Their innovative rock/reggae fusion, superb songwriting, and crossover appeal made the Police the closest thing to the Beatles that the 1980s coughed up. Emerging amidst the punk/new wave explosion, the trio rode to international stardom on a string of hit singles, and when they reached the top, they called it a day. Charismatic frontman Sting (aka Gordon Sumner) remains a pop icon whose appeal shows no sign of waning; members Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers also went on to successful, though less high-profile, solo careers.
Stewart Copeland was part of a band called Curved Air before he put together The Police with Sting (born Gordon Sumner) in 1977.
Nominally, the Police were punk rock, but that's only in the loosest sense of the term. The trio's nervous, reggae-injected pop/rock was punky, but it wasn't necessarily punk. All three members were considerably more technically proficient than the average punk or new wave band. Andy Summers had a precise guitar attack that created dense, interlocking waves of sounds and effects. Stewart Copeland could play polyrhythms effortlessly. And Sting, with his high, keening voice, was capable of constructing infectiously catchy pop songs. While they weren't punk, the Police certainly demonstrated that the punk spirit could have a future in pop music.
As their career progressed, the Police grew considerably more adventurous, experimenting with jazz and various world musics. All the while, the band's tight delivery and mastery of the pop single kept their audience increasing, and by 1983, they were the most popular rock & roll band in the world. Though they were at the height of their fame, internal tensions caused the band to splinter apart in 1984, with Sting picking up the majority of the band's audience to become an international superstar.
The Police did not break up officially. After the Synchronicity tour ended in early 1984, there was rumor of a live album and then perhaps an album of covers (specifically 50's tunes). Neither of these surfaced as Sting insisted on pursuing his acting and solo careers.
The Police reformed in the summer of 1986 for several shows on Amnesty International's Conspiracy of Hope Tour. Following that they immediately went into the studio to work on a new album. Apparently, no one had any new "Police" material written, so the album turned into a greatest hits. Sting wanted to re-record all the hits. His idea was that the three of them were better musicians now and that the songs should reflect that. Andy and Stewart however, felt that the originals were best left alone.