|Birth name||Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner|
|Also known as||Sting|
|Born||2 October 1951|
|Genres||Rock, pop, adult contemporary|
|Occupation||Musician, Singer-songwriter, Producer, Actor, school teacher|
|Instruments||Vocals, Bass guitar, Guitar, Double bass, Keyboards, Saxophone, Lute|
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (born 2 October 1951), widely known by his stage name Sting, is a musician and actor.
Prior to starting his solo career, he was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bassist of the rock music band The Police. As a solo musician and member of The Police, Sting has received sixteen Grammy Awards for his work, receiving his first Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1981, and receiving an Oscar nomination for best song. Sting was an influential songwiter during the 1980s and also contributed on Arcadia's 1985 So Red the Rose album. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Sumner was born in the town of Wallsend in the northeast of England, to Audrey (née Cowell), a hairdresser, and Ernest Matthew Sumner, a milkman and engineer. His parents had three more children after Gordon: a son (Philip) and two daughters (Angela and Anita). The young Gordon would often assist his father with the early-morning milk-delivery rounds. Early on, Gordon's "best friend" was an old Spanish guitar with five rusty strings which had been left behind by an uncle who had emigrated to Canada.
He attended St. Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle upon Tyne. He would often sneak into nightclubs like the Club-A-Go-Go. Here, he would watch acts such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix, artists who would later influence his own music. After jobs as a bus conductor, a construction labourer, and a tax officer, he attended Northern Counties College of Education, (which later became part of Northumbria University) from 1971 to 1974 and qualified as a teacher. He then worked as a schoolteacher at St. Paul's Middle School in Cramlington for two years.
His first music gigs were wherever he could get a playing job. He performed evenings, weekends, and during breaks from college and from teaching in jazz groups. He played with local jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen, the Newcastle Big Band, and Last Exit. He gained his nickname after he performed wearing a black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes while onstage with the Phoenix Jazzmen. Bandleader Gordon Solomon thought that the sweater made him look like a yellowjacket, which prompted the nickname "Sting". In a press conference filmed in the movie Bring on the Night, he jokingly stated when referred to by a journalist as Mr. Sumner, "My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Mr. Sumner character?"
The Police[edit | edit source]
In January 1977, Sting moved from Newcastle to London, and soon thereafter he joined Stewart Copeland and Henry Padovani (who was soon replaced by Andy Summers) to form the New Wave band The Police. Between 1978 and 1983, they released five chart-topping albums and won six Grammy Awards. Although their initial sound was punk inspired, The Police soon switched to reggae-tinged rock and minimalist pop. Their last album, Synchronicity, which included their most successful song, "Every Breath You Take", was released in 1983. While never formally breaking up, after Synchronicity the group agreed to concentrate on solo projects. As the years went by the band members, particularly Sting, dismissed the possibility of reforming. In 2007, however, the band reformed and undertook a world tour.
Early Solo Work[edit | edit source]
In September 1981, Sting made his first live solo appearance, performing on all four nights of the fourth Amnesty International benefit The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the invitation of producer Martin Lewis. He performed solo versions of "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle". He also led an all-star band (dubbed "The Secret Police") on his own arrangement of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released". The band and chorus included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, all of whom except Beck later worked together on Live Aid. His performances were featured prominently in the album and movie of the show and drew critical attention to his work. Sumner's participation in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball was the beginning of his growing involvement in raising money and consciousness for political and social causes. In 1982 he released a solo single, "Spread a Little Happiness" from the film version of the Dennis Potter television play Brimstone and Treacle. The song was a re-interpretation of a song from the 1920s musical Mr. Cinders by Vivian Ellis, and was a surprise Top 20 hit in the UK
1980s[edit | edit source]
His first solo album, 1985's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, featured a cast of accomplished jazz musicians, including Kenny Kirkland, Darryl Jones, Omar Hakim, and Branford Marsalis. It included the hit single "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free". The single included a fan favourite non-LP track titled "Another Day". The album also yielded the hits "Fortress Around Your Heart", "Russians", and "Love is the Seventh Wave". Within a year, it reached Triple Platinum. This album would help Sting garner a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. The film Bring on the Night, directed by Michael Apted, documented the formation of the band and its first concert in France.Also in 1985, he sang the introduction and chorus to "Money for Nothing", a groundbreaking song by Dire Straits (he was given co-writer status and receives royalties based on his somewhat minor performance, supposedly because he reused his melody from The Police hit "Don't Stand So Close to Me" for his vocal parts. It is one of only two shared songwriting credits on any Dire Straits album). He performed this song with Dire Straits at the Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium. He also provided a short guest vocal performance on the Miles Davis album You're Under Arrest. He also sang backing vocals in Arcadia's single "The Promise" from their only album, So Red the Rose. He also contributed a version of "Mack the Knife" to the Hal Willner-produced tribute album Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill.
