Those who visit Guild Hall in East Hampton on Thursday, July 5, will be treated to a guitar extravaganza featuring Andy Summers, most famous for his cool riffs as lead guitarist for The Police.
The performance is the kick-off concert for the Guitar Masters series, produced by Amagansett’s Taylor Barton, a three-day gathering in celebration of musicianship which features concerts, documentary films, and book signings.
Summers has also authored a memoir One Train Later, which led to the documentary, Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police, following Summers’s journey from his early days in the psychedelic 1960s music scene, when he played with The Animals, to chance encounters with drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist Sting, which led to the formation of one of the most famous groups ever, The Police.
During the band’s phenomenal rise and its dissolution at the height of its popularity in the mid-1980s, Summers captured history with his candid photographs, which will also be part of the show at Guild Hall.
Utilizing rare archival footage and insights from the guitarist’s side of the stage, Can’t Stand Losing You brings together past and present as the band members reunite, two decades later, for a global reunion tour in 2007.
The documentary will be shown at Guild Hall on Thursday afternoon, prior to the concert.
The Police practically defined the sound of the late 1970s Punk-New Wave movement, but according to Summers, who spoke with The Independent, it wasn’t a done deal while they were recording their debut album, Outlandos d’Amour.
“When we were recording Outlandos,” he said, “we had no hope or inkling of where it was going.” The album was funded with a small loan from the drummer Stewart Copeland’s brother, Miles, and was recorded when the trio — Summers, Copeland, and Sting — could find the time.
“We survived on a diet of hope and very little money,” Summers recalled with a laugh. And yet they knew there was something there. Even if the album — which is on every list as one of the best of that decade — were recorded today, Summers believes it would still be known for its inventiveness.
“I think the album would still do well today,” he said. “It had a lot of heat and freshness. It had originality.”
But as a young lad, before delving into the rock world, Summers’s first love was jazz. “I was a huge Blue Note Records fan,” he said. “As a teenager the biggest influence on me was jazz.”
Post-Police, Summers has recorded many albums, including Green Chimneys, a tribute album to a favorite of his, Thelonius Monk, and another album based on the sounds of Charles Mingus. “I wanted to be a jazz musician,” he said. “Some of my biggest influences were Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Hank Mobley, all the horn players.”
At one point, between his early success and the formation of The Police, Summers traveled to the States. Although the story, at least according to Wikipedia, is that he went with the intention to study classical guitar, Summers says it was more chance than purpose.
“I didn’t actually go there to study classical guitar, but rather I ended up there by default and stayed on. I went to college and studied classical guitar” at California State University.
Summers has a roster of awards and honors, too many to list here. Two Grammys, a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the keys to New York City, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Gibson Guitar Awards and Roland and BOSS, among many others. He was named the number one pop guitarist for five years by Guitar Player Magazine.
After The Police literally being the number one rock band in the world for years, Summers continued a prolific career as a solo artist, with many solo albums, photographic exhibitions, extensive touring and composing for film. In 2015 he released Metal Dog, an all instrumental album replete with razor edge guitar licks, which was critically acclaimed.
Summers has been a dedicated photographer since the early days of The Police and has published four books of his pictures. This year, Leica will release the Andy Summers Signature Leica camera and Fender will release a special edition guitar designed by Summers.
“My show at the festival will consist of a lot of my photography in projection, along with solo guitar,” he said.
Tickets for the documentary, the concert, which also includes a solo performance by Ralph Gibson, or any of the other shows through the upcoming Guitar Masters series, along with more info, can be found at www.guildhall.org.