If anyone thought Andy Summers was simply The Police’s guitarist, the rock doc “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” puts things straight. As much as this is a story of the legendary trio — comprising Summers, Sting, and Stewart Copeland — it’s Summers’s story, based on his 2006 memoir “One Train Later.”
“When I was doing the book, I didn’t want to write about The Police at all,” Summers tells Metro. “I thought I had a whole story there without it. I didn’t want to confront that bit at all; it was the most difficult part to write about.”
Summers narrates and, in between those familiar Police hits, his elegantly unobtrusive score supports the visuals. Director and editor Andy Grieve brings in The Police’s massive 2007-2008 reunion tour footage (directed by Lauren Lazin), and weaves in archival footage and Summers’s considerable collection of photographs.
But Summers is right, even before joining The Police in the mid-’70s, his story was fully loaded with rock and roll history: From playing in a beat band in Swingin’ ’60s London, joining UK R&B legend Zoot Money, and less notably, being in the horribly named Dantalian’s Chariot. A call from Eric Burdon took Summers to L.A. to join The Animals. That imploded and he returned to England with his wife Kate, and hooked up with Kevin Coyne. When Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones, Summers was on a notable shortlist of replacements.
“It’s so bizarre,” Summers says at how different his story could have turned out. “At the time, I was in London, a hot guitarist on the scene, my star was rising. I went from that to joining a punk band with no future,” the amazingly youthful looking 72-year-old says. “It was based completely on instinct. I wanted to be in a trio and I could see how good the other two were. The rest is history.”
Summers doesn’t gloss over his personal and career lows, and talks freely about drugs and partying — in the doc, he and Copeland hook up with the late John Belushi at one point. (No details are given: One can only imagine…) Overall, The Police’s musical bond is obvious and, even when the cracks appear, the band seems dignified in their differences.
“I’ve never heard anyone say that about our band before,” Summers chuckles at the word dignified. “But the press did portray us as three guys who hated each other 24/7. It’s not true. What I like about the film is it does reveal the camaraderie and the humor. Of course, we had camaraderie. We had too many good times and such success. Obviously, something worked.