STING & THE POLICE. Biography and Music | The story of an Englishman
Actor, activist, musician… Sting is a versatile artist who for many years found it difficult to express his deepest feelings in music. The loss made him bring out everything he had inside him, and through his music he managed to make us share love, loneliness or the memories of a childhood that was gone. This is the complete story of Sting and The Police.
Reading Time | 10 min
Listening Time | 1 h
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sting & The Police Trembol Card
- 🗿 Name: Sting’s real name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, and his band was called The Police.
- 🎂 Year: Sting was born on October 2, 1951 in Wallsend, United Kingdom. The Police was founded in 1977, having several periods of activity: From 1977 to 1986, 2003 and from 2007 to 2008.
- 👫 Genres: Sting has moved throughout his career across genres such as pop rock, new wave and soft rock.
- ♈ Nickname: Sting 🐝
- ✍🏽 Signature:
- 🎻 Instruments: Sting can play bass, piano, guitar and even oboe and saxophone.
- 💿 Discography: By 2023 Sting has recorded 5 albums with The Police and 14 solo albums.
- 👬 Members:The Police has had 4 members in its history: Sting, Steward Copeland (drums, keyboards, percussion and backing vocals), Andy Summers (guitar, piano and backing vocals) and Henry Padovani (guitar), the latter only during the first months of the formation.
- 🔗 Sting offical website: sting.com
- 🔗 The Police official website: thepolice.com
- 🗣 Sting Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
- 🗣 The Police Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
If you play music with passion, love and honesty, it will feed your soul, heal your wounds and make your life worth living. Music is its own reward.
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Sting and The Police | Biography and Music
You’ve seen him on TV, on stage, solo and with his band. Sting is everywhere.
He was born on October 2 in England and, even as a child, he wanted to leave the village where he lived. From soccer player and beginner musician, he went on to fill stadiums over the years with The Police, one of the most legendary bands of English rock.
After 5 albums with the band, he decided to embark on a solo career that lasts until today and which has served him to reap great successes. If you want to know his story and that of his music, don’t miss this complete biography of Sting and The Police.
Chapter 1 | A place to escape from
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, known to all as Sting, was born on October 2, 1951 in England. He was the eldest of 4 brothers.
- He spent his childhood in his town in the northwest of the country, Wallsend, where he woke up every morning listening to the sound of one of the largest shipyards in the world 🚢
- Many of his townspeople worked there, but Sting wanted to escape at all costs.
Gordon’s parents, Audrey and Ernest Matthew Sumner, were a hairdresser and milkman respectively. Sting liked to help his father deliver milk.
- At the age of 8, he already began to show an interest in music.
- He had talent and showed it by composing and playing his own songs with an old Spanish guitar, something his family did not look kindly upon 👀
During his childhood and adolescence he played a lot of soccer, becoming a member of Newcastle’s second team.
In 1969, at the age of 18, he finished school and enrolled in university, which he left after only one term.
- Sting earned his living working as a bus driver, construction labourer and even a tax official.
- In 1971 he decided to study teaching, obtaining a teaching degree in 1974. He taught for two years at St Paul’s First School in Cramlington 👨🏫.
He also pursued his passion for music. He began playing small concerts wherever he was asked to do so, earning a place in jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen and Newcastle Big Band.
Where does the name Sting come from?
The nickname comes from a black and yellow striped sweater he often wore when he went to perform with one of his first bands, the Phoenix Jazzmen. The band’s leader, Gordon Solomon, started calling him Sting because it reminded him of a wasp, hence the nickname “Sting” 🐝
Sting himself says that everyone calls him that way, including his family, so if someone on the street says, “Gordon”, his real name, he doesn’t turn around.
In 1974, Sting joins Gerry Richardson, John Hedley and Ronnie “Armour” Pearson forming Last Exit, where Sting was bassist and singer.
- In their first concert they were paid the astronomical figure of 1€ 🤑
- It would be with them that Sting would record his first song of his own called, “Oh my God” in 1975.
