Staying in France long before the start The Police found success were days of exploring a variety of seedy areas. Often, when a band is just beginning money is very tight. The Police meeting Roxanne came as a result of having no money. If the band would have been even a mediocre band, there is a good chance the outcome would be different. Arriving in France, the band was surviving on almost nothing, sharing a room, watching the travelers in Paris. The chance encounter of The Police and Roxanne occurred as a product of Sting’s keen eye.
The Police had just begun their careers in 1977, trying to find their way to a recording contract.
As with the beginning of most new bands, the start is usually a very tough time financially. Normally, a new band has to sacrifice food, shelter, jobs, and sometimes even family and friends. Often, the rock bands that become rock stars are the ones who were willing to sacrifice the most to get there.
The Police arrived in Paris trying to squeeze a dollar out of a dime, but they were nearly broke. Optioning to share a flat in Paris located in one of the worst areas of the city. The band’s window overlooked a dark alley and a section of the famed red-light district of Paris where Sting and The Police observed prostitutes attempting to earn a living on the street below.
The next night Sting wandered the streets alone “observing” the prostitutes working their hustle.
“Nevertheless, it proved far from a wasted journey. Inspired by a poster of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac peeling from the wall in the hotel’s rank foyer, Sting got this notion for a song that he played like a bossa nova on a nylon-stringed guitar.”
The story of The Police and Roxanne came later, “Roxanne, the object of Cyrano’s unrequited desire in Rostand’s tale, provided Sting with a name. The rest came from the scene in the alley. “It was the first time I’d seen prostitution on the streets, and those birds were actually beautiful. I had a tune going around in my head, and I imagined being in love with one of those girls.”
Though Sting did not originally write the song in the style it is today, he credits Stewart Copeland with giving it the sound Roxanne has today. Copeland suggested adding a tango beat to Roxanne eventually influencing Sting to add the slight reggae feel.
The song was a flop initially, banned in the UK because of the allusions to prostitution. Though Miles Copeland, Stewart’s brother, landed a record deal for The Police based on Roxanne. The story of The Police and Roxanne is the story of how The Police went from insignificant into virtual superstars.
The story of The Police and Roxanne is a love story showing how chance encounters can produce unimaginable results. A night in Paris where things seemingly went all wrong, leading to everything for The Police going alright. Roxanne is a name synonymous with Sting and The Police, forever remembered about falling in love with a woman of the night. The Police and Roxanne will be married for eternity.