My Favorite Stewart Copeland Story

by Derrick Story

No doubt that Stewart Copeland really touched a lot of folks today at the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference. I've had countless people walk up to me just to talk about the experience. But my favorite Stewart story happened the night before today's big event.

He arrived here at the Westin late Tuesday. We spotted him at the front desk, and as I approached to greet him, I could tell things weren't going well. I found out later he had a terrible night. After a dinner engagement in the Bay area, he missed his turnoff coming south to Santa Clara and ended up lost in San Jose. He then had a Starbuck's Frappuccino explode inside his car. To make matters worse, his reservations at this hotel were not in order. He was screwed.

Fortunately, I was able to authorize his suite and get him out of the lobby and on to the elevator. I had borrowed a 17" PowerBook and had it stashed in case he needed it during his time with us. I said, "Stewart, let's stop by my room. I have something there that will keep you busy tonight." His mood improved when I handed him the PowerBook. (He's really a geek like the rest of us.) And off he went with it under his arm.

The next day, when we had a few moments to talk, I asked him what he thought of the laptop. Stewart was in a great mood. He said that since he didn't have any of his stuff on it, he just nosed around, and quickly discovered GarageBand. Stewart is more of a ProTools kind of guy, so he's never taken the time to check out GB.

"I saw this cool looking guitar on the dock," he said. "So I clicked on it. It seemed like about 20 minutes had passed, but it was more like a couple hours. Next thing I knew, I had some pretty sweet tracks put together. And that was without a USB keyboard (as in the musical type). I was just tapping on the computer itself."

I wish I could have been the fly on the wall that watched Stewart Copeland discover GarageBand. Handing him that Mac laptop was like handing Babe Ruth his first baseball bat. Here's a guy who was one of the most innovative rock drummers of all time, who has composed many successful scores for movies, including Wall Street, and who is truly a gifted musician -- recovering from a bad day in a Santa Clara hotel room with a 17" PowerBook, laying down tracks with the music program "for the rest of us."

I'd give up my bluetooth to have an export of that composition...