Last Exit went on to release a nine-track EP in 1975.
- In May 1976, Sting married his partner, actress Frances Tomelty, with whom he would have two children, Kate and Joe.
- Sting and Frances would divorce in 1982.
Last Exit (Sting) Oh My God
Chapter 2 | The beginnings of The Police
It was 1976, Sting had quit his job to focus on music.
- A Virgin executive went to see his band, ‘Last Exit’, but after the performance, only offered Sting a contract.
- Sting accepted, but later wanted to rescind it, which involved a court battle to win the rights to his early material.
- Last Exit was still playing in Newcastle. One day Stewart Copeland (the future drummer of The Police) saw one of their concerts. He didn’t like the band, but thought Sting would be perfect for the band he had in mind.
In 1977 Sting decided to move with his family to London.
- Sting was still with Last Exit, but at the same time he started seeing Stewart Copeland and a guitarist who accompanied him named Henry Padovani.
Last Exit didn’t have any success and finally broke up. Then Sting, Stewart and Henry formed ‘The Police’ 🚨 in 1976.
- On March 1, 1977, “The Police” played their first gig at that hotbed of punks called ‘Stowaway Club‘ in Wales.
- They earned 5 pounds (about 2€).
Who is Stewart Copeland?
Stewart Copeland is a musician born in the United States in 1952, son of a spy and an archaeologist. He started playing the drums when he was only 8 years old, he also knows how to play other instruments such as the guitar.
His main band before The Police was the progressive rock group ‘Curved Air’.
Stewart moved to London looking to create a new style of music, faster and more powerful. When he met Sting, he thought he would be perfect for it and from there their relationship was born.
- Stewart Copeland is known as one of the best drummers in rock history 🥁
The Police were beginning to make their way in the agitated London punk scene, although the inexperience of the guitarist, Henry Padovani, generated friction in the trio.
- Copeland insisted on keeping him, but Sting was not satisfied.
- In spite of being fashionable, Sting did not want to play punk either, because of the limited musical structure.
At this time they would cross paths with Andy Summers, who played guitar with artists like Michael Oldfield and was part of the band ‘Strontium 90‘.
- For a while they thought that The Police would be a quartet, but they discarded it, and finally Andy Summers remained as the only guitarist 🎸
Thus, in December 1976, Sting, Andy Summers and Steward Copeland laid the foundations of The Police, a pop rock band with influences from punk, post-punk, reggae and jazz music, in the city of London.
- When they started rehearsing and playing together they gradually discovered their sound, which was not like that of any of the punk bands of the time. They found The Police’s own musical style.
Who is Andrew Summers?
Andrew James Summers, más conocido como Andy Summers, nació en Inglaterra en 1942. Obsesionado con la música, dejó los estudios para trabajar en una tienda de música y actuar con su grupo, ‘Zoot Money´s big roll band’.
Andy aprendió guitarra clásica y eléctrica, lo que le permitió trabajar con músicos como Mike Oldfield o Neil Sedaka. En los 70 se unió a la banda ‘Strontium 90’. Durante las sesiones de grabación para su disco, conoció a Sting y a Stewart Copeland, en 1977, formando The Police.
- Andy Summer forma parte de los 100 guitarristas más grandes de todos los tiempos.
The Police Fall Out
Drummer Stewart Copeland was the main songwriter, although Sting also wrote some tracks.
- The first song they released was the punk genre, Fall Out. It did not achieve much success.
- In 1977, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland performed together for the first time as The Police at Rebecca’s in Birmingham.
The Police Roxanne
The Police signed with A&M Records this week in 1978.
- ‘Roxanne’ was the game-changing track after Miles, Stewart Copeland’s brother and manager of the group, played it to the label.
- Sting said they were a bit embarrassed by the song because compared to the rest of their usual music, it was slow, quiet and melodic.
