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Stewart Armstrong Copeland (born July 16, 1952) is an American musician, best known as the drummer for the band The Police. During the group's extended hiatus from the mid-1980s to 2007, he played in other bands and composed soundtracks.


Copeland was born in Alexandria, Virginiamarker, the youngest of four children of CIA officer Miles Copeland, Jr. and Scottishmarker archaeologist Lorraine Adie. The family moved to Cairomarker, Egyptmarker a few months after his birth, and Copeland spent his formative years in the Middle East. In 1957, the family moved to Beirutmarker, Lebanonmarker and Copeland attended the American Community School there. He started drum lessons at age twelve and by age thirteen he was playing drums for school dances. Later he moved to England and attended Millfieldmarker from 1967 to 1969. Copeland went to college in Californiamarker, attending United States International University and UC Berkeleymarker. Returning to England, he worked as road manager for the progressive rock band Curved Air's 1974 reunion tour, and then assumed drumming duties for the band during 1975 and 1976.

Personal life

Copeland was married to Curved Air vocalist Sonja Kristina from 1982 to 1991. Copeland currently lives in Los Angeles with his second wife, Fiona Dent.

Copeland has seven children: four sons (Sven, Patrick, Jordan and Scott) and three daughters (Eve, Grace and Celeste). He has one grandchild (Kaya).

Copeland's oldest brother Miles Copeland III, founder of I.R.S. Records, was manager of the Police and has overseen Stewart's interests in other music projects. Stewart's other brother, the deceased Ian Copeland, was a pioneering booking agent who represented the Police and many others. His father, Miles Copeland, once worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), according to files released by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2008.

Copeland's hobbies include rollerskating, cycling along the beach in Santa Monica, filmmaking and playing polo.


Copeland is known for precise, energetic, and creative rock-influenced drumming along with a lebanese- and jazz-influenced style. His distinctive sound centers on a hard, high-pitched crack on a snare drum or rimshot, subtle hi-hat work with understated flourishes. During his years with the Police, he became known for engaging only the hi-hat with bass drum to keep the beat in many Police tracks. Copeland is a master of the syncopated beat, and his distinct approach consolidates his position as an important drummer on the world stage, subsequently influencing generations of drummers.

Copeland is also noted for his heavy emphasis on the groove as a complement to the song, rather than displays of technical prowess. He once drove this point home at a drum clinic: Copeland announced that he would show the audience something "that very few modern drummers can do," and proceeded to play a simple rock beat for two minutes. Nonetheless, his playing often incorporates spectacular fills and subtle inflections which greatly augment the groove. Compared to most of his 1980s contemporaries, Copeland's snare sound was very bright and cutting. Another novelty was his use of splash cymbals. He also is one of the few rock drummers using the traditional grip rather than the matched grip.


Stewart Copeland currently uses Tama Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Remo Drum Heads & Vater Drum Sticks.

The Police Reunion (2007-2008) Tour Kit

  • Tama Starclassic Maple Drums and Paiste Cymbals:
  • Drums - Custom Police Blue Sparkle Maple Wood
    • 10x8" Tom
    • 13x9" Tom
    • 12x8" Tom (To the left of his snare drum)
    • 16x16" Floor Tom
    • 18x16" Floor Tom
    • 20x14" Tama Gong Drum
    • 22x18" Bass Drum
    • 14x5" Tama SC145 Stewart Copeland Signature Snare
    • Tama Custom Police Blue Sparkle Octobans (x4) (custom made for Copeland)
  • Cymbals - Paiste
    • 12" Prototype Micro Hi-Hats
    • 16" Signature Full Crash
    • 17" Signature Fast Crash
    • 18" Signature Fast Crash
    • 18" Signature Full Crash
    • 18" 2002 Flat Ride (prototype)
    • 22" Signature Blue Bell Ride
    • 10" Signature Splash
    • 8" Signature Bell
    • 8" Signature Prototype Splash

  • Stewart also uses his own Vater Stewart Copeland Standard Sticks.

