket. When they played with Incubus at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas, I was there (thanks to my good friend Mike McLaughlin for that one). George Martin presenting Beatles music at the Hollywood Bowl (Stewart on drums, and Andy a last minute addition on guitar), I was there. I had tickets to see Stewart play with The Doors (The Cult’s Ian Astbury on vocals) at the Universal Ampitheatre - was disappointed when Stewart had to cancel. Oysterhead at the Palladium. Andy at tiny jazz club The Baked Potato.
I was living in Glendale at the time, about 3 miles from the Cahuenga Blvd location that Andy played constantly. He seemed to play at least one night a week. I would have this conversation with myself, “but I just saw him last week, and the week before, and the week before..” before inevitably leaving my boring apartment to have a couple drinks and watch Andy rip it up, always with stellar musicians. Bassist Jerry Watts and drummer Bernie Dresel were the most regular rhythm section I can recall, though Gregg Bissonette was on drums at least a couple times. Latter day Who drummer Simon Phillips played one night, his kit hilariously crowding Andy and Jerry off the tiny stage. I went to most of Andy’s photo exhibits as well. Through all these, I got to know Andy and his assistant Dennis a little bit. I’ve got to say, Andy tended to be a bit grumpy when I showed up on my own, and to my amusement all smiles and charm when I would bring a woman! (Haha!) I showed him my artwork whenever I got the chance. He was particularly taken with my Puzzled 2 piece, saying to my delight “it would be a great album cover.”
The greatest of these little Hollywood gigs, was of course in,'07, when as one of Stewart’s “Nutters” I got into the Whisky A Go Go for The Police Rehearsals / Press Conference. It was unreal - by that point I had long since given up on The Police reuniting! Redundant, but it’s worth saying, I fucking love that band!