- The label freaked out 😲
In 1978 The Police released their first album, ‘Outlandos d’Amour‘, framed in the new wave current, with it the band made a niche in the British music scene.
What does Roxanne mean?
The most successful song from The Police’s first album was Roxanne, a song about a fictional prostitute.
Sting was walking around Paris 🗼 after a show, when he saw some prostitutes next to a poster advertising the play ‘Cyrano de Bergerac‘, whose protagonist is Roxanne, and that’s where he got the idea for the song.
Outlandos D’Amour was the reflection of the charge of energy, optimism and hope that the three members of The Police felt, even though it was recorded during 6 months, in a shabby studio with egg cartons on the walls, on a tape already used before.
- Roxanne was not the only song that stood out, So Lonely or Can’t Stand Losing You. became hits too.
- Can’t Stand Losing You, tells the story of a young man who decides to commit suicide because his girl left him.
The Police Can’t Stand Losing You
In 1978, The Police shot a TV commercial for Wrigley’s Spearmint 🍬 chewing gum, for which they dyed their hair blonde and created their signature bleached blonde look. The crazy thing is that the brand never used the ad.
Just one year after the success of Outlandos d’Amour, the trio returned with Reggattta de Blanc in 1979.
- Influenced by reggae music, this album was also recorded at Surrey Sound Studios, the same crappy place as the first album, but this time it was recorded in record time, two weeks.
- Thanks to Sting’s songs like Message in a Bottle or Walking on the Moon, the album is considered one of the 500 best albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
- For fans, this is undoubtedly the band’s best album and Message in a Bottle, the best song of their entire discography.
The Police Message in a Bottle
On The Police’s early tours, mostly in the U.S., they had to load their own equipment into tour vans because as they said, “it usually takes two records to make money“.
During that 1979 tour, Sting, Andy and Stewart stopped in Egypt, where they rented three horses and traversed the desert unsupervised, unattended, unfettered. They galloped around the three great pyramids and remember it as one of the most special moments of their career.
- The money would start coming in and with it, they decided to go to record the next album in the Caribbean 🏝️
In 1980 came The Police’s third studio album, Zenyattà Mondatta, with which they managed to cross the borders of the United Kingdom and reach the North American market.
- The name of the album was an invention of Copeland, who decided to play for the first word with ‘zen‘ and ‘Yatta‘, whose origin comes from the surname of the Kenyan journalist and activist Jomo Kenyatta. As for ‘Mondatta‘, it is also an invented term resulting from the combination of the French words Le Monde and Regatta.
- Zenyattà Mondatta is made up of songs influenced by reggae and punk.
- The most successful singles where Don’t Stand So Close to Me and De Do Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, as well as the Grammy-winning Behind my Camel.
Where does the name The Police come from?
The father of the drummer and driving force behind The Police 👮♂️, Stewart Copeland, had been a spy, working as head of the CIA’s Political Action Team. He would later retire and form his own police agency. Stewart named the band ‘The Police’ as an ironic reference to his father.
The Police Everything little thing she does is magic
After their first three albums, they wanted to get as far away as possible from the sound they had already created.
- Sting was determined to play the saxophone 🎷
They abandon the new wave and focus on pop, a genre in which their 4th album, Ghost in the Machine, released in 1981, is framed.
- The album included big hits such as: Spirits in the Material World, Invisible Sun and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.
- Ghost in the Machine is The Police’s darkest album, where they dealt with the complicated political and social situation of the moment.
- Another of the inspirations for this work was Arthur Koestler’s book of the same name, one of Sting’s favorites, which deals with the relationship between the body and the mind 🧠
The Police won their first BRIT award in 1982 for best British group, one month after “Ghost In The Machine” went gold!
- They toured Europe, the United States and South America again, scoring a big hit at the Chilean Viña del Mar festival in 1982.
After the conclusion of the tour, the group took a fallow year, devoting each member their time to personal projects.
