STING Immensely Talented, Socially-Conscious and Still on Top by Kaya Morgan
When Sting first burst onto the music scene, who knew if he was a group, or a person? With a career that spans nearly thirty years, and album sales topping 100 million covering the spectrum of pop, rock, jazz, funk, dance, country, Latin and classical, Sting is considered one of the most respected solo artists in music history. And, as one of the finest lyricists of all time, he has collaberated with such musical greats as Luciano Pavarotti, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Rod Stewart. Wealthy beyond avarice, with a fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Sting has become an integral part of the music industry. Yet, his allure goes far beyond music.
Born Gordon Sumner on October 2, 1951, the future superstar musician was raised in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, England. The eldest of four children, father, Eric, delivered milk while mother, Audrey, worked a hairdresser. He received his introduction to music thanks to his mother, a classically trained pianist, who devoted her time helping her son master the instrument. But Audrey also had a liking for Rock'n'Roll, and loved to listen to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis for hours on end. Then, when an uncle who emigrated to Canada had to leave his guitar behind, Sting found it buried in the attic, and knew he'd found a friend for life.
Despite his musical skills, Sting's parents wanted him to work for a bank. At first, when the former choirboy graduated from Saint Cuthbert's Boys School, he secured a seaman's card and worked as bass player for the Ronnie Pierson Trio on the Princess Cruise Lines. Then, trying to live up to his parents expectations, he returned toWarwick University in Coventry, graduating with a degree in English, schooling 11-year-olds and coaching soccer by day, playing those all important music gigs by night.
Clearly, his true passion was guitar and jazz. And, at the urging of his first wife, actress Frances Tomelty, he moved to London searching to hit the big time. While playing in a group called the Phoenix Jazzmen made up of guys in their fifties, he really wanted to set himself apart from their generation. So, he would show up wearing outrageous clothing to try to establish a much younger image. When he showed up one night wearing a black sweater with yellow hoops, it sent the band into fits of laughter. The following night, he was dubbed Sting and the name stuck.
By 1977, he met Stewart Copeland along with Andy Summers, and the Police was born. The band quickly became a huge success both in the Great Britain and the U.S. with No. 1 hits including "Roxanne," "Every breath You Take," "King of Pain," and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," earning five Grammy Awards and two Brits. The trio's work forecast the astonishing inventiveness and range of influences that Sting would only fully realize in his solo career.
At last count, Sting owned seven homes. The family's main residence is a 60-acre estate, 16th century manor in Wiltshire with an antique-filled checkerboard-stone pile of Jacobean molded-plaster ceilings and a bi-level library designed by Sting to house his multitude of books. Then, there is the 600-acre, golden stucco villa, Il Palagio, near Arezzo in Tuscany. The design has an acoustically perfect entrance hall so he can play Bach, and a recording studio where many of his songs are rehearsed and arranged, built on the top floor of the farm building where the estate's grapes and olives are pressed. There are two more homes in London, a house in Los Angeles, a pied-a-terre on Central Park West in New York, and the latest one nestled in the scenic mountains of a national park area known as the Lake District, Cumbria, in northwest England. The most recent acquisition was a surprise gift from his partner and wife of twenty years, a former Shakespearean actress turned movie producer, Trudie Styler, in celebration of his 50th birthday. So moved by the breathtaking beauty of the area and the thoughtfulness of the gift that he was brought to tears.
Sting has acquired so much material wealth that it is no small wonder his former accountant, Keith Moore, was notoriously able to defraud him of seven million dollars without him even missing it. When you consider that just one song can earn him $1,000 a day from airplay on U.S. radio alone, times the number of hit songs he has had that might be played, add to that all the countries with money coming in from different denominations through a multitude of sources — touring, recording, publishing, merchandising, personal appearances — and it's not surprising to see how that kind of money might mysteriously be siphoned away.
Is he worried that it might all end someday? Well, with 15 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, two Brits, two Oscar nominations, an Emmy, citation as Commander of the British Empire, inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as the featured entertainer at the last Super Bowl, a new book — Broken Music, and recipient of the 2004 Person of the Year Award from the prestigious MusicCares Foundation — it's not likely.
This handsome, sexy, hyperintelligent, fifty-ish idol, father of six, regularly practices yoga, has a true social conscience demonstrated by his involvement in Amnesty International, the Rainforest Foundation and even literally giving the coat off his back to a Chinese refugee from Tiananmen Square. Remaining in the forefront of our consciousness through some of the most enduring songs of our time, he seems to continually keep us in touch with the plight of the human spirit.
To find more about Sting, go to www.sting.com
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