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While some may think that playing the guitar and photography are two completely different endeavors, Andy Summers would beg to differ. After all, he has seamlessly incorporated both pastimes into his life throughout a lengthy career.

Summers might be best known as the guitarist for the Police and as a composer and solo musician, but he is also an acclaimed photographer whose work has been shown in elite galleries around the world.

Beginning his photography career as the Police were rattling off a string of No. 1 albums in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Summers published his first photography book – Throb – in 1983, capturing images of the band on the road.

Since then, Summers has never stopped marrying audio and visual experiences, even taking that fusion to the stage with his recent multimedia presentation, A Certain Strangeness, as New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To Summers, there is a natural connection between both styles of artistic expression.

“The famous quote – ‘All art aspires to the condition of music’ – I think it’s absolutely true,” he said of the comment from English writer Walter Peters. “There’s a profound truth to it because visual art, for instance, becomes music. Poetry becomes music. Anything beautiful becomes music. Why is that? Because music is certainly the most abstract and probably the greatest expression of humanity that we have.

“Ultimately, I’m looking for the same thing, some sort of condition of music, whether it’s stark, angular, melodic, lyrical, emotional, austere. Music can be all those things.”

Summers said he was drawn to black-and-white photography from auteur films like Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal he used to watch growing up in Lancashire, England, but didn’t officially begin documenting life around him until he was already an established musician.

“When I got out of the cinema, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he recalled. “I was such an avid guitar player, so wrapped up in the guitar, but it gave me kind of a lust for this black-and-white imagery, the power of the film. Especially visuals combined with music. There was a very powerful thing there.

“I felt it in myself, but at the same time, I was a kid. I was playing the guitar, and I wanted to be in a band. So those concerns pretty much overrode everything else.”

To celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s two passions, the Fender Custom Shop partnered with Leica Camera on the Andy Summers Monochrome Strat.

This breathtaking guitar is custom-wrapped with a collage of monochrome photos taken by Summers with his Leica cameras. Outfitted with a trio of hand-wound Custom Shop ‘60s Strat pickups connected via Vintage Modified #2 wiring, it’s not just an art piece – it’s an instrument fit for the man who helped write so many timeless tunes.

“After all these years of being obsessed with photography and the guitar, I now have the two things together,” he said. “There are some very personal (photos) It’s autobiographical, because these pictures span many years.”

Perhaps the next person who picks up one of these unique guitars will follow in Summers’ footsteps and pick up a camera, as well.

“To me, they’re great tools that I hope inspire creativity,” said Summers.

See the Andy Summers Monochrome Strat here.

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