- Sting was already a big star, so it was easy for him to take a step into the world of cinema. In 1979, he participated in the film ‘Quadrophenia‘, based on the The Who’s rock opera, he would also participate in ‘Radio On‘ and ‘Brimstone and Treacle‘. Sting’s first major film would be ‘Dune’ in 1983.
- Andy Summers recorded his first album with Robert Fripp, ‘I Advance Masked‘, and Stewart Copeland composed the score for the film ‘Rumble Fish‘.
Sting’s popularity grew, just as his relationship with Stewart Copeland worsened.
- The pressures of worldwide fame, the conflicts of egos and his financial success, added to the complicated personal situation of both, whose marriages ended in divorce. Everything foreshadowed the end 😞
Released in 1983, Synchronicity, the fifth and last album by The Police was a sales success and praised by all music critics, which is not surprising if we consider that it included one of the most memorable songs in history, ‘Every Breath You Take‘, a true anthem.
- The recording of this famous song was not easy at all. The tension was such between the band members that they almost came to blows.
- Every Breathe You Take is a song about survival. In Sting’s words, not a particularly healthy song, although many consider it a romantic song, there is a certain darkness in the tune.
The friction would end with the dissolution of the group, which ended with the Synchronicity tour.
- The band’s last official concert in its original stage took place on March 4, 1984.
No official communiqué was ever issued, but The Police broke up irretrievably and Sting immediately began his solo career.
Sting’s first solo album was ‘The dream of the blue turtles‘, a pop style album released in 1985.
Sting has always been a person who likes change, he gets bored of repeating the same thing even if it is a successful formula, that’s why he wanted this album to be a conglomerate of different styles.
Sting’s mother was dying while he was recording the album and even if unconsciously, she was the guiding star of the record. It became a therapy, a way to process his feelings of grief, as in the track ‘If you love somebody set them free‘ where he wanted to express that he should be left alone.
- Sting’s mother died at the age of 53 and his father only five months later at 57. However, he was unable to attend the funeral of either of his parents due to his professional commitments.
Sting achieved a triple platinum record for this work 💿💿💿💿💿
Sting If you love somebody set them free
Sting Englishman in New York
Just two years later, in 1987, his path joined again with Andy Summers in the production of his 2nd album, Nothing Like the Sun.
- The best tracks were: Be still my beating heart, We’ll be together, and They Dance Alone, a song that tells the story of a woman who danced in the streets of Chile with photographs of her husband, father, brothers and sons, who died during the Pinochet dictatorship.
- ‘Englishman in New York‘, which is inspired by a gay friend of Sting’s, deserves a special mention. This man wrote a book about his complicated life. Sting read it and was moved by it. He wrote the song with the intention of saying, “let everyone live their own life“.
A year later, in 1986, Sting would go to Chile to give several concerts organized by Amnesty International. There he would play again with The Police.
- Nothing like the sun, would be released in 1987. Sting would dare to sing some of the songs in Spanish and Portuguese in the EP ‘Nada como el sol‘.
In 1989, Sting and his partner, Trudie Styler, founded the NPO Rainforest Foundation, an association that sought to alleviate the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Over the years, the foundation has achieved a global impact, being awarded for its philanthropic work 👍
The turn of the decade started off strong for Sting with the 1991 release of The Soul Cages, a tribute album to his late father. Sting explained it this way:
I went almost three years without writing so much as a couplet. At one point I began to wonder why my creativity had suddenly dried up. I think in my subconscious I was refusing to accept reality.
One day I sat down at the piano and began to make free associations… The words began to manifest themselves, although at first they seemed to me to be nothing more than unconnected images and verses. Quite a few referred to the sea, and all were connected in one way or another to my father and his death.
One of the most successful songs from this album was All This Time, although it was with Soul Cages that he won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in the 1992 edition.
Many consider it Sting’s best solo album and even the best of his career, although for us, his next album ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales‘ is his masterpiece.