Original Kit set-up (1984)

  • Tama Imperial Star Mahogany Drums (9-ply) or Tama Superstar Birch Drums (4 or 6-ply) and Paiste Cymbals:
  • Drums - Midnight Blue
    • 10x8" Rack Tom
    • 12x8" Rack Tom
    • 13x9" Rack Tom
    • 16x16" Floor Tom
    • 14x5" Snare
    • 22x14" Bass Drum
    • 20x16" Tama Gong Drum
    • Tama Octobans (x4)
    • Two Tama Tymp Toms
  • Cymbals - Paiste
    • 13" Formula 602 Medium Hi-Hats
    • 16" 2002 Thin Crash
    • 8" 2002 Bell (x2)
    • 8" 2002 Splash (x2)
    • 11" 2002 Splash
    • 14" Rude Crash Ride
    • 16" Rude Crash Ride
    • 24" Rude Ride Crash
    • China

The Police

In 1977, Copeland founded the Police with singer/bassist Sting and guitarist Henry Padovani (who was soon replaced by Andy Summers), which became one of the top bands of the 1980s.

Frequently cited recordings with the Police include:

Klark Kent

Copeland also recorded under the pseudonym Klark Kent, releasing several UK singles in 1978 with one ("Don't Care") entering the UK Singles Chart that year, along with an eponymously titled 10-inch album on green vinyl released in 1980. In a 2006 online chat, Copeland "revealed" (with tongue in cheek) that A&M Records signed the Police in order to get Klark Kent.


  • "Don't Care" / "Thrills" / "Office Girls" - 1978
  • "Too Kool To Kalypso" / "Kinetic Ritual" - 1978
  • "Away From Home" / "Office Talk" - 1980
  • "Rich In A Ditch" / "Grandilinquent" - 1980



Later career

In 1982 Copeland was involved in the production of a WOMAD benefit album called Music and Rhythm.

In 1983, Copeland composed a musical score to earn a Golden Globe nomination for his scoring of Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish. The film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola from the S.E. Hinton novel also had a song released to radio on A & M Records "Don't Box Me In - Theme From Rumblefish" — a collaboration between Copeland and singer/songwriter Stan Ridgway, leader of the band Wall of Voodoo, that received significant airplay upon release of the film that year.

After The Police stopped touring in 1984, Copeland established a career composing soundtracks for movies (Airborne (1993), Talk Radio, Wall Street, 'Riff Raff, 'Raining Stones, Surviving the Game, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Highlander II: The Quickening, The Leopard Son, She's Having a Baby, Taking Care of Business, West Beirut, I am David), television (The Equalizer, Dead Like Me, Star Wars: Droids, the original pilot for Babylon 5 (1993), Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee), and video games (Spyro the Dragon and The Agents), along with operas (Holy Blood and Crescent Moon, commissioned by Cleveland Opera) and ballets.

In 1985, Copeland released a solo album, The Rhythmatist. Featuring drums and percussion, the record was the result of a pilgrimage to Africa. In 1988 he followed up with The Equalizer & Other Cliff Hangers on I.R.S. No Speak, an album collecting some of his soundtrack efforts.

In 1986, Copeland teamed with Adam Ant to record the title track and video for the Anthony Michael Hall movie Out of Bounds.

In 1989, Copeland formed Animal Logic with jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and singer songwriter Deborah Holland. The trio had success with their first album and world tour but the followup recording sold poorly, and the band did not continue.

Copeland has occasionally played drums for other artists including Peter Gabriel.

In 1993 he composed the music for Ch 4's Horse Opera and director Bob Baldwin.

He was commissioned by Insomniac Games and Universal Interactive Studios (now Vivendi) in 1998 for making the music scores in the hit Playstation game Spyro the Dragon. He was later recommissioned to make the music scores for the sequels Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, and Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly.

