“That song was going in the trash until I played on it”: Andy Summers hints at legal action against Sting over writing credits on Every Breath You Take

40 years after it was first released, it seems the Police guitarist still doesn’t feel he got his due for the iconic guitar part.

Sting and Andy Summers performing live with The Police

Image: Ebet Roberts/Redferns via Getty Images

When you purchase through affiliate links on Guitar.com, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more

Andy Summers has hinted that he might take legal action against Sting over the songwriting credits for Every Breath You Take, 40 years after The Police’s classic track was first released.

When asked about the 1983 hit on the podcast The Jeremy White Show, the former guitarist for The Police (as transcribed by Ultimate Classic Rock) says, “It’s a very contentious [topic] that is very much alive at the moment. That song was going in the trash until I played on it, and that’s all there is to it. And I think that’s composition, absolutely.”

Summers doesn’t go into further detail about his efforts to get a songwriting credit on the track, which was solely credited to Sting on the original album notes for Synchronicity, but does imply legal action might be on the way, saying, “Watch the press. Let’s see what happens in the next year.”

While Every Breath You Take might be one of The Police’s biggest hits, it proved to be one of their most difficult songs to complete. Sting began work on it in 1982 after breaking up with his first wife and embarking on a relationship with her friend.

But, initially, the song didn’t have a guitar part, and the band disagreed on what to do with it. Summers reiterated that the song was “going in the trash,” explaining, “Stewart [Copeland, drummer] and Sting couldn’t agree on where the drums and bass were gonna sit with the song. And it wasn’t going to make it onto the album.”

The only reason the track wasn’t abandoned in the end was that the band hadn’t filled out the album yet. Summers expanded, “We needed the material, and the famous story is Sting just turned to me and said, ‘Well, go on. Go in there and make it your own.’

“And of course, I had all this sort of stuff under my fingers. I was the Police stock-artist guitarist, if you like. And I went in and I got that lick almost, it was like one take. Everyone stood up and cheered.”

You can view the interview here:


The world’s leading authority and resource for all things guitar.

© 2024 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.