Sting

On this day in 1951, Gordon Matthew Sumner was born in Newcastle, England. As

Sting, Sumner has become one of rock's most accomplished superstars, creating

genre-bending work as a solo artist and as the leader of the late '70s/early '80s band the

Police.

In the early '70s, Sting played bass with a band that performed on Princess Cruises

liners and attended teacher-training college. He also was a member of a number of jazz

outfits, including Earthrise and the River City Jazz Band. While teaching, Sting joined the

Newcastle Big Band, where he earned his nickname by often wearing a bee-like,

yellow-and-black soccer jersey.

In 1977, after a stint in the band Last Exit, Sting formed the Police, with whom he sang

and played bass. The following year, the Police (also including drummer Stewart

Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers) issued their debut album, Outlandos

d'Amour, which spawned the U.S./U.K. hits "Roxanne" and "Can't Stand Losing You."

The Police's second album, the reggae-heavy Reggatta de Blanc (1979), made

the bandmembers superstars in the U.K. with tracks such as "Message in a Bottle" and

"Walking on the Moon." Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) broke the band into the U.S.

top 10, making it massive in America.

After the mega-selling Ghost in the Machine (1981) and the band's most

successful LP, Synchronicity (1984) -- which yielded "Every Breath You Take," the

biggest-selling single of the year -- Sting decided to break up the Police at the height of

their popularity.

Sting then spread his musical wings as a solo act, first with The Dream of the Blue

Turtles (1985), which included hints of classical and jazz. The LP spawned three

U.S. top-10 hits, including "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free."

Sting again collaborated with jazzman Branford Marsalis for ... Nothing Like the

Sun (1987), which also incorporated world-beat aspects. Following its release, Sting

began actively campaigning for Amnesty International and environmentalism, forming

the Rainforest Foundation, which was designed to raise awareness about preserving the

Brazilian rain-forest. In addition, Sting fostered his fledgling acting career by appearing

in films such as "Dune" and on Broadway in "The Threepenny Opera."

The platinum The Soul Cages (1991), featuring the hit "All This Time," continued

to divide critics, some of whom found Sting's work intelligent, while others labeled it

pompous. Ten Summoner's Tales (1993) continued Sting's streak of hit albums,

spawning the hits "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" (which won a Grammy) and "Fields of

Gold."

In 1994, "All for Love," a song Sting recorded with Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams for

"The Three Musketeers" film, went to #1. Mercury Falling, which sold less than

Sting's earlier albums, followed in 1996.

In 1998, Sting sang two versions of the 1929 standard "You Were Meant For Me" on the

soundtrack to the film "The Object of My Affection." Also this year, he contributed to

Waylon Jennings' Closing In On The Fire.

Other birthdays: Ron Meagher (Beau Brummels), 57; Don McLean, 53; Richard Hell

(Television), 49; Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + the Mechanics), 48; Phil Oakey

(Human League), 43; Freddie Jackson, 40; Robbie Nevil, 38; Sigtryggur "Siggi"

Baldursson (Sugarcubes), 36; Claude V. McKnight III (Take 6), 36; and Tiffany, 27.