Andy Summers of The Police Calls Puff Daddy's 'I'll Be Missing You' a 'Major Rip-Off'

Andy Summers slammed the rap mogul in a new interview, calling his use of a sampled Summers guitar riff "the major rip-off of all time."

Ultimate Guitar

Rapper Puff Daddy may be prone to "borrowing" from classic rock songs in his work, but that doesn't mean everybody likes it. Police guitarist Andy Summers slammed the rap mogul in a new interview (via UltimateClassicRock), calling his use of a sampled Summers guitar riff the major rip-off of all time.

The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy, who has since gone on to change his name to P. Diddy, then to simply Diddy, released the enormously popular single "I'll Be Missing You" in 1997 as a tribute to his dead friend, famed East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. The main riff of the song is a direct sample of Summers' guitar performance on the Police track "Every Breath You Take."

Sting as the song's author had to give his permission and received payment for its use, Summers however did not, despite the fact that it's actually his playing that was sampled.

Needless to say, the guitarist was less than thrilled when he first heard the song. I found out about it after it was on the radio, Summers tells the A.V. Club. It was actually my kid, who was 10 at the time, said, Hey dad, there's some girl on the radio who's playing you guys!' I went into his room and listened to his radio, and I was like, This is me, what the f is this?'

The track also borrowed the melody from the hymn "I'Ll Fly Away," but incredibly, "I'll Be Missing You" went on to win a Grammy. Summers says the popularity of the track made it even harder for him to swallow his inadvertent participation.

He actually sampled my guitar, and that's what he based his whole track on, he notes. Stewart's not on it. Sting's not on it. I'd be walking round Tower Records, and the fing thing would be playing over and over. It was very bizarre while it lasted.

Of course, Police aren't the only classic rockers whose music Diddy has sampled. He also collaborated with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page on a track titled "Come With Me," which used the music from Zeppelin's "Kashmir". However, Chuck D of Public Enemy (who themselves have famously sampled Slayer's "Angel Of Death" in their 1988 track "She Watch Channel Zero?!") has recently criticized that track, calling it a fing travesty.

