On this date in 1951, composer, singer, musician, actor and environmental activist Gordon Matthew Sumner (Sting), was born to a milkman and hairdresser in Newcastle, England. Sumner took the name Sting after someone told him he looked like a bee wearing a striped sweater. Sting became a husband and father before turning 20, and then moved to London hoping to launch his musical career. He and two others started the hit band The Police, in 1976. Sting, the lead singer, wrote most of the music and lyrics. The group had early hits including "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle," but they struck musical gold with the 1983 smash hit "Every Breath You Take." Sting began acting in such films as "Quadrophenia" (1979), "Dune" (1984), and "The Bride" (1985). The Police broke up in 1984, and Sting released his first solo album the next year, "The Dream of the Blue Turtles," which was nominated for a Grammy. Sting's activism has persisted throughout his career. Since the 1980s, he has actively supported Amnesty International, and co-founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989, in an effort to save the Brazilian rainforest. He has authored books including Jungle Stories: The Fight for the Amazon (1989), with co-author Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, and Spirits in the Material World (1994), with Pato Banton. In the CD booklet of his Winter Solstice album, "If On A Winter's Night" (2009), Sting twice identifies himself as an agnostic.
" . . . if ever I'm asked if I'm religious I always reply, 'Yes, I'm a devout musician.' Music puts me in touch with something beyond the intellect, something otherworldly, something sacred."
—-Sting delivering a Berklee College of Music commencement address in Boston, May 15, 1994
Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch, with help from Scott Grinstead; Photo by Jaguar PS, Shutterstock.com
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