Roxanne is a song by The Police which is about a man who falls in love with a prostitute. Sting got the idea for this after walking through the red-light district of Paris. He imagined what it would be like to fall in love with one of the prostitutes.
This was the first major-label release by The Police. A year earlier, they released the single "Fall Out" on an independent label owned by Stewart Copeland's brother.
When it was first released, this didn't chart. It was re-released and charted in early 1979 after The Police gained some popularity.
In the movie 48 Hours, Eddie Murphy sings a very off-key version of the song in a jail cell.
Sting still performs this at his concerts. He still likes it, and knows the fans will be upset if he doesn't play it.
The band was surprised that their manager, Miles Copeland, liked this and had it released as a single. They thought he would hate it because it was not typical of The Police.
Sting chose the name Roxanne because it has a rich history behind it. Roxanne was the name of Alexander The Great's wife and Cyrano DeBergerac's girlfriend.
In 1987, Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah starred in the movie Roxanne, which is based on the Cyrano DeBergerac story of a poet with a big nose who falls for a beautiful woman.
Sting considers the beat more of a Tango than Reggae.
The laughing at the beginning is Sting. It was recorded when he tripped in the recording studio and fell over the piano.
Sting performed this at Live Aid in 1985.
A remake of this song was featured in the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge. Christian (Ewan McGregor) sings this about Satine (Nicole Kidman) when he becomes enraged in a fit of jealously. And guess what? They made it into a tango so this song can no longer be mistaken for a reggae beat... Sting must be very proud. (thanks, Kristy - La Porte City, IA)
The Police performed this when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003. With the exception of a drunken jam at Sting's wedding in 1992, it was the first time they played together since they broke up in 1986 over personal differences. At the ceremony, guitarist Andy Summers joked, "I'd like to make it very clear that there is no ego in our band whatsoever."
This song is the basis for a popular drinking game of the same title: men drink when it says "Roxanne," women drink when it says "Red Light." (thanks, Alex - Charleston, WV)
When The Police reunited in 2007, their first public performance came at the Grammy Awards, where they played this to open the show.