On this day in music history: July 9, 1983 – “Every Breath You Take” by The Police hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks. Written by Sting, it is the biggest hit for the Anglo American rock band fronted by bassist and lead vocalist Sting (born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner). Sting writes the song after going through a bitter divorce with his first wife, actress Frances Tomelty. Often misconstrued as a tender love song, the songs ambiguous lyrics hide a much darker subtext. It is about being obsessed with a former lover, being consumed with jealousy, wanting to possess and control them. Sessions for the song are tense when Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland clash over Sting’s perfectionism regarding the drum and percussion parts. The two actually have a physical fight over the matter, causing engineer/co-producer Hugh Padgham to nearly walk off of the project. They eventually settle their differences and complete the track. Released on May 20, 1983, “Every Breath You Take” is the first single from the bands fifth album “Synchronicity”. An immediate hit, it is deemed “an instant classic” by fans and critics alike. Entering the Hot 100 at #36 on June 4, 1983, it races to the top of the chart five weeks later. The song is also supported by a memorable and visually striking black & video music video directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. “Every Breath You Take” wins two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Song Of The Year in 1984. The original single release is backed with the track “Murder By Numbers, which is included as a bonus track on the CD and cassette versions of "Synchronicity”. After the huge success of “Every Breath You Take” and the split of The Police in 1984, Sting writes “If Love Somebody Set Them Free” (#3 Pop) as a response and an “antidote” to the previous song. It appears on his first solo album “The Dream Of The Blue Turtles” in 1985. He also mockingly quotes the chorus from “Every Breath You Take” at the end of “Love Is The Seventh Wave”, singing “every breath you take, every move you make.. every cake you bake, every leg you break…”. “Every Breath You Take” is sampled as the basis of the tribute record I’ll Be Missing You" by Puffy Daddy, Faith Evans and 112 in 1997. When Diddy and company perform the song on the MTV VMA Awards in September of 1997, Sting appears on stage with the group, singing part of the songs’ original lyric. “Every Breath” also featured in the season three opener to “The Sopranos’ episode titled "Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood”, when it is brilliantly mashed up with Henry Mancini’s equally iconic “Peter Gunn Theme”. The music is used to underscore a sequence where the FBI are planting a bug in The Sopranos home, while the family are out. “Every Breath You Take” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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