The 1998 two-volume Hot Licks guitar instruction VHS video starring the Police guitarist is finally on DVD, and it’s worth getting if you’re an Andy Summers fan and/or an aspiring or amateur guitar player.
The two-hour-and-thirty-four-minute program features Summers demonstrating his guitar technique from his years with The Police, as well as from his solo career, interspersed with live studio performances with his band at the time. The result is a good overview of rock and jazz guitar, delivered with Summers’ whacked-out sense of humor, plus a great audio-visual document of Summers displaying his masterful chops as an instructor and a composer-performer.
Summers was the guitarist for the mega-popular rock band The Police, who were active in the late 1970s and early 1980s and reunited for a 30th anniversary tour in 2007 and 2008. Being a good decade older than his bandmates Sting and Stewart Copeland, Summers began his professional recording career in the early 1960s, playing for Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band (which later became the psychedelic but short-lived Dantalian’s Chariot), Eric Burdon’s New Animals, and Soft Machine. After formally studying guitar at Northridge University in California from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, Summers returned to England and plied his trade as a session guitarist for Joan Armatrading, Neil Sedaka, Kevin Coyne, and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord before achieving monumental success and international stardom with The Police.
After the dissolution of The Police in the early 1980s, Summers scored some Hollywood films (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Weekend at Bernie’s) and recorded one rock vocal album before establishing himself as an acclaimed and accomplished contemporary instrumental guitarist across a variety of styles, including jazz, fusion, New Age, and world music.
One of Summers' upcoming projects is Spirit Garden, a collection of guitar duets featuring Summers and classical guitarist Andrew York. In addition to acoustic and electric guitars, Summers and York also play other instruments. The duo’s collaboration began on the title track of York’s latest album, Centerpeace, which is available now. More information on Centerpeace and Spirit Garden can be found at www.andrewyork.net.
For a good overview of Summers’ solo work, I highly recommend the following albums: Mysterious Barricades, A Windham Hill Retrospective, Synaesthesia, and The X Tracks. My personal favorite Summers albums are Mysterious Barricades, The Golden Wire, Charming Snakes, World Gone Strange, Synaesthesia, Earth and Sky, and First You Build a Cloud.