He released ...Nothing Like the Sun in 1987, including the hit songs "We'll Be Together", "Fragile", "Englishman in New York", and "Be Still My Beating Heart", dedicated to his recently-deceased mother. It eventually went Double Platinum. The song "The Secret Marriage" from this album was adapted from a melody by German composer Hanns Eisler, and "Englishman In New York" was about the eccentric writer Quentin Crisp. The album's title is taken from William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130.
Soon thereafter, in February 1988, he released Nada como el sol, a selection of five songs from Sun sung (by Sting himself) in Spanish and Portuguese. He was also involved in two other recordings in the late 1980s, the first in 1987 with noted jazz arranger Gil Evans who placed Sting in a big band setting for a live album of Sting's songs (the CD was not released in the U.S.), and the second on Frank Zappa's 1988 Broadway the Hard Way album, where Sting performs an unusual arrangement of "Murder By Numbers", set to the tune "Stolen Moments" by jazz composer Oliver Nelson, and "dedicated" to fundamentalist evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. October 1988 saw the release of Igor Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale with the London Sinfonietta conducted by Kent Nagano. It featured Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellen and Sting in the role of the soldier.
1990s[edit | edit source]
His 1991 album The Soul Cages was dedicated to his recently deceased father and included the Top 10 song "All this Time", which reached #5 on the U.S. Pop chart, and the Grammy-winning "The Soul Cages". The album eventually went Platinum. The following year, he married Trudie Styler and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in music from Northumbria University. In 1991, Sting appeared on "Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin ", an album dedicated to the singer/songwriter duo. Sting performed "Come Down in Time", for the album which also features other popular artists and their renditions of John/Taupin Songs. The album was released on 22 October 1991 by Polydor. In 1993, he released the album Ten Summoner's Tales, which went Triple Platinum in just over a year. Ten Summoner's Tales was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1993 and nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1994. The title is wordplay on his surname, Sumner and The Summoner's Tale, one of The Canterbury Tales. The single, "Fields of Gold" had moderate success on radio airways. Concurrent video albums were released to support Soul Cages (a live concert) and Ten Summoner's Tales (recorded during the recording sessions for the album).
In May 1993, he released a cover of his own classic Police song from the Ghost in the Machine album, "Demolition Man" for the Demolition Man film. Together with Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting performed the chart-topping song "All For Love" for the film The Three Musketeers. The song stayed at the top of the U.S. charts for five weeks and went Platinum; it is to date Sting's only song from his post-Police career to top the U.S. charts. In February, he won two more Grammy Awards and was nominated for three more. The Berklee College of Music gave him his second honorary doctorate of music degree in May. In November, he released a greatest hits compilation called Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting, which eventually was certified Double Platinum. That same year, he was featured in a duet with Vanessa Williams on the song "Sister Moon," which appeared on her album The Sweetest Days.
His 1996 album, Mercury Falling debuted strongly with the single "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot", but it dropped quickly on the charts. He reached the Top 40 with two singles the same year with "You Still Touch Me" (June) and "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" (December) (which became a country music hit the next year in a version recorded with American country singer Toby Keith). During this period, Sting was also recording music for the upcoming Disney film Kingdom of the Sun, which went on to be reworked into The Emperor's New Groove. The film went through drastic overhauls and plot changes, many of which were documented by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler. She captured the moment he was called by Disney who then informed him that his songs would not be used in the final film. The story was put into a final product: The Sweatbox, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Disney currently holds the rights to the film and will not grant its release. That same year Sting also released a little-known CD-ROM called All This Time, which provided music, commentary and custom computer features describing Sting and his music from his perspective.
Also in 1996, he provided some vocals for the Tina Turner single "On Silent Wings" as a part of her Wildest Dreams album. Sting has also cooperated with Greek popular singer George Dalaras, giving a common concert in Athens. "Moonlight", a rare jazz performance by Sting for the 1995 remake of Sabrina, written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and John Williams, was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.
2000s[edit | edit source]
The Emperor's New Groove soundtrack was released with complete songs from the previous version of the film, which included Rascal Flatts and Shawn Colvin. This is seen by many as a move on Disney's part to soothe the relationship with Sting and to keep open the door for future projects. The final single used to promote the film was "My Funny Friend and Me". Sting's September 1999 album Brand New Day included the Top 40 hits "Brand New Day" and "Desert Rose". The album went Triple Platinum by January 2001. In 2000, he won Grammy Awards for Brand New Day and the song of the same name. At the awards ceremony, he performed "Desert Rose" with his collaborator on the album version, Cheb Mami. For his performance, the Arab-American Institute Foundation gave him the Khalil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award. However, Sting was criticized for appearing in a Jaguar advertisement using "Desert Rose" as its backing track, particularly as he was a notable environmentalist.
