It is very hard to talk about the great drummers of all times without mentioning Steward Copeland.
Even when you hear some of the big names, chances are they have gone through Steward Copeland’s hands or inspired by it. Even though Sting‘s melody has become ubiquitous, there is no doubt they are enjoying what the Police have become because of Copeland.
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He inspired the unique use of space, subtlety, and aggression that has been an inspiration for many generations. His contribution helped shape the band in so many ways that his footsteps cannot be easily erased. And even if the band expands, his style will always follow along.
We all know how the snare is an important component of a drummer. However, it is amazing the Copeland become a major drummer who was least interested in playing the snare. And even today, this approach is still uncommonly bright and cutting.
Instead, his signature components mostly include intricate hi-hat parts, defined by his work on the “Red Rain” by Peter Gabriel.
Perhaps the reason Copeland was so good in what he did had something to do with his background and early life. His father, Miles, was a diplomat who traveled and lived in different spots across the Middle East. And he brought into the Police rhythmic accents far from native England.
He remained a key figure, therefore changing the face of the band and helping it grow from strength to strength. Every unique style he brought onboard become a stepping stone for greater heights.
Even though there was so much antagonism, the band’s first record was dedicated to Stewart’s efforts, thanks to Sting’s intervention.
Stewart’s work was so unique that it helped create the name and brand of the band. This is perhaps the reason Sting felt it was only right to allow the Copeland to be recognized for his dedication and efforts.
When Primus‘ Les Claypool, who began playing with him in 2000, talked about Copeland’s work, he never failed to show his excitement and amusement.
For years, Les says he had been trying to understand Copeland’s snare or the Start Copeland hi-hat sound. He tried it several times until he figured out where the unique snare sound came from.
Copeland had his own way of attacking the drums and playing them, which brought out every sound precisely and clearly. Nothing else mattered when the drummer held his sticks. Everyone listening to Copeland would be thrilled, not only to hear him in action by also to listen to his innovative works.
Since they started jamming together, Les Claypool says he has learned so much from Copeland than he would from anyone else in the industry. It is the inspiration he creates in people and the interest he builds around him that make Stewart envy in the industry.
And for many years, other drummers have had the opportunity to learn from him. Though it is hard to capture his interest in other parts apart from the snare, it is clear Copeland’s footprint is stack in the industry forever.