My favorite Singer - S T I N G
Born 2 October 1951, in Wallsend, north-east England, Gordon Sumner's life started to change the evening a Phoenix Jazzmen bandmate caught sight of his black and yellow hooped sweater and decided to re-christen him Sting. Always a muso, Sting paid his early dues playing bass with local outfits the Newcastle Big Band, The Phoenix Jazzmen, Earthrise and Last Exit, the latter featuring his first efforts at songwriting. Last Exit were big in the North East, but their jazz fusion was doomed to fail when 1976's punk rock exploded onto the scene. Curved Air drummer, Stewart Copeland, saw Last Exit and whilst the music did nothing for him he recognised the potential and personality of the bass player. Within months, Sting, first wife actress Frances Tomelty, and infant son, Joe, were tempted into moving to London.
Seeing punk as flag of convenience, Copeland and Sting together with Corsican Henri Padovani on guitar started rehearsing and looking for gigs. Ever the businessman, Copeland took the name The Police figuring it would be good publicity, and the three started gigging round venues like The Roxy, Marquee and Nashville. Ejecting the inept Padovani for the proven talents of Andy Summers' the band also enrolled Stewart's older brother, Miles, as manager, wowing him with a Sting song called Roxanne. Days later, Copeland had them a record deal. The London press hated the Police seeing through their punk camouflage, and their early releases had no chart success. Instead The Police did the unthinkable - they went to America. The early tours are the stuff of legend - flight's courtesy of Laker's Skytrain, humping their own equipment from gig to gig, and playing to miniscule audiences at the likes of CBGB's and The Rat Club. Their bottle paid off as they slowly built a loyal following, the audiences being won over with the bands combination of new wave toughness and laid back white-reggae.
They certainly made an odd trio with veteran guitarman Summers having a history dating back to the mid-60s, the hyper-kinetic Copeland had been a prog-rocker, and Sting with his love of jazz. The sound the trio made was unique though, and Sting's pin-up looks did them no harm at all. Returning to the UK, where the now reissued Roxanne was charting, the band played a sell-out tour of mid-size venues. The momentum had started. Their debut album Outlandos d'Amour (Oct 78) delivered three hits with Roxanne, Can't Stand Losing You and So Lonely, leading to a headlining slot at the '79 Reading Festival, but it was with Reggatta de Blanc (Oct 79) that they stepped up a gear. The first single, Message In A Bottle, streaked to number one and the album's success was consolidated further when Walking On The Moon also hit the top slot. The band was big, but about to get even bigger. 1980 saw them undertake a mammoth world tour with stops on all continents - including the first rock concerts in Bombay - and the band eventually returned, exhausted, for two shows back in Sting's hometown of Newcastle.
Record company pressure had them back in a Dutch studio within weeks, but Sting's stock of pre-Police songs and ideas were wearing out. It was noticeable that the hits were all Sting's and the pressure to deliver a killer, all important third album was on. History will record Summers as hugely talented guitarist but not as an accomplished song-writer, and whilst Copeland could write catchy tunes, the band knew exactly who was expected to deliver the hits - Sting. When Zenyatta Mondatta was released in October 1980 it produced another number one in Don't Stand So Close To Me and a top five hit with De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da and sold well, but in other respects it was disappointing. A rethink was required.
The results of the rethink materialised with 1981's Ghost In The Machine, a rich, multilayered album which was augmented not only by Jean Roussel's keyboards and Sting's self taught saxophone playing, but by much better writing contributions from Copeland and Summers. A darker record in many ways, the album still had the usual clutch of hit singles with Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic making number 1 and the bleak Invisible Sun reaching number 2 (the latter despite a BBC ban being slapped on the video) and Spirits In The Material World also charting.
Sting was starting to feel the confines of the band oppressive and was turning to other outlets. In the late 70's he had appeared in a couple of movies - a minor part in Chris Petit's "Radio On" and an excellent cameo in Franc Roddam's "Quadrophenia" - and 1981 saw him take his first lead role in Dennis Potter's big-screen version of "Brimstone and Treacle" and in the BBC play "Artemis '81". His first, albeit short solo appearances at The Secret Policeman Ball benefits in aid of Amnesty International also showed a burgeoning interest in humanitarian causes.
The early eighties were becoming a turning point for Sting. His marriage effectively over, he disappeared to Ireland and Jamaica to write songs for the Synchronicity album. The album was preceded by the release of a new single Every Breath You Take in May 1983. The song went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic and simply stayed there. Dressed up as a love song, the song was anything but - it's sinister theme was one of obsession and surveillance. Seventeen years later, the song is one of the most played records on American radio having clocked up five million plays. With such a stand-out track the album couldn't fail and it duly took its rightful place at the top of the world's charts. The band started a spectacular stadium tour of the States, the high spot of which was a sell-out show in New York's Shea Stadium. Further hit singles in the shape of Wrapped Around Your Finger, King of Pain and Synchronicity II helped the album's success even more, including the award of three Grammies, but the writing was on the wall for The Police.
The band's tense relationship was slowly breaking down, with Copeland and Sting occasionally resorting to fist-fights. The pressure cooker of being on the road, of being too big, of too many egos was starting to tell and after the Shea Stadium show Sting told the others that it was time to take a break. The Synchronicity tour finished in March 1984 and the three went their separate ways. Copeland to movie scoring, Summers to guitar duets, and Sting initially to acting. A vastly over-hyped cameo appearance in David Lynch's movie "Dune", and another lead role in the awful "The Bride" followed before Sting picked up his guitar again. This time however, it was not a bass.
In June 1985, Sting released his first solo album The Dream Of The Blue Turtles and it was a revelation. Featuring the cream of America's young, black jazz musicians - Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Omar Hakim and Darryl Jones - the album showed that Sting had lostnone of his songwriting ability by being outside of the Police camp. The new material had a more political stance - We Work The Black Seam dealt with the miner's strike, Children's Crusade with drugs, and Russians with the West's demonisation of communism. He even wrote what he termed "an antidote song" to Every Breath in the shape of If You