Stewart Copeland of The Police was holding up a doll.
At first he wanted to know what it was doing in the unkempt KSJO
studios. Then he was dismayed to see that the curly mop-topped,
chubby, plastic cuddly, clad only in station decals, had but one ear.
"What’s with all this?" he asked me.
"Well. It’s another one of those odd, unpredictable
twists in the comings and goings at a rock station. Not unlike this
I proceeded to explain how our morning man, The Real
Mother Deal, had launched a personal on-air campaign that pretty much
genuinely reflected his disappointment in his salary. Or lack of
salary, to his way of thinking.
To shrink the gap between that salary and his personal
idea of what he was worth, he had solicited listeners to send him one
dollar. He explained how just one dollar from each of his listeners
would cushion his pain over the shortfall. Hell, had every listener
sent him one dollar, he would have been raking in more salary than
Bobby Bonds was at that time. Bobby’s son Barry, who was then
attending Sierra High on the Peninsula, might very well have
"One day," I told Copeland, "This doll arrived in
Deal’s mail. No one had the first clue what to make of it. All I could
think of was the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s scion son.
The next day, an envelope splotched with red
something’er other, probably lipstick, was delivered. Inside was the
doll’s missing left lug with a scribbled note; ‘Here’s your doll ear,
I hope it helps.’
That interview was definitely one of the weirdest I
ever conducted. For one thing, it was an over-the-top coup. I was
blessed – or punished – to be the first person in America to interview
the band. It was a Sunday and I never worked Sundays. The Police were
headlining the Berkeley Community Theater, their first ever North
America concert date. The show was sold out. Sold out despite the fact
that this threesome had never before sold one single concert ticket
before in the U.S. Hell, they hadn’t yet sold one record in the U.S.
But a few stations around the country like KSJO had
been relentlessly banging a bootleg copy of a live recording of this
new song "Roxanne," to rave phone reaction. That was one big reason A
& M Records had brought this breakthrough trio to our studios first.
There was just one thing; Only two-thirds of this trio
was inside at a microphone. This new kid Sting – who in time, would
prove that next to Eddie Murphy, he could sing about the red lights
better than anyone – stubbornly remained ensconced in the limo. Maybe
the first limo ride in his life, I thought.
First limo or not, Sting was already laying the
groundwork for star status. Here was a guy who had never sold a record
in the New World, but he was so confident in his own caché
that he was waiting to make his "appearance." He would tell me later
that he wanted to listen to the first part of the interview to
determine whether or not he wanted to bless us – and the listeners –
with his presence.
He might still be in that white stretch had I not
dragged the remote mic on its terribly long cord through the offices,
out the back door, then walked up to the limo door and begun talking
live, on-air, to a tinted window.
The front window was quickly lowered and the record
guy assured me that Sting would appear in the studios after the next
Indeed he did. He graciously took calls, was very
cordial, and quick to encourage me to replay Roxanne "once or twice
more." I did.
Nowadays I often reflect on how I made Sting what he
is today. For that, you’d think he’d at least call from time to time.
Bassist Andy Sumner showed his appreciation by
prominently displaying a KSJO button on the band’s second album cover.
Stewart Copeland? I dunno. Perhaps he has nightmares over that poor,
Oh… Mother Deal never got the raise.