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52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Actually in this story Sting comes out as the real jerk
    Sting as the songs author had to give his permission and received payment for its use, Summers however did not, despite the fact that its actually his playing that was sampled.
    Yeah like surely Sting would give some of the royalties to Summers, it's not like he's hard up for cash.
    I may be wrong here (it's been awhile since I took Music Law), but isn't whoever owns the publishing the one(s) you need to license the song/sample from? The owner of the publishing is not always the songwriter.
    Am I the only one who thought of the Tourettes Guy while reading this? "This better be the Puff Daddy version of this song, not that Sting piece of shit!" For real though...that blows major. Andy has tons of amazing riffs and the fact that someone took his most famous one and he didn't even see a penny for it or get consulted with about it...
    Fair enough. I'd be pissed off too. But i guess legally there's nothing he can do about it. Must be hard to swallow.
    Wait until he hears that new Bruno Mars song
    There's no sampling done in 'Locked Out of Heaven', none that I could find anyway. It does sound influenced by the Police, but I wouldn't call it a ripoff by any means.
    That's true. I realized right after I posted that I made it sound like he sampled. That wasn't what I was implying sorry if it came off that way
    A more important question is why does Sting own 100% of the song rights?
    Good question... Andy came up with the guitar riff, but Sting is officially credited with writing the whole song. Doesn't seem very juste to me.
    Sampling any music is a ****ing travesty. This is exactly why hip hop pisses me off. If a rock song had "sampling" in it, there would be suits over ripping the artist of-...wait. That's exactly the same thing.
    I've always been the bigger fan of original recordings and compositions, but it's still interesting to see what people can do with samples. Something like Justice's debut album has around 400 samples so small you can't recognize their sources. What bothers me a lot here is that there was no share given to Summers for his part. I'm also quite surprised Sting pretty much took his share and left it at that.
    I totally agree, Kueller. In fact, when I take over he world, I'm now going to have Puff Daddy shot and make Sting pay all the royalties he received for that song to Andy Summers, then also ban hip-hop for a while.
    Sampling has its place, and can be done with taste and skill. Just listen to Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. An album made entirely of samples, yet when it came out, it still sounded utterly unique and unlike anything else out there. It's like with any other facet of music: it can be done well, or it can be done poorly.
    Millions of bands all around the world use sampling. Slayer used sampling, Metallica used sampling, the Beatles used sampling, led Zeppelin used sampling and many others do as well. the only difference is that one genre has millions of close-minded luddites defending them, while the other has millions of people with short attention spans who defend them for a few minutes and then search for something else. Don't be close-minded against all hip-hop/rap artists simply because you prefer rock/metal music. there's just as much good rap as there are crappy rock/metal bands out there. You just have to look.
    Well puffy diddly daddy, or whatever the F he wants to call himself now isn't REALLY a musician. He has been one of THE biggest musical rip-off acts that I can remember. He does however seem to have good taste in who he rips-ff however. I despise this idiot an all he stands for. Let's see who will inspire him next (aka: make a deal to take their actual music and crappify it into something of his own.)
    Almost every single artist in popular/classical/blues/whatever music rips off other artists to some degree, whether it is note-for-note using an already established riff/melody/drum beat/etc. in your own song, or writing something very very closely resembling it. I do agree though that some genres basically just take a section of another song and use it in theirs, in a copy-paste manner. Mostly electronic music, but such is the nature of a lot of electronic music, even though I love it.
    It depends what you mean by sampling. If you mean the Flo Rida approach of "let's take the chorus of a song that already exists, I'll rap for the verses and it'll sell millions", then yes it's awful. But proper sampling has been around for decades and usually produces a piece of music completely different to the original. Eric Carmen's All By Myself, one of the most famous songs of all time, is a reworking of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. Not a sample but it may as well be.
    Sounds a bit douchy from Sting, not asking for Andy's permission considering it was his part being sampled. Besides, sampled tracks can't really be considered real music - if anything a musical compilation or remix as a separate form of art - but never real music to be used for commercial purposes. That is nothing but a rip-off and a sign of lacking creativity.
    If sampling didn't exist, The Avalanches or Gorillaz wouldn't exist either, and they are miles more creative than most contemporary artists. Remember not all sampling's bad or redundant. It's what you do with it.
    I hate sampling, it just shows a lack of creativity. I'm looking at you, Kid Rock.
    Kid Rock has used sampling for more popular songs you may recognize, but the majority of his material is not sampled.
    So you're saying that Kid Rock hasn't made any song's of popular notoriety (hit's) without sampling (copying) other artist's music? Shame, his talent is so vast and his creativity is immaculate like the baby jesus' conception. GTFO! Kid Rock Sucks Penis! For crack rock at that.
