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Stewart Copeland

+ {Klark Kent}

One of the best-known and best-loved sticksmen in the business, due in part to his time in punk-era new wave-sters, The POLICE, American-born son of a CIA agent Stewart is now a multi-tasking film score-ist.
Born July 16, 1952, Alexandria, Virginia, although based in London, England since his salad days performing with neo-classical progsters CURVED AIR, the songwriting drummer extended his POLICE activities with the pseudonymous KLARK KENT disguise. While his main band were finding it tough to break into the mainstream with first-time-around flops `Roxanne’ and `Can’t Stand Losing You’ (eventually major hits in early ’79), his alter-ego alias KK proved initially fruitful as the quirky `Don’t Care’ dented the UK Top 50. As with all of his further punk-y ska efforts, it was released in gimmicky Kryptonite green vinyl, as was a belated 10” mini-set, entitled er… KLARK KENT (1980) {*5}. He duly knocked this goofball idea on the head and got down serious work with first love, The POLICE; while Stewart was responsible for scribing nearly half of 1979’s “Reggatta De Blanc”, he was afforded two tracks, `Bombs Away’ and `The Other Way Of Stopping’ from their platinum-selling, “Zenyatta Mondatta” (1980); `Darkness’ and `Rehumanize Yourself’ (with STING) credited the drummer on 1981’s “Ghost In The Machine”.
As the arena-filling trio went their separate ways after promoting their swansong “Synchronicity” set in ’83, COPELAND almost immediately emerged with his maiden OST on Francis Ford Coppola’s RUMBLE FISH (1984) {*7}. A nominee for a Golden Globe award, the highlight of this stylish soundtrack was undoubtedly the opening salvo/single, `Don’t Box Me In’, his collaboration with former WALL OF VOODOO singer/harmonica man, STAN RIDGWAY (using his birth name Stanard on this occasion). Setting music to the cool talents of Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke might’ve been daunting for other rock musicians, but haunting instrumentals such as `Our Mother Is Alive’, `Brothers On Wheels’, `West Tulsa Story’ and `Father On The Stairs’, spoke volumes for come-of-age COPELAND’s capacity to create.
Working with a raft of African musicians and composers, an hour-long video documentary turned album THE RHYTHMATIST (1985) {*7}, was another resounding success; it was also Stew’s only Top 200 Billboard entry at No.148. Sticking with the formulaic guest singer approach, Zaire-born RAY LEMA rewarding the drummer’s adventurous pilgrimage on attendant single, `Koteja’, and others including `Liberte’.
Further collaborations with ADAM ANT (on a title track single from the 1986 film, Out Of Bounds) and with Derek Holt of The CLIMAX BLUES BAND (on the single, `Love Lessons’) ensured some degree of limelight, although it was his concurrent commission for a TV series, THE EQUALIZER & OTHER CLIFF HANGERS (1987) {*6}, that maintain his high profile. Combined for one CD, 1988 movies WALL STREET + TALK RADIO (1988) {*5} provided further sustenance for fans of Hollywood soundtracks, while the kiddies might well’ve been taken in by the story of NOAH’S ARK (1990) {*6}, read by authoritative “Roots” actor James Earl Jones.
Missing out on band life, Stewart and legendary jazz-rock bassist STANLEY CLARKE had already assumed their position in Rush Hour (alongside POLICE guitarist ANDY SUMMERS), but when he found other projects more worthy of attention, the pair enticed fellow American singer-songwriter, Deborah Holland, into their ANIMAL LOGIC lair. A couple of average self-named albums into their brief liaison (their sophomore 1991 set was entitled, er… “II”), the ill-conceived jazz-fusion fizzled out.
Determined to get back on track with his soundtrack ventures, COPELAND was quite prolific in the 90s, rolling off a series of good scores/soundtracks in HIGHLANDER II (1991) {*5} – also released in conjunction with I & III from other composers, RAPA NUI (1994) {*5}, SILENT FALL (1995) {*5}, THE LEOPARD SON (1996) {*6} – featuring STANLEY CLARKE, FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER (1998) {*6} and SIMPATICO (2000) {*5}; note that LITTLE BOY BLUE (1998) and PECKER (1999) were shared efforts with various artists.
As if working with ballet and opera adaptations of King Lear, Holy Blood & Crescent Moon and Prey wasn’t enough for the workaholic multi-tasker, COPELAND teamed up at the turn of the millennium with OYSTERHEAD (a one-off album trio showcasing Les Claypool of PRIMUS and Trey Anastasio of PHISH) plus MAD FOR A RACKET (led by MC5’s WAYNE KRAMER and former DAMNED guitarist Brian James); a proposed stint with The DOORS of the 21st Century (MANZAREK, KRIEGER and The CULT’s Ian Astbury) led to an amicable settlement out of court.
Squeezed on either side of an ORCHESTRALLI (2004) {*4} CD/DVD package and the culmination of COPELAND’s work for TV’s 00s series, DEAD LIKE ME (2010) {*5}, the drummer got back in the stool for The POLICE reunification in May 2007; sadly no new work was forthcoming from the celebrated trio.
© MC Strong 2008/LCS // rev-up MCS Jan2013

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