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One Train Later: A Memoir Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Summers—a musician best known for playing guitar in the seminal 1980s band the Police—recounts the details of his time in the spotlight and his circuitous and fantastic journey toward fame in a memoir that is just as generous (and sometimes meticulous) in providing details as it is in exploring the human toll of living out the "collective fantasy" of being a "rock god." There are many great rock moments that dazzle—hanging with Clapton, jamming with Hendrix, hallucinating with John Belushi—but the less extraordinary memories make for a more compelling narrative: he recalls his childhood in England, where, after an "immediate bond" with the guitar, "the spiritual side of life slowly fills with music." Narrated in the present tense and with occasionally vivid language (Summers recounts "the familiar backstage" as "the taste of Jack stuck on a Wheat Thin"), every rock cliché is described (drugs, sex, ego), but, refreshingly, little is romanticized. This is a stage-side account of the birth, rise and dissipation of the Police—and fans of the band will not be disappointed—but it is also an honest travelogue of a British kid who, subsisting "on a diet of music and hope," traversed the most coveted landscapes of pop culture and lived to write about it. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The guitarist of the Police begins his entertaining, highly readable memoir of superstardom near the end, on August 18, 1983, at Shea Stadium, when the band became the first to play there since the Beatles. It was one of the band's last concerts. Thereafter, Summers discusses, quite eloquently, the Faustian pact fame seemingly involves, which in his case entailed divorce and estrangement from his daughter. He also spends a good portion of the book on his earlier life: his English seaside childhood in Bournemouth, his parents' difficult marriage (he and his younger brother were placed in an orphanage for six months), the first inklings of musical talent. He reports years of struggle, later moderate success in nationally known bands, and stints in the internationally known Soft Machine and the Animals before the Police. By his lights, life on the road with the Police was one hotel room in a strange city after another. A candid appraisal of the cost of celebrity. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312359144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312359140
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Meigs on October 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing "life story" told with heaping amounts of humor and insight -- easily accessible to both the hardcore Police fan, and the reader simply interested in gaining perspective on the churnings of the music business amidst a more spiritual pursuit. Andy uses his fantastic sense of humor to great effect here. I was constantly giggling at the absolute mayhem surrounding him at every turn. I had no idea he was such a roving wild man -- but from the man who wrote the classic "Behind My Camel" -- who would expect otherwise. I admire someone who enjoys Spinal Tap and Camus.

I'm baffled at his ability to stay sane amidst this carnival of motion. If you are even remotely interested in the sacrifice, hard work, and drive that it takes to "make it" in the music industry, this is required reading. Make plans, but do it in pencil. In the end, you follow the music. This book is a spiritual adventure. I'm looking forward to the next one!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could NOT have enjoyed this book more!

Andy Summers proves to be a terrific writer. The book follows his life from childhood to the break-up of the Police.

I found myself laughing out loud often while reading this memoir. He's genuinely funny; describing a boxing match in which he was forced to participate in grade school, he comments that his loutish opponent burst from his corner towards him like "a dog with his tail on fire."

During a sojourn through Spain while still a teenager, he recounts a dinner where he and a friend are guests of a kind Spanish family, with two beautiful daughters there to tempt them. At the table, he says the mother enjoyed torturing them (by sitting them across from the two goddesses but preventing any sort of contact) "like a witch cooking two shrimps in her cauldron."

He's self-deprecating, witty and vivid with his descriptions of life in England, life on the road, observations on human behavior.

He's merciless in commenting on his own shortcomings, especially with his wife and with drug use. There are passages that are acutely painful, like how he let his family down while seduced by the life of a rock star.

On the other hand, I will never forget his description of what it is like to urinate while on LSD. I laughed so hard I had to put the book down.

I was continually surprised to see how he floated through popular culture, Zelig-like, for decades. The tale of the 1959 Les Paul Sunburst, Eric Clapton and the first Cream album will have you slack-jawed. Not only are there several episodes involving Clapton (and how he fits into rock history as a central figure), but Summers encounters people like Hendrix, places like NYC and LA, the psychedelic era, prog-rock...
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on October 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was in junior high, The Police was one of the biggest bands in the world and I was a huge fan. I had grown up listening mainly to sixties music like the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. The Police was the first band I came to on my own and from my own era. No music group before or since has meant as much to me.

On the other hand, my brand of fandom mainly centered around playing my LPs over and over and over. I didn't care much about the personalities. Other than a few magazine interviews, I never knew much about the three musicians in the band and I don't read much in the way of exposes or biography. I will, however, read the occasional autobiography and when I saw this one by Andy Summers, I couldn't resist.

There was so much I didn't know about Andy that every page seemed a revelation and I was fascinated. I gained a lot of respect for this musician who went through the rigors of learning the guitar and held to his own musical tastes through the ups and downs of the business of music. I was also surprised to learn of Andy's close connections to so many other musical greats even before he was world famous himself--he gave Clapton one of his best guitars, he jammed with Hendrix, he played with the Animals. Wow.

Less interesting to me was the continual stories of drugs and drunkenness. I suppose it's part of his life and part of the rock `n' roll legend, but I quickly grew weary of the inebriated craziness and trippy observations. I, for one, actually am disappointed when I find out a musician has played a concert drunk and/or stoned, no matter how well he might feel he pulled it off. Of course, it wouldn't surprise me to be in the minority here.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lee McIlmoyle on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
First, I should say that I really quite enjoyed this book. At no time did I feel that I was being talked down to. Andy uses plain English to share the quite moving story of his early development as a musician, traversing the 60's, 70's and 80's, and seeing more of the world in that time than most of us will ever see. He shares annecdotes of his experiences with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, John Belushi and a couple of guys names Gordon and Stewart, whom he still has a lot of good things to say about. All in all, an honest telling of a life of music, love, loss and redemption, and the assertion that music and love hold it all together.

Perhaps I'm a bit sentimental, but in light of the fact that The Police are reuniting this year, this book, along with Stewart's movie and perhaps Sting's own memoir of a few years ago, couldn't have come at a better time.
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