Sting and Trudie Styler
On August 22, 1992 Sting married producer and actress Trudie Styler, with stellar performances by his former bandmates from The Police.
Sting and Trudie would go on to have four children together: Mickey, Coco, Jake and Giacomo Luke.
Sting Fields of Gold
In 1992 he also had the honor of being named doctor honoris causa by the department of music of the University of Northumbria, and later he would also be named doctor honoris causa by the University of Berklee.
To compose his next album Sting left London and went to the countryside. He wrote near the river, the trees, the fields… in an idyllic environment that inspired songs like ‘Fields of Gold‘, a song that sounds like an old folk.
- In 1993 ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales‘ was released.
Ten Summoner’s Tale, was a best seller thanks in part to ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith in You’, which as a good classic has been covered many times, being one of the best the heavy version by Disturbed.
During this period his collaborations with other artists in songs for soundtracks were frequent. In 1992 he participated with Eric Clapton in It’s probably me, for Lethal Weapon 3. In 1993 it was the turn of Demolition Man, and perhaps the best, All For Love, with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart for The Three Musketeers.
Sting, Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart All for love
Fast forward to 1996, when Sting released ‘Mercury Falling‘.
- Before that he had already shared with his fans ‘Fields Of Golds: The Best of Sting‘, a compilation album.
- Mercury Falling included songs like: You Still Touch Me or I’m so happy I can’t stop crying.
- Curiously, the words that form the title of this album are heard at the beginning and at the end, a special touch that put the icing on the cake to this great album.
- It is an intimate and calm album, in line with the lifestyle of the singer at that time, a lover of disciplines such as yoga 🧘♂️
Two years later he made the leap to the big screen, with his appearance in the comedy ‘Lock, stock and two smoking barrels‘.
Sting Desert Rose
It was 1999, Sting was 48 years old and to end the decade of the 90s on a high note, he released his sixth album, ‘Brand New Day‘. His most optimistic album, as he explained:
The weird thing about this album is not that it’s about love, but that all the songs are about love. The main emotion of the album is optimism in the face of the new millennium. It’s a bit naïve, but my obligation as an artist is to be naïve.
- It was a huge success in the United States and earned him a highly acclaimed return to the stage.
- He won 2 Grammy Awards, one for Best Pop Vocal Album and one for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
The best song on the album is the great ‘Desert Rose 🌹’, a track that talks about spiritually belonging to someone. The funny thing is that Sting sings it with Cheb Mami, who doesn’t speak English. Sting asked him to write lyrics in Arabic according to what the music inspired him, when he finished, Sting asked him what he wrote about and he said: “it’s about belonging to someone“, the same as Sting’s lyrics, coincidence or not?
The year 2000 brought new music from Sting:
- He participated in the soundtrack Dolphins and in the Disney film, ‘The Emperor’s New Groove‘, with ‘My Funny Friend and Me‘, which earned him an Oscar nomination.
- In 2001 she performed at the Super Bowl and won a Grammy for She Walks This Earth (Soberana Rosa).
- Also in 2001 he recorded a live performance from his home in Tuscany, Italy, on September 11, the same day of the attack on the twin towers. Sting dedicated that album to them.
- In 2002 he opened the Winter Olympic Games, held in Utah, and received the Golden Globe for ‘Until…’, the main theme of the film Kate & Leopold, which also earned him the 2nd Oscar nomination.
- In addition, he was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an award that only a few have 🎖️
Sting’s next album came in 2003, Sacred Love, an experimental album with a much more ethnic sound, for which he had the participation of artists such as Mary J. Blige and Anoushka Shankar.
- It was not one of his most acclaimed works.
- In the album Sting unleashed his anger because after 9/11, the United States, which was supported by the whole world could have done something good, but what it did was to invade Iraq 😤
Also in 2003, he published his autobiography entitled ‘Broken music‘, where he recounts particular passages of his childhood that remain, in his own words, intensely in his memory, to understand how the child he was has become the adult he is today.
