StingOn Our Show: May 22, 2010
Birth Year: 1951
Origin: Wallsend, England
Born in 1951, in Wallsend, north-east England, Gordon Sumner’s life started to change the evening a fellow musician in the Phoenix Jazzmen caught sight of his black and yellow striped sweater and decided to re-christen him Sting.
Sting got his start playing bass with local outfits The Newcastle Big Band, The Phoenix Jazzmen, Earthrise and Last Exit, the latter of which featured his first efforts at song writing. Last Exit were big in the North East, but their jazz fusion was doomed to fail when punk rock exploded onto the music scene in 1976. Soon after, Sting began collaborating with drummer Stewart Copeland and moved to London.
Copeland and Sting joined with Corsican guitarist Henri Padovani and Andy Summers yielding a mix of prog-rock, kinetic, jazz and fusion backgrounds. The band moved to America and began building a fan base for their a combination of new wave toughness and reggae rhythms. Their 1978 debut album Outlandos d’Amour delivered three sizeable hits with “Roxanne,” “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely.” After their next album Regatta hit it big with “Walking on the Moon” and “Message in a Bottle” the band spread worldwide. The hits continued, including their biggest “Every Breath You Take” from the album Synchronicity.
The band split in 1984 and Sting began releasing solo albums. He also starred on Broadway during 1989 in Brecht’s “3 Penny Opera” in the role of Macheath. Subsequent albums included bossa nova, country, gospel and experimental songs.
Puff Daddy reworked “Every Breath You Take” and Sting and Pras from the Fugees redid “Roxanne.” He has also collaborated with Mary J. Blige on the Grammy Award-winning “Whenever I Say Your Name.”
He performs and creates constantly, often surprising listeners and critics with his latest endeavors. 2006 saw Sting turn his attentions to a long-standing interest in the work of acclaimed Elizabethan songwriter John Dowland, with the release of ‘Songs From The Labyrinth’, an album featuring the talents of virtuoso Bosnian lutenist Edin Karamazov.
For his Symphonicity tour backed by 45 members of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra as well as his own three-piece band, Sting brought lush orchestral arrangements to pop songs written decades ago. a quintet consisting of Dominic Miller, David Cossin, Jo Lawry, Rhai Krija and Ira Coleman. The tour found him performing his most celebrated songs re-imagined for symphonic arrangement, conducted by Steven Mercurio (Pavarotti, Bocelli).
Among his many honors, Sting was recognised as Musicares Person of the Year in 2004, and was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. He also earned an honorary doctorate in music from Newcastle University.