A 15-year music veteran before he hit paydirt with The Police, it’s a miracle Summers didn’t pack it in earlier. With refreshing honesty, super-sharp memory and an almost filmic eye for detail, he recounts the various setbacks of his early days with a jobbing blues band (near-death car crash), Soft Machine (sacked after six months), and Eric Burdon’s Animals Mk II (manager kidnapped by Tokyo gangsters).
Summers drops in on his eventful past with a cute gimmick: he’s killing time before The Police play Shea Stadium, their last ever US concert. It triggers a series of flashbacks that take in childhood thrills, meetings with Clapton and Hendrix, drug binges with John Belushi and the eventual devastation of his domestic life. There’s also quite a lot about Sting and Stewart Copeland.
What elevates this above most rock autobiographies is the quality of the writing. Summers eschews dates and places for the nitty gritty of what actually happened. The bulk of readers will already know the where and when, but they may not be aware of how it all impacted on the man in the middle. Summers leaves no stone unturned, even at the risk of casting himself in a less than flattering light. Truly great.