- He was again nominated for an Oscar, this time for ‘You will be my ain true love‘, from the film Cold Mountain, a duet with Alison Krauss.
In 2004, he packed his bags and went on tour to promote his latest album, touring small theaters and concert halls.
Sting Send your love
The Police Roxanne (Grammy 2007)
In 2006 he published ‘Songs from the Labyrinth’ because many people told him that he and John Downland were musically similar. John was a 16th century British composer. Sting wanted to explore that similarity with this album of covers of Downland’s work.
A year later came the moment many had been waiting for, the reunion of The Police.
- They did it in style, performing at the opening of the 2007 Grammy Awards.
- They sang their hit Roxanne and, not content with that, they announced a year-long tour that took them all over the world 🌏
The Police’s return was timely because once the tour was over, Sting returned to the studio to continue his solo career, recording what would be his first Christmas album, ‘If on a winter’s night’, released in 2009.
- The album is a tribute to his favorite season of the year, winter.
- It is also a return to his roots, singing some songs in the dialect of the region of England where he was born and which he lost when he went to live in London.
In 2011 he turned 60 years old, 25 of which had been a solo career. Without feeling old and with the energy of a young man, he celebrated with a compilation called ‘25 Years‘, where he said that he does not think too much about the past or the future, he tries to live in the present.
- In 2011, Sting was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Sting and the bass 🎸
Sting had always been a guitar player, until someone lent him a homemade bass, and he fell in love with it – the dimensions, the aesthetics – plus he realized he could play bass and sing at the same time, which made him different and special.
Sting always says he’s a singing bass player and is in love with old basses, like one he calls a ‘b-rig‘.
During the following years he was on the Symphonicity Tour, a tour in which he sang The Police’s most iconic songs in symphonic version and from which he released an album of the same name.
- Around that time, Sting worked on the musical The Last Ship, inspired by his own childhood in Wallsend. In fact, that’s what he ended up calling his eleventh studio album, released in 2013.
- This album had the honor of being the first in 10 years to contain original songs by the artist.
Sting The Last Ship
Everything comes full circle, so it’s no wonder that after years in the music industry, Sting decided to return to his rock roots with ‘57th & 9th‘, released in 2016.
- The album takes its name from the New York intersection he crossed every day to go to the studio where he recorded the work.
This work took him on tour to venues such as Bataclan in Paris (a year after the attack that took place there), he also performed as a guest at the Sanremo Festival, performing the Italian version of Mad About You or even at the birthday of the Queen of England 👸
- Although it may surprise Sting was again nominated for the Oscar for Best Song in 2017 for ‘The Empty Chair’, belonging to the film ‘Jim: The James Foley Story’. This time… he didn’t get it either.
2019 was the turn of ‘My Songs‘, a covers CD where he brought together the best of his solo career with the best of The Police. Shortly after he would publish ‘Duets’, a work in which he compiles collaborations with great artists like Shaggy, Annie Lennox or Eric Clapton.
- He would also join forces with Shaggy to explore reggae music with the album ’44/876′ released in 2018.
- The album title refers to the UK telephone prefix (+44) and the US prefix of Jamaica (876), the respective countries of origin of Sting and Shaggy.
Sting, Shaggy, Aidonia, Morgan Heritage 44/876
Like so many other artists, Sting has had his own history with drugs. He told that marijuana 🚬 is part of his creative tools, as it helps him in those moments when a lyric gets stuck.
I used to believe that you had to be destructive to be creative. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to lead a quiet, balanced life and still be creative. That’s my plan.
In 2022 Sting sold his entire music catalog to Universal for about 220 million euros, which joins the millionaire sales of his solo career and with The Police, which allowed him to have some vineyards on his property in Tuscany and a castle in Wiltshire 🏰
At 71, Sting is still working, because as he says, if he doesn’t work he doesn’t know what his role in life is 😄, that’s why in 2023 he will go on tour again around the world with his magnificent music.