That Time I Almost Killed Andy Summers

Today I read this post by Derek Powazek (via Schmutzie’s Five Star Friday).

Derek’s disappointment about his negative Twitter interaction with a “personal hero” really resonated with me, although I did find it ironic that part of the post was about his hero’s aversion to online commenting and after scrolling up and down and back again so I could comment about feeling his pain, I realized comments aren’t enabled on Derek’s blog. As a new blogger, I would love to have more comments and online discussion, but perhaps this is a case of being careful what I wish for?

So here is an expanded version of what I would have said in Derek’s comments.

My favorite band is the Police. A few months ago, Dave and I went to see the guitarist, Andy Summers, give a talk about his photography. Andy recounted a story about almost getting arrested on one of his photography trips. He was looking through a window when he felt a tap on the shoulder. It turned out to be a police officer tapping him, but Andy said his first thought was along the lines of “it’s probably a fan,” the word fan said in a tone indicating contempt, as if Andy felt like fans were a disease. When he said that, there was some laughter from the audience. Nervous laughter, the kind that involuntarily comes out when you realize that an unflattering remark resembles you.

At that moment, I was grateful I hadn’t tried to talk to him during my almost brush with greatness in 2007. I managed to snag front row seats to a Police reunion tour concert in Vancouver. Dave and I spent a week there, and in the days before the concert, I kept my eyes peeled. Maybe Sting, Stewart and Andy were already in Vancouver. Maybe we’d just bump into them. Maybe I’d win the lottery and be able to quit my job. Yeah, none of that happened.

In the days after the show, I was completely over the notion of running into members of the Police walking down the street. So when Andy Summers actually was walking down the street towards us, I did not notice. But Dave did notice and subtlety tried to point out that Andy Fucking Summers was walking towards us. I was being dense, so he ended up sort of forcibly turning my head to show me what the big deal was and I was so taken by surprise at Dave’s manhandling that I cried out in pain. Then I noticed Andy and it seemed to me he noticed us and our ruckus. As I turned around to watch him walk past, I saw him step into oncoming traffic trying to cross the street (presumably to get away from us). The person Andy was with had to pull him back so he didn’t get hit by a car.

There are probably people who are healthy enough not to assume Andy’s actions had anything to do with them and who still would have thought this encounter was a good opportunity to meet Andy Summers. I am not one of those people.

I did not get the sense Andy would have been pleasant. And I knew a negative interaction would have bothered me for a very long time. It’s possible that Andy is gracious with fans and that my instincts were wrong and that he didn’t even see me and Dave and didn’t cross against the light because of us. And a part of me will always regret how close I was to meeting him and not doing anything about it.

But just because I like someone’s work or think they are talented doesn’t mean they will be nice or want to talk to me. What if the people I admire are actually assholes? Do I really want to know that? To have to remember a negative interaction with a personal hero for the rest of my life? No, I do not.

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4 Responses to “That Time I Almost Killed Andy Summers”

  1. flurrious
    Friday, June 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I once had an encounter with Eddie Murphy that might have ended badly but I noticed his bodyguard bearing down on me so I moved along. He was filming a movie in my apartment building and on that day, the crew had made a bunch of the residents wait outside for nearly an hour; when we finally got into the lobby, Eddie was standing there pretending that none of us existed, so as we filed past, I stopped inappropriately close to him just to see if he would acknowledge my existence. He didn’t, but I can say that he has the best skin I have ever seen. The man has no pores.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, June 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

      Being blocked from my own home would make me mental. Never even considered a bodyguard…I assumed the young woman Andy was with was family or a friend, but maybe she would’ve kicked my ass if I’d approached.

  2. room34
    Friday, June 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Great story (and incidentally, it was Derek Powazek’s tweet that led me to your blog). This story reminds me of some things I’ve read about and by occasional Andy Summers collaborator Robert Fripp. Fripp is intensely personal and retiring around fans. He does not mean to be rude, but he is not comfortable with those kinds of interactions. I’m paraphrasing him here, but his general philosophy is that his relationship to his fans is through his music, and ends there.

    I’ve thought about that a lot as I’ve gotten older and grown disinterested in meeting or interacting with personal heroes, because… he’s right. Even if I did approach someone like Robert Fripp or Andy Summers, it’s unlikely I’d have anything meaningful to say to them, and knowing myself, I’d just put my foot in my mouth and have to live with the lingering embarrassment. But now I realize it’s OK, it’s BETTER, to leave our interactions where they belong: them onstage and me in the audience.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

      Scott, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree with you about not even really wanting to meet personal heroes, although part of me just feels like a wuss for this and for my Andy story. A friend of mine from high school was baffled by this story (“why would you chicken out of approaching Andy when he was only a few feet away?”). She has all kinds of cool pictures of herself with many of her favorite artists.

      Knowing myself as I do, I wouldn’t want to be accosted by tons of people I didn’t know every day everywhere I went. So I can’t blame Andy or Robert Fripp or anyone else who doesn’t really want to interact with their fans. But while I can sympathize with my famous heroes, it does seem strange that certain people can be off limits and not approachable just because so many other people are simultaneously interested in them. Fame must be weird.

      RE: Robert Fripp…since I loved the Police, I decided to get I Advanced Masked when it came out. I was only about 10 years old and I don’t think I was expecting it to sound like the Police, but I remember listening to it and thinking what the hell is this?!? But it grew on me.

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