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When Lata Mangeshkar floored Andy Summers!
October 06, 2008 11:06 IST

Okay, so we're late on this one. Actually, very late, but it seemed too juicy a morsel to let go.

In his memoir One Train Later, Andy Summers, the guitarist for the legendary rock band The Police, recounts how he was mesmerised by Piya Tose Naina Lage Naa, sung by Lata Mangeshkar [Images] in the 1965 classic movie, Guide.

Summers, who published his brilliantly written -- it is entirely in the present tense, and filled with wit, humour, and admirable grasp of the nuances of storytelling -- memoir two years ago, describes how he heard the song at the end of the sixties on acid (lysergic acid diethylamide), and almost on loop.

He describes Lata's voice as 'incomparable', and notes that he was so enamoured with the song -- composed by the maestro Sachin Dev Burman -- that he recorded it with British Asian singer Najma Akhtar later in his career.

That might surprise those of you familiar with Summers's trademark sparse guitar style that gave The Police their punk-meets-reggae-meets-jazz sound and propelled them to becoming one of the most successful rock bands in history.

But truth is, Summers's musical roots run way deeper, and he is a noted eclectic artist in his own right, just like his wee bit more famous band-mate, Sting [Images].

And while we are on The Police's India connection, Summers describes his first gig in Mumbai (then Bombay) with hilarious detail. Apparently, the group, which hit the big time in 1979, embarked on their first world tour without set gigs. In Bombay, their manager contacted a Parsi ladies' club, and they agreed to host The Police at Rang Bhavan.

Summers says one of the organisers, an old Parsi lady, had to be hospitalised during the show; not because of the volume, but because the front-row organisers suffered in the fans' stampede towards the stage. Typically British, The Police sent her a get well message and flowers.

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