    No that's not what I said. Read the comment again maybe? I said he has used sampling in some of the songs you may have heard (hits), but not in all his hits, and not in the majority of his catalog. Say what you want but I at least respect him. If you don't like his music I get it, it's an acquired taste, but he's a pretty decent dude that worked hard to get where he is and genuinely gives a shit about his fans and music in general.
    I love Summers' playing. The voicings he uses really stand out. Actually all of the police rocked. They're like a alternative-pop Rush. I understand hiphop used to sample because they were kids DIY'ing things to make music, none of them had any money or label deals. They needed something to rap over at a party so they looped an album. It caught on then once they were signed they kept doing it, then others started and so on. But when your a multizillion dollar recording artist with your own your own megalabel, at least hire a guitarist to come up with something original. Hell at that level, get Nile Rodgers or some other great runk/r&b guitarist in there and have him write something that fits the song instead of forcing the song to fit the sample. And they wonder why people laugh when they say "yeah im a musician, im a dj".
    "And they wonder why people laugh when they say "yeah im a musician, im a dj". " Because you can't create something new out of samples, right? Just because Puff Daddy is a jackass that can't actually work with them properly to create something good with them doesn't mean it's impossible. There's a lot of hip hop that uses a metric ****ton of them but I'd like to see you point out which ones belong to what song. Basically: there is a difference between recomposing sounds/properly sampling and being a jackass.
    Beastie Boys did it... Hell just listen to Pauls Boutique... It is how it is used.
    Summers anger should definately point to Sting, not Diddy. Diddy liked the music and got permission to use the sample. If Sting wrote the riff you can't really be to pissed though. Maybee just the fact that he did not consult Summers who he had perform it. Summers should get some royalties though considering it is him playing regardless if Sting has full writing credits to music.
    omg i thought it would sound a little bit like the original but it sounds excatly the same!! OMG ima b a rapper !
    So let me get this straight...Sting wrote the music and gave his permission, which means that this guitarist probably did not write it (else he would have received writing credits, no?), so what is the issue? Sting ultimately has credit for the music, which means that no matter who played the riff, Sting would still be the one getting credit, right? If that is not the case, which could also be very probable, I don't see how it is P. Diddy's fault or problem. Sounds to me like this guy is bitter over the fact that he didn't get writing credit for the original, and thus lost out on royalties from P. Diddy's version. If I were him, I'd be pissed off at Sting and The Police's label at the time, not P. Diddy.
    Well, Sting wrote the basic chord progression, but the actual arpeggiated guitar lines were written and played by Summers. So yeah, if I was him, I'd be pissed, especially when it's HIS part.
    RIP biggie. I thought summers would be more cool about it. it is a tribute to his dead friend.....
    biggie meant more to the world than this shmuck clearly realizes. I dont care if he did play the original riff. Too bad. Turned your stalker song to an Epic Memorial for one of the greatest rappers of all time.
    The man's issue should be with Sting anyway. Sting is the one with the rights to the song who GAVE PERMISSION to use the sample. People are also making too big a deal out of this and using it to spout ignorant statements about hip hop. Because it's cool to only like music with electric guitars or something like that.
    when you have no talent and you want to make a lot of money of course you have to steal from someone who's got talent. in music it means that is how you become a rap star.
    regardless of who played what part I thought the person who wrote the part is the one who gets the royalties. Otherwise studio musicians would be coming out of the wood work
    Covering a song is great. There are many prime examples. You are paying homage to a song you like by recreating it in your own way. Sampling is a cheap way to make money...not to make music. While I won't deny that a lot of these sampled songs are catchy, I will clarify that the reason they are catchy is because of the song they are sampling. See Eminem's Sing for the Moment. I found myself singing along with Steven Tyler and then said..."hey, wait a minute, why don't I just listen to Dream On???" That's what I don't like. It's an awful formula out there...let me find a catchy hook that already exists and substitute the verses for my own sh**ty rap. It's crap.
    Because sampling can't be paying homage to something, right? Also you're generalizing when it comes to the use of samples. You can take those established sounds and create something new out of them. Just because there are people that take a catchy hook and use it as their own doesn't mean that's 100% of them. There are plenty of rap songs where you would never be able to point out which samples belong to what song. Because all of the sounds are composed into something different.
    Nero Galon
    I understand where Andy is coming from, I really do. Perhaps I am kinda biased though even though I really like the Police but Puff Daddy's song gives me nostalgia :/
    There isn't an original riff on the planet anymore, The Beatles did IT ALL. besides, If you listen to any given song by The Police you can clearly hear the similarities to Bob Marley, whom Sting, Summers, and Copeland idolized. What the issue here is that Diddy sampled (in contrast to covering) ONLY Summers material for almost the duration of the "song". This is a shameful practice, any trained monkey can hit a button and talk about a lost loved one, this is NOT talent. Summers' riff made the song, nothing was said in the content of the lyrics that made an impression or carried the tune to a "new song". Hip Hop hates you and it doesn't care who it steps on to glorify itself.