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'Roxanne' by The Police: Song of the Day for April 7

Credit the prostitutes of Paris with helping the Police, the band, not the men in blue, become famous.

Sting said he got the idea for their breakthrough song “Roxanne” while watching prostitutes hang out at the not-so-first-class hotel where the struggling band was staying. The Song of the Day single was released in Great Britain on April 7, 1978.

Sting said it was the first time he had ever witnessed such a scene and was surprised at how pretty some of the girls were. The song was his fantasy about falling in love with one of them.

The name Roxanne comes from a character in the play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The play’s poster hung in the lobby of their Paris hotel.

The song, “Roxanne” went unnoticed in the UK. The BBC refused to play it because of the subject matter. The song caught on when the Police played it for audiences in the United States. An Austin, Texas, radio station began playing the song and it became the group’s first hit.

“Roxanne” made it to number 12 on the English charts. It reached number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Roxanne was just the start for the Police. Singles “Message in A Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” and the album “Reggatta De Blanc” reached number one in Great Britain.

A footnote: Listen carefully to the beginning of “Roxanne” and you can hear Sting accidentally bumping into the piano and laughing. They decided to keep it in the recording.

Song of the Day is created by Sheldon Zoldan, and produced by Pam James for WGCU.