Here are two essential facts about Stewart Copeland. First is that he was the drummer for The Police. Second is that he composed the soundtracks to the three original Spyro The Dragon games. You’ll need to keep both of those things in mind for this story.
Copeland was recently interviewed by Vulture, and at the very end, after spending an age talking about his past, his musical tastes and some thoughts on people’s reception to his and The Police’s work, he recounts a story about the private school his kids go to, and how he had a deeply coincidental meeting with one parent in particular, who he doesn’t outright name but claims to be an executive an Activision. As he remembers:
My kids go to private school on the west side of Los Angeles, and they have annual gala events and fundraisers. The parents donate something like two weeks in a Swiss chalet or whatever, and I’m the cheapskate, so I say, “Drum lesson by Stewart Copeland.” At some point, a dad brings his kid over and the kid could care less, but the dad’s fanboying about the Police. Basically, I tell the dads stories and show the kids how to hold the sticks. But one year, a dad comes over with no kid. He wants a drum lesson. It’s a pretty expensive school. He must have achieved something in life. I show him a few things on the drums. I’m gently trying to find out, “Are you a musician? You play in a band?” But he sees my Spyro frame, which says triple platinum. He says, “Oh, Spyro. Do you enjoy those games?” I said, “Yeah. I’m actually thinking of taking Spyro and orchestrating it and turning it into an orchestral piece. I just have to find the guy who now owns the copyright.” And he responded, “I can help you with that. I own them. I’m the CEO of Activision. Now that you mention it, we ought to reissue that game.” So two years later, they reissued it. They rebuilt it from the ground up.
Now that he’s mentioned it, if you’ve ever wondered what Spyro would sound like with an orchestra, Copeland has indeed gone on to play some of it (alongside his other hits) with a live accompaniment, as you can see below:
Update: 3/21, 11:17: This story has been updated to reflect that Copeland does not name the executive. We’ve reached out to clarify the identity of the person in the story.
Update: 3/25, 4:55pm: Copeland’s management says they “believe it was Eric Hirshberg”, the former CEO of Activision Publishing who left in 2018, being referenced in the story.