In February 2001 he won another Grammy Award for his rendition of "She Walks This Earth (Soberana Rosa)" on A Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins. His song "After The Rain Has Fallen" made it into the Top 40. His next project was to record a live album at his Tuscan villa, which was to be released as a CD and DVD, as well as being simulcast in its entirety on the internet. The CD and DVD were to be entitled On such a night and was intended to feature re-workings of Sting favourites such as "Roxanne" and "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." The concert, scheduled for 11 September 2001, was altered in various ways due to the terrorist attacks in America that day. The webcast was shut down after one song (a reworked version of "Fragile"), after which Sting let it be up to the audience whether or not to continue with the show. Eventually they decided to go through with the concert, and the resultant album and DVD was released in November under a different title, ...All This Time. Both are dedicated "to all those who lost their lives on that day". He performed a special arrangement of "Fragile" with Yo-Yo Ma and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2002 he won a Golden Globe Award for the song "Until..." from the film Kate and Leopold. Written and performed by him, "Until..." was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Song. In June he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the summer, Sting was awarded the British honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 2003 he released Sacred Love, a studio album featuring collaborations with hip-hop artist Mary J. Blige and sitar performer Anoushka Shankar. He and Blige won a Grammy for their duet, "Whenever I Say Your Name". The song is based on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Praeambulum 1 C-Major (BWV 924) from the Klavierbuechlein fuer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach though Sting gave little comment on this adaptation. . The album did not have the hit singles like his previous releases. The first single, "Send Your Love" reached only #30 and reviews were mixed. However, the album did reach platinum status by January 2004.
His autobiography Broken Music was published in October. He embarked on a Sacred Love tour in 2004 with performances by Annie Lennox. Sting went on the Broken Music tour, touring smaller venues, with a four piece band starting in Los Angeles on 28 March 2005 and ending this "College Tour" on 14 May 2005. Sting appears as a guest on the 2005 Monkey Business CD by American hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas, adding vocals to the track "Union" which makes heavy use of samples from his Englishman in New York. Continuing with his involvement in Live Aid, he appeared at Live 8 in July 2005. During 2006, Sting collaborated with Roberto Livi in producing a Spanish language version of his cult classic "Fragile" entitled "Fragilidad" on the album Rhythms Del Mundo by Latino recording legends "The Buena Vista Sound" (previously known as the Buena Vista Social Club) available via www.apeuk.org.In October 2006, he released an album, to mixed reviews, entitled Songs from the Labyrinth featuring the music of John Dowland (an Elizabethan-era composer) and accompaniment from Bosnian lute player Edin Karamazov. As a part of the promotion of this album, he appeared on the fifth episode of Studio 60 during which he performed a segment of Dowland's "Come Again" as well as his own "Fields of Gold" in the arrangement for voice and two archlutes. Reports surfaced in early 2007 that Sting would reunite with his former Police band mates for a 30th anniversary tour. These rumours were confirmed by posts on the popular fanzine Stingus and on various other news websites such as De Standaard, Yahoo! etc. In May 2007, Deutsche Grammophon releases the opera Welcome to the Voice (composer Steve Nieve), with Sting portraying the main character, Dyonisos.
On 11 February 2007, he reunited with the other members of the Police as the introductory act for the 2007 Grammy Awards, singing "Roxanne", and subsequently announced The Police Reunion Tour, the first concert of which was held in Vancouver on 28 May in front of 22,000 fans at one of two nearly sold-out concerts. The Police toured for more than a year, beginning with North America and eventually crossing over to Europe, South America, Australia & New Zealand and Japan. The last concert was at Madison Square Garden on 7 August 2008, during which his three daughters appeared with him onstage. In 2007 he recorded a song called "Power's Out" with Nicole Scherzinger (lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls) the song is featured on her debut album Her Name Is Nicole which she was prepared to release in the beginning of 2008. On 1 February 2008, "Power's Out" was added on Nicole's official website and now "Power's Out" will be the official second single off Her Name Is Nicole. He also works with his sound enginere Ian Newton and his daughter Jenny Newton who is a singer
He is featured as a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour."Brand New Day" was the final song of the night for the Neighborhood Ball, one of ten inaugural balls honouring President Barack Obama on Inauguration Day, 20 January 2009. Sting was joined by Stevie Wonder on harmonica. According to an article posted on his official website, Sting entered the studio in early February 2009 to begin work on a new album "If on a Winter's Night..." that is set to release October 26, 2009. Initial reviews by fans that had access to early promotional copies were mixed, and some questioned Sting's artistic direction with this album.