Andy Summers: ‘We Didn’t Get Anything’ From Puff Daddy
During an exclusive conversation with UCR, the Police guitarist looked back at the hip-hop hit, which famously sampled their song “Every Breath You Take.”
“It was one of those funny things,” Summers recalls of the moment he first heard Puff Daddy’s song. “My 10-year-old came in the house and came over. He goes, ‘Hey Dad, I want you to come listen to my radio in the room. There’s a guy who is completely doing your guitar thing.’ I went in and it was the first time I’d heard Puff Daddy and whatever he called that song. I went, ‘Oh my God.’”
Naturally, the rocker quickly took action.
“We went from there and called the manager,” he notes. “I think we ended up settling out of court and we got some kind of royalty. But I mean, I think he sold 30 million singles with that track or something and we didn’t get anything out of it.”
Indeed, “I’ll Be Missing You” was a massive success, reaching No. 1 in more than 15 countries, earning a Grammy award and becoming one of the biggest hits of 1997.
Listen to Puff Daddy's 'I'll Be Missing You'
Sting -- the only songwriter credited on “Every Breath You Take” -- was eventually awarded 100% royalties on “I’ll Be Missing You”, but Summers -- whose distinctive guitar riff was sampled for the rap tune -- didn’t get a thing.
“It happens,” the guitarist admits, adding that he continues to deal with similar issues to this day. “We’ve got one right now. The manager sent me a link. He said, ‘Is this a rip-off?’ It’s a rapper who has completely ripped off the guitar riff from “Message in a Bottle.” Totally stole it. So I said, ‘No, absolutely, it’s a complete steal.’ You say ‘cease and desist or we sue’ and you have to stop and take it off the air right now.”
Summers recently released a new collection of short stories titled Fretting and Moaning. The rocker drew inspiration from throughout his career for the tales, with music featured at the heart of each story.