British rock artist/actor Sting came into the world as Gordon Sumner, earning his more famous soubriquet thanks to his predilection for wearing beelike striped shirts. At 17, Sting toured the world as a musical performer on the Princess Cruise luxury-vacation line. He attended Warwick University, then made ends meet as a teacher, income tax clerk, and construction worker before achieving fame as lead singer of the rock group The Police. Following the 1977 release of the Police's inaugural recording Fall Out, Sting was approached by the producers of the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only to costar as the megalomaniac villain. He refused, choosing instead to make his film bow in the more characteristic role of a teen punk in Quadrophrenia (1979). One of his more impressive film appearances was as the enigmatic antihero of the pitch-black comedy Brimstone and Treacle (1982). While filmmaking remains a lucrative sideline for Sting -- his feature films include Dune (1984), The Bride (1985), and Bring on the Night (1986) -- he continues to invest most of his energy into music, winning seven Grammies for his recording work. Though normal film roles grew increasingly sporadic into the 2000s, Sting did still occasionally find the time to indulge his passion for acting in films like Guy Ritchie's 1998 feature debut Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels while earning the occasional Oscar nod for musical work in films like Kate & Leopold and Cold Mountain.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Worked as an English teacher at St. Paul's Primary School in Newcastle, England, in the mid-1970s.
- While he was playing bass with the Phoenix Jazzmen, a fellow band member reportedly nicknamed him Sting because of a yellow-and-black striped sweater he often wore.
- Before forming the Police, played bass in a number of bands, including the Ronnie Pierson Trio, the Newcastle Big Band, the Phoenix Jazzmen and Last Exit.
- First major film role was in 1982's Brimstone & Treacle.
- Cofounded the Rainforest Foundation in 1987 with wife-to-be Trudie Styler after visiting the Amazon rain forest.
- Has received several Brit Awards: for his work with the Police, Best Group (1982) and Outstanding Contribution to British Music (1985); for his solo work, Best Male Solo Artist (1991) and Outstanding Contribution to British Music (2002).
- Was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Police) in 2003.
- Holds honorary degrees from Northumbria University, Newcastle, England (Music, 1992), Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA (1994), and Newcastle University, Newcastle (Music, 2006).