The Police Song Sting ‘Unabashedly’ Stole From Bob Marley

1978 saw the release of The Police’s debut album, ‘Outlandos d’Amour.’ At that time, the band did not have a manager, nor did they have a record deal, and they recorded this album on a very small budget. Despite struggling to enter the music industry, their album debuted at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart and number 23 on the Billboard 200.

Sting was also present at the founding years of the band and continued to perform with the Police for the following 7 years. He was the songwriter and vocalist of the band and liked to experiment with different tones and musical elements, such as jazz, reggae, new-age, and rock. It is possible to find traces of this experimentation in their debut album as well.

‘So Lonely,’ the third single of their debut album is a track where we can hear a combination of reggae and rock sounds. However, there was something particular about this song. It was relatively easy to find some similarities between the track and the reggae legend Bob Marley’s ‘No Women No Cry,’ especially in its verses and background.

Which Police Song Was Stolen From Bob Marley & The Wailers?

It is possible to hear reggae elements in the verses of ‘So Lonely,’ even though this reggae-ish mood is broken by the sharp transition of guitar and percussion to rock tunes in the chorus of the song. In an interview with Revolver in 2000, nearly 20 years after the song’s release, Sting admitted that these reggae touches were ‘unabashedly’ culled from Bob Marley & The Wailers’ ‘No Woman No Cry.’

During the conversation, Sting stated that they chose to experiment with reggae because it was popular among punk musicians at the time and was a sophisticated kind of music. In the conversation, where he admitted that ‘No Woman No Cry’ influenced their song, he said that they tried to add a novelty by experimenting with thrash punk and reggae tones in their songs.

Here is Sting’s confession about their song ‘So Lonely:’

“People thrashing out three chords didn’t really interest us musically. Reggae was accepted in punk circles and musically more sophisticated, and we could play it, so we veered off in that direction. I mean let’s be honest here, ‘So Lonely’ was unabashedly culled from ‘No Woman No Cry’ by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Same chorus. What we invented was this thing of going back and forth between thrash punk and reggae. That was the little niche we created for ourselves.”

The Police released 4 more albums after this debut record. The band went through a disbandment process after Sting’s departure in 1986, and the other members of the band continued their musical careers with solo projects for 20 years until their reunion in 2007.