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About Sting

Whether as frontman of The Police or in the long solo career that's followed, singer/songwriter/bassist Sting is one of the more quietly influential artists of the late ’70s and beyond, adding measures of sophistication and eclecticism that helped broaden the vocabulary of pop-rock. Raised near the shipyards in working-class Northumberland, England, the artist born Gordon Sumner started his career as a schoolteacher, playing bass in jazz bands by night before cofounding The Police in 1977. (His nickname came from a black-and-yellow-striped sweater he used to wear to gigs.) Though not a punk band per se, The Police—like the Pretenders and Elvis Costello—brought punk energy into the pop realm as the ’70s ticked over into the ’80s, creating a nimble hybrid of jazz, reggae, and rock, whose prime examples (“Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”) helped define what we know as New Wave. Sting’s solo career, which he launched in the mid-’80s, proved even more varied, spanning everything from jazz-pop fusion (The Dream of the Blue Turtles) to Elizabethan lute music (Songs from the Labyrinth) to collaborations with Mary J. Blige and sitar player Anoushka Shankar (Sacred Love), and continuing at a regular clip well into the 2010s. And while the sound tended to be mellow, the music—like that of his friend Peter Gabriel—has always had a quiet intensity to it, steering elements of spirituality, world music, and fusion gently toward the mainstream. A lifelong activist, he has often contributed to musical-humanitarian efforts, including 1985’s Live Aid, and later cofounded The Rainforest Foundation to help preserve the rainforest and homes of indigenous peoples of Brazil.

Wallsend, England
October 2, 1951
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