“Every Breath You Take was going in the trash until I played on it": Andy Summers suggests "watch the press" for future developments in a long-simmering dispute about the songwriting credits on The Police's Every Breath You Take

The Police
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images)

Every Breath You Take by The Police is one of the biggest and best-known songs of the 1980s. Released in 1983 as the first single from the band's fifth and final album Synchronicity, it topped the Billboard chart for eight weeks, and went on to became the best-selling single of 1983, the fifth-best-selling single of the decade, and the most played song in radio history in America. It also topped the UK charts for 4 weeks, and hit number one in Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and Israel.

The song is credited solely to The Police's frontman and bassist Sting, and according to a 2010 interview with the musician's publisher, it generates between a quarter and a third of Sting's publishing income. 

In a new interview however, The Police's former guitarist Andy Summers has hinted that this may change.

Hailed as "most heard guitarist of all time", Summers was a guest on the last week's edition of The Jeremy White Show podcast, where, among other topics, he was asked about the role he played in the song's success, bearing in mind its iconic guitar parts. His thoughts on the matter, as reported by Guitar World, suggest that the issue is a live one.

Every Breath You Take was going in the trash until I played on it,” Summers states baldly, which leads the host to ask why the guitarist doesn't have a songwriting credit on the track.

“It's a very contentious [topic] – it's very much alive at the moment,” Summers responds.

“Watch the press; let's see what happens in the next year,” he suggests. “That's all I can tell you.”

Listen to the podcast episode in full below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.