In 2000, he joined with Les Claypool of Primus (with whom he produced a track on the Primus album Antipop) and Trey Anastasio of Phish to create the band Oysterhead. In 2002, Copeland was hired by Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors to play on a new album and tour, but after an injury sidelined Copeland, the arrangement ended in mutual lawsuits. In 2005, Copeland released Orchestralli, a live recording of chamber ensemble performing music of his own composition on a short tour of Italy in 2002. Also in 2005, Copeland started Gizmo, a new project with avant-garde guitarist David Fiuczynski. The band made their U.S debut on September 16, 2006 at the Modern Drummer Drum Festival.

In January 2006, Copeland premiered his film about the Police called Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out at the Sundance Film Festival. In February and March, he appeared as one of the judges on the BBC television show Just the Two of Us (A role he later reprised for a second series in January 2007).

At the 2007 Grammy Awards, Copeland, Andy Summers and Sting performed the song "Roxanne" together again as The Police. This marked the band's first public performance since 1986 (they had previously reunited only for an improvised set at Sting's wedding party in 1992 and for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in 2003). One day later, the band announced that in celebration of The Police's 30th anniversary, they would be embarking on what turned out to be a one-off reunion tour on May 28, 2007. In addition to this, Copeland released the compilation album The Stewart Copeland Anthology.

In March 2008, Copeland premiered new orchestral composition "Celeste" at "An Evening with Stewart Copeland", part of the Savannah Music Festival. The performance featured classical violinist Daniel Hope. Copeland's appearance at Savannah included a screening of Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out and a question and answer session.

On August 21, 2009, Copeland unveiled a recent composition, "Retail Therapy," as part of the La Jolla, California, Music Society's SummerFest '09. The song was commissioned from Copeland by the Music Society. Copeland performed three more original works: "Kaya," "Celeste" and "Gene Pool," the latter assisted by San Diego-based percussion ensemble red fish blue fish. Copeland was also present for a composer's roundtable and a question and answer discussion in conjunction with the festival.

Copeland wrote the score for an updated theatrical presentation of chariot-racing saga Ben-Hur, premiered September 17, 2009, at The O2 arena marker. Copeland also provided English-language narration of the production, which is performed entirely in Latin and the Aramaic language.

In September 2009, a memoir by Copeland entitled Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies was released by Harper Collins. According to an interview Copeland conducted with the Californian music store Amoeba Music, the book chronicles much of Copeland's life, from his childhood through the police's career and into Copeland's current adult life.

In October 2009 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.

Other media

Latin rockers La Ruta close out their 1998 debut album ...Adios, Ruperto with "The Returning Adventures of Klark Kent", an instrumental tribute to Copeland.

Alternative rock band Sparky's Flaw released a song titled "Stewart Copeland" as a part of their 2005 EP album One Small Step.

In 2007 Copeland and Summers joined the rock band Incubus during the Incubus song "Stellar" at one of their concerts. In the middle of "Stellar", Incubus performed a verse from "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". Copeland and Summers joined in for that song, "Message in a Bottle", and "Roxanne".

In 2008, RIM commissioned Copeland to write a "soundtrack" for the BlackBerry Bold. Copeland created a highly percussive theme of one minute's length, from which he evolved six ringtones and a softer 'alarm tone' for when the device is used as an alarm clock. All of these tunes are preloaded into the Bold's system memory.


  1. Film: "Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out"
  2. Early days, the Middle East, music biz & Curved Air
  3. Julia Child, Others Part of Spy Network, AOL News, August 14, 2008
  4. Playing style of Stewart Copeland
  5. "Review: Police’s Stewart Copeland rocks SummerFest"
  6. "When in London, do as the Romans... Ben-Hur O2 show to be staged in Latin and Aramaic"
  7. BBC Radio 3
  8. "Stewart Copeland puts message in a bottle for BlackBerry Bold owners"

External links

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