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Henry Padovani : biography

13 October 1952 -

Henri Padovani (born 13 October 1952, Bastia, Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Haute-Corse), commonly known as Henry Padovani, is a musician from the Mediterranean French isle of Corsica, noted for being the original guitarist for The Police. He was a member of the group from January 1977 to August 1977 and was replaced by Andy Summers, who had initially been added to the group as a second guitarist.Sutcliffe, Phil (1993). "The Hard Line". In Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (pp.28-29) [Boxed set booklet]. A&M Records Ltd.

Biography

Early life and punk years

Padovani grew up between Algeria and Corsica from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco. While studying Economics at Aix-en-Provence, he began listening to Jimi Hendrix and was inspired to form his own band, Lupus, made up of various school friends. He moved to London in December 1976, where a friend took him to one of Curved Air's last gigs. Though unimpressed by the performance, afterward he ended up talking with drummer Stewart Copeland, who showed him some songs he'd been writing and introduced him to the rising punk scene. After a show at the Roxy Club, Padovani decided he wanted to join a punk band and shaved off his waist-length hair and beard. He then auditioned for the band London and was offered the job.Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6.

However, when he told Stewart Copeland of his success, Copeland petitioned him to join his own band, The Police. Copeland was already under the impression that he had convinced Sting to join, but despite heavy use of word-of-mouth and advertisements in musical publications, Padovani was the only guitarist he could find who was interested in punk and had actual playing ability. Copeland later recalled of Henry Padovani:

He couldn't speak much English but he'd picked up some musicians' slang and he used to say 'Where can I put my homp(amplifier)? or 'where do I put my rope (lead)?'. He knew a few chords and he was really enthusiastic and when he'd had his hair cut and stuff he really looked the part. I mean, he could play guitar better than I could and I could play guitar better than Joe Strummer... well, in those days. So I reckoned he'd be OK but I didn't figure Sting would see it that way...

With Padovani on guitar, The Police recorded their first single, "Fall Out" b/w "Nothing Achieving" in 1977. However Sting was dissatisfied with Padovani's technical abilities, paving the way for Andy Summers, whom they met after a brief tour as part of Mike Howlett's band Strontium 90. For a brief period between July and August 1977, The Police performed as a four piece with Padovani and Summers sharing guitar duties. Having insisted from the start that he wanted to be the sole guitarist for the band, Summers was unhappy with the situation. Padovani himself felt that the disparity in technical ability between the two of them made this an awkward lineup. The night after an aborted studio session with producer John Cale, Sting was elected to make the call and tell Padovani that he was out of the band.Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0.

Being cast out of the Police did not slow Padovani's musical career, however. After taking a two month vacation in Corsica, he returned to London and was immediately handed the rhythm guitar spot with Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, who at the time were far better known than the Police. The band's first album with Padovani, Storm the Gates of Heaven, was also his debut as a songwriter. Besides a pair of group compositions, he wrote the music for the song "Cry of Angels". After one more album, Things Your Mother Never Told You, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs split in two. Padovani remained with bassist Val Haller and drummer J.J. Johnson, and the trio recorded a final single, "So Many Ways", as simply The Electric Chairs, before management problems forced them to disband completely. During this period, Padovani and Haller took turns on lead vocals.

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Living octopus

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