With the coolest theme on American TV, The Equalizer introduced Copeland’s stunningly unique sound to the mainstream audience. In keeping with the series’ mash-up concept of “tradition merged with New Age high tech,” Copeland’s musical accompaniment would, one: with the exception of hero Robert McCall himself, forego the Wagnerian structure of identifiable leitmotifs, and instead choose to score the city of New York itself as a primary character; and, two: fuse classical structure with the combo of “percussion carrying melody and synthesized strings” attached to world rhythms. Copeland’s would be a coldly ethereal yet dense “urban ballet” sound inexorably linked to the modern cityscape. This sound would influence composers such as Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman.
They shot several episodes in my old neighborhood, the East Village, at great risk to star Woodward (two heart attacks and once he fell through an apartment building roof–not ours thankfully). That’s 610 East 9th Street, where we lived 1981-86. Rent for our 4-room inc full kitchen and full bathroom, 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, facing street: $250/m. You read that right. $250 a month.
Copeland was born in 1952. The son of CIA officer Miles Copeland, Jr (who appears as a character in Norman Mailer’s epic spy novel Harlot’s Ghost), he took up the drums at 12, was raised internationally in Cairo, Beirut, the US and England; and throughout the 1970s alternately worked as road manager and backup drummer for various groups until founding in 1977, along with Sting and Henry Padovani (later replaced by Andy Summers), the English progressive rock band The Police. After The Police went on extended hiatus in 1986, the drummer with a composer’s sensibilities dove headlong into scoring—to this day, one of his most notable works is as musical voice of The Equalizer, on which he composed 51 of 88 total episodes of the series.
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