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8 Interesting Facts You Never Knew About “Roxanne” By The Police

Roxanne
Concert de "The Police" au Madison Square Garden - New York le 1er Aout 2007

Formed in 1977 in London, United Kingdom, The Police were an English rock band with a star-studded lineup that included Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Sting.

With a long list of popular singles, the band’s most popular tracks included the likes of “Every Breath You Take”, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”.

However, the band’s signature song is probably “Roxanne”. One of the most enduring songs to come from the seventies, and arguably iconic, “Roxanne” made The Police the band they went on to be. 

But did you know that there’s more to the song than meets the eye? If not, you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’re going to share with you 8 interesting facts about this song that you probably never knew.

There’s a lot of history to unearth behind this song so let’s get started!

Embed from Getty Images

1. The Intro Contains One of Life’s Happy Accidents

If you’re a fan of The Police you’ll know just what we’re talking about when we mention the first fact on our list.

At the start of “Roxanne”, we can hear the noise from a piano and Sting laughing. This was a complete accident but one that works well.

Sting was at the band’s studio waiting to record his vocals when he lent on the piano unaware that it was open.

A microphone accidentally picked up Sting laughing and the piano making a noise. The group loved the sound so they decided to leave it in.

2. The Hit Was Actually Inspired By French Prostitutes

It is widely known that “Roxanne” is about a man falling in love with a prostitute, but what many people don’t realize is that the inspiration for the song came from real French prostitutes.

During one of their tours, The Police found themselves performing in Paris. One night, Sting was strolling through the city’s red light district when he came face to face with a group of prostitutes. 

This encounter left an impression on Sting, making him wonder about the mentality of someone who’d fall in love with a lady of the night. From there, “Roxanne” was born.

3. There’s History Behind The Name “Roxanne”

The name Roxanne isn’t a name the band just thought of and decided to use because it sounded right, even though it does. Roxanne is actually a name with a great history behind it. 

Sting found that Roxanne was the name of the fictional girlfriend of Cyrano de Bergerac in the play by Edmond Rostand and also Alexander The Great’s wife. The band agreed that the history behind the name made it perfect for their new tune.

4. “Roxanne” Secured The Police A Record Deal

roxanne

It is believed that “Roxanne” helped secure The Police a record deal. When Stuart Copeland’s older brother Miles first heard the band he was unimpressed with what he saw and heard.

However, all of that changed when he heard the band perform the now infamous track at the end of a recording session. On the back of that, Miles was quick to secure the band a lucrative record deal with A&M Records.

The band’s first album was released in 1978 with “Roxanne”. It went on to reach number 6 on the British charts.

5. The Song Wasn’t Actually Banned By The BBC

For many years, The Police told the world that the BBC had banned their song “Roxanne”. This was thought to be the reason for the song’s failure to hit the charts when it was initially released.

The band said that the song wasn’t added to the BBC’s coveted playlist because of its depiction of prostitution, which at the time was controversial. The song was even promoted by A&M Records as being banned.

However, many years later, Stuart Copeland admitted that the band made it up. He also said:

The band got a lot of mileage out of it being supposedly banned by the BBC.

6. The Police Reunited To Open The Grammy Awards With “Roxanne”

The Police reunited in 2007 to open the 49th Grammy Awards with “Roxanne”. This was a significant moment for the band as it kickstarted a huge reunion tour which saw the band travel all over the world.

The tour became the third highest-grossing tour of all time, bringing in revenues that reached more than $360 million.

7. The Song Wasn’t A Big Hit In The United States

Despite its continued success and popularity over the years, “Roxanne” never achieved chart success in the United States. The song was released in America in February 1979. 

However, it only started to become popular when a DJ in Texas started putting it on the radio. The reaction of listeners was enough to make other stations play it too. Eventually, “Roxanne” had a big enough backing to make an impact on the charts.

The song would eventually peak at #32 in the charts in April 1979.

8. Eddie Murphy Gave “Roxanne” A Big Culture Boost

In what remains arguably the most entertaining character introduction in movie history, Eddie Murphy’s character Reggie Hammond first appeared in the film 48 Hours singing the famous Police song.

This was a culture boost for the famous track by The Police.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, 8 interesting facts about “Roxanne” by The Police. As you can see from our list, there are plenty of interesting facts about this iconic song.

If it wasn’t for the song “Roxanne” it could be said that The Police wouldn’t have become the band they went on to be.

One thing is for sure though, this song will continue to be a big hit for generations to come. For now, we can only hope we get to see The Police perform “Roxanne” again one day!

To get the origin story from the horse’s mouth, check out this interview between Sting and Howard Stern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Roxanne About?

Roxanne is a song about a man who falls in love with a prostitute. During the course of the song, he tries to convince her that she doesn’t need to live that life anymore.

When Was Roxanne Released?

The song was release on the band’s debut album in April 1978. It was released in America in February of the following year.

Where Did Roxanne Peak On The Charts?

It peaked at No. 12 on the UK charts, and No. 32 on the US charts.
The song ranked No. 388 on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Who Are The Members Of The Police?

Sting – vocals and bass guitar
Andy Summers – guitar
Stewart Copeland – drums
Henry Padovani – guitar

Roxanne Lyrics

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Ro

I loved you since I knew you
I wouldn’t talk down to you
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy

I know my mind is made up
So put away your make up
Told you once I won’t tell you again
It’s a bad way

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne (You don’t have to put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)