Also Credited As:Gordon Sumner, Gordon Matthew Sumner, Sting
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|Gordon Matthew Sumner on October 2, 1951 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, GB|
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He was born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner on Oct. 2, 1951 in Newcastle, England to a milkman father and hairdresser mother. Growing up in a blue-collar town, the future star developed a love for music at an early age after finding a rusty Spanish guitar once owned by his uncle. As a student of St. Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle, Sting often snuck into nightclubs like Club-A-Go-Go, where he watched concerts by Cream and Jimi Hendrix. He held several jobs as a young man, including bus conductor, tax officer and schoolteacher before landing paying music gigs. Sting performed with local jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen, whose bandleader Gordon Soloman gave him the nickname "Sting" after the aspiring musician wore a black and yellow striped sweater to one of their gigs. He moved to London in January 1977 and met fellow musicians Stewart Copeland and Henry Padovani. The trio formed The Police with Sting on vocals and bass, Copeland on drums, and Padovani on guitar. A second guitarist Andy Summers joined the band shortly after, but after a few months Padovani left the group and The Police became a three-man band.
The Police released its debut album Outlandos d'Amour in 1978, which initially flopped on the charts. The album gained more momentum due to "Roxanne," a song about prostitution that Sting wrote after visiting a red-light district in Paris. The single gave The Police mainstream exposure after charting at No. 32 in the U.S. and No. 12 in the U.K. almost a year after its release. "Roxanne" went on to become one of the group's most famous tracks and even made Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Fusing rock, reggae and punk music, The Police churned out several hit songs for the next several years, including "Message in a Bottle" (1979), "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (1980), and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
In 1983, the band released its most celebrated album Synchronicity. Switching their sound from reggae-tinged rock to more New Wave and world music influences, The Police's fifth and final studio album yielded their signature track "Every Breath You Take," which won Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 1984 Grammy Awards. Written while Sting was going through a divorce with his first wife, Frances Tomelty, "Every Breath You Take" was a commercially successful single and heavily played music video. It also ranked No. 84 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Yet even at the band's height of success, conflicting egos and creative differences caused a rift between the members. During a 1983 concert at Shea Stadium in New York, Sting decided it was time to pursue a solo career. The Police disbanded in March 1984 and the trio went their separate ways.
The rocker released his solo debut The Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985. Free to create his signature type of music, Sting eschewed the reggae-tinged rock of The Police and explored pop, jazz, and world music territories. His fourth album, Ten Summoner's Tales, showcased the singer's soft rock style and went triple platinum in sales, thanks to the hit single "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" and the haunting ballad "Fields of Gold." His 2000 album Brand New Day spawned the international hit "Desert Rose," a duet with Algerian singer Cheb Mami, and won Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Sting, who had begun living with actress and film producer Trudie Styler shortly after divorcing Tomelty in 1984, eventually wed his longtime girlfriend in August 1992 and the couple had four children together. At the height of his solo music career, Sting also turned heads for boasting about his sex life. The hitmaker revealed in interviews that he and Styler practiced tantric sex and that he possessed a prodigious libido. Sting's bedroom reputation followed him for several years, until 2004 when he told The Sunday Times that the whole story was fabricated while he was having dinner with fellow musician Bob Geldof a few years prior.
Sting branched out into acting early in his career with The Police, making his debut in "Quadrophenia," the feature film version of The Who's 1973 rock opera, as a Mod-era idol who worked as a bell boy. He impressed critics and audiences as a mechanic in love with Eddie Cochran's music in the British road movie "Radio On" (1980). By the mid-1980s, Sting was appearing in big-budget features, from the science fiction epic "Dune" (1984), to Terry Gilliam's period comedy "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988). The rocker frequently made onscreen cameos, including on the long-running animated series "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ) and in the satirical comedy feature "Bruno" (2009).
He was also a staunch activist, especially for Amnesty International and other human rights causes. Sting took part in the historic Live Aid concert in 1985, as well as the follow-up events Live 8 (2005) and Live Earth (2007). In 1989, Sting - along with Styler and Brazilian Indian tribe leader Raoni Metuktire - formed the Rainforest Foundation Fund, an organization to help save the rainforests and protect the rights of the indigenous people living there. In 2003, Sting was knighted a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to music. That same year, all three members of The Police were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To the delight of longtime fans, the band finally set aside their differences and reunited in 2007 for a world tour that marked the band's 30th anniversary. For his 2010 album Symphonicities, Sting and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra reinterpreted several classic tracks by The Police, including "Roxanne" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," as classical symphonic compositions.
By Marc Cuenco