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Date of Birth: 02/10/1951
Biography: Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, CBE, alias Sting, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, activist, actor and philanthropist. Prior to starting his solo career, he was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bassist of the rock band The Police.
Sting has varied his musical style throughout his career, incorporating distinct elements of jazz, reggae, classical, new age, and worldbeat into his music. As a solo musician and member of The Police, Sting has received sixteen Grammy Awards for his work, receiving his first Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1981, and several Oscar nominations for Best Original Song. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Sting was born in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the eldest of four children born to Audrey (nee Cowell), a hairdresser, and Ernest Matthew Sumner, a milkman and engineer. His siblings were Philip, Angela and Anita. Young Gordon would often assist his father with the early-morning milk-delivery rounds and his "best friend" was an old Spanish guitar with five rusty strings which had been left behind by an uncle who had emigrated to Canada.
He attended St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, in Newcastle upon Tyne. He would often sneak into nightclubs like the Club-A-Go-Go, where he would watch acts such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix, artists who would later influence his own music. After jobs as a bus conductor, a construction labourer, and a tax officer, he attended Northern Counties College of Education, from 1971 to 1974 and qualified as a teacher. He then worked as a schoolteacher at St. Paul's First School in Cramlington for two years.
Sting performed in jazz bands on evenings, weekends, and during breaks from college and from teaching. He played with local jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen, the Newcastle Big Band, and Last Exit. He gained his nickname after he performed wearing a black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes while onstage with the Phoenix Jazzmen. Bandleader Gordon Solomon thought that the sweater made him look like a bee, which prompted the nickname "Sting". When addressed as "Gordon" by a journalist at a press conference filmed in the movie Bring on the Night, he jokingly stated, "My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?"
In January 1977, Sting moved from Newcastle to London, and soon thereafter he joined Stewart Copeland and Henry Padovani (who was soon replaced by Andy Summers) to form the New Wave band The Police. Between 1978 and 1983, they released five chart-topping albums and won six Grammy Awards. Although their initial sound was punk inspired, The Police soon switched to reggae-tinged rock and minimalist pop. Their last album, Synchronicity, which included their most successful song, "Every Breath You Take", was released in 1983. According to Sting, who appeared in the documentary Last Play at Shea, he decided to leave The Police while onstage during the 18 August 1983 concert at Shea Stadium because he felt that playing that venue was "Everest". While never formally breaking up, after Synchronicity the group agreed to concentrate on solo projects. As the years went by, the band members, particularly Sting, dismissed the possibility of reforming. In 2007, however, the band reformed and undertook a world tour.
In September 1981, Sting made his first live solo appearance, performing on all four nights of the fourth Amnesty International benefit The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the invitation of producer Martin Lewis. He performed solo versions of "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle". He also led an all-star band (dubbed "The Secret Police") on his own arrangement of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released". The band and chorus included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, all of whom except Beck later worked together on Live Aid. His performances were featured prominently in the album and movie of the show and drew critical attention to his work. Sting's participation in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball was the beginning of his growing involvement in raising money and consciousness for political and social causes. In 1982 he released a solo single, "Spread a Little Happiness" from the film version of the Dennis Potter television play Brimstone and Treacle. The song was a re-interpretation of a song from the 1920s musical Mr. Cinders by Vivian Ellis, and was a surprise Top 20 hit in the UK.
Sting married actress Frances Tomelty from Northern Ireland, on 1 May 1976. Before they divorced in 1984, the couple had two children: Joseph (born 1976) and Fuchsia Catherine (born 1982). In 1980 Sting became a tax exile and moved to Galway in Ireland. In 1982, shortly after the birth of his second child, Sting separated from Tomelty and began living with actress (and later film producer) Trudie Styler. The couple eventually married on 20 August 1992.
Sting and Styler have four children: Bridget Michael ( born 1984), Jake (born 1985), Eliot Pauline (born 1990), and Giacomo Luke (born 1995).
Both of Sting's parents died from cancer in 1987. He did not, however, attend either funeral stating that the media fuss would be disrespectful to his parents. 1995 found Sting preparing for a court appearance against his former accountant who had misappropriated several million pounds of his money. Sting owns several homes worldwide, including Elizabethan manor house Lake House and its 60 acre country estate near Salisbury, Wiltshire; a country cottage in the Lake District; a New York City apartment; a beach house in Malibu; a 600-acre (2.4 km2) estate in Tuscany; and two properties in London: an apartment on The Mall, an 18th-century terrace house in Highgate. He also owns homes in the Caribbean, including one in the upscale community of Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic. Sting was estimated to have a fortune of £180 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 10 richest people in the British music industry.
To keep physically fit, for years Sting ran five miles (8 km) a day and performed aerobics. He participated in running races at Parliament Hill and charity runs similar to the British 10K. Around 1990 he met Danny Paradise who introduced him to yoga, and he later began practising regularly. His practice consisted primarily of an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga series, though now he practices many other forms. He wrote a foreword to the book, written by Ganga White in 2007.
An avid chess player, Sting played Garry Kasparov in an exhibition game in 2000, along with four fellow bandmates: Dominic Miller, Jason Rebello, Chris Botti, and Russ Irwin. Kasparov beat all five simultaneously within 50 minutes. Sting has incorporated some aspects of vegetarianism into his diet, but now he eats meat that he raises.
Sting has declared himself a Hindu in an e-mail interview with Hindustan Times ahead of his concerts in India in aid of Tsunami victims: "I would not consider myself a Christian any longer. My beliefs are much wider than that. I don't believe God is necessarily a Catholic or Islamic or anything else...it's a much larger concept than that..."
In 2002 he won a Golden Globe Award for the song "Until..." from the film Kate and Leopold. Written and performed by him, "Until..." was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Song. In June he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the summer, Sting was awarded the British honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).