My favorite Singer Sting

Born 2 October 1951, in Wallsend, north-east England, Gordon Sumners 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 1976s 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 Stewarts 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 - flights courtesy of Lakers Skytrain, humping their own equipment from gig to gig, and playing to miniscule audiences at the likes of CBGBs 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 Stings 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 dAmour (Oct 78) delivered three hits with Roxanne, Cant 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 albums 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 Stings hometown of Newcastle.

Record company pressure had them back in a Dutch studio within weeks, but Stings stock of pre-Police songs and ideas were wearing out. It was noticeable that the hits were all Stings 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 Dont 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 1981s Ghost In The Machine, a rich, multilayered album which was augmented not only by Jean Roussels keyboards and Stings 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 70s he had appeared in a couple of movies - a minor part in Chris Petits "Radio On" and an excellent cameo in Franc Roddams "Quadrophenia" - and 1981 saw him take his first lead role in Dennis Potters 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 - its 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 couldnt fail and it duly took its rightful place at the top of the worlds charts. The band started a spectacular stadium tour of the States, the high spot of which was a sell-out show in New Yorks Shea Stadium. Further hit singles in the shape of Wrapped Around Your Finger, King of Pain and Synchronicity II helped the albums success even more, including the award of three Grammies, but the writing was on the wall for The Police.

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