Gordon Sumner, popularly known as Sting, has earned 16 Grammy Awards for his work over the years. He's also chalked up an Oscar nomination and inductions into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not bad for a Brit.
In high school, a young Sumner would regularly sneak into clubs to see music. Performances by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and others worked their magic on him. Still, Sumner bounced around through multiple jobs before being trained and working as a teacher. On the side, he played in any jazz band that would have him.
It was during his stint with the Phoenix Jazzmen that he was dubbed Sting after wearing a black and yellow striped sweater.
A 1977 move to London precipitated his meeting of Stewart Copeland and Henry Padovani and the formation of The Police. When Andy Summers replaced Padovani, the trio was locked and loaded. Between 1978 and 1983, the band enjoyed five hit records and six Grammy Awards.
Their swansong turned out to be 1983's Synchronicity. Though the Police never officially disbanded, a conscious choice was made for the guys to pursue solo projects. Sting had, even prior to that, ventured out on his own with a solo performance at and Amnesty International benefit in 1981. Not only did that evening herald Sting's emerging solo career, it also paved the way for his work as an activist and philanthropist in various causes such as Band Aid and Live Aid.
With 1985's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting was officially on his own. The triple-platinum effort featured a cast of jazz heavyweights like Branford Marsalis and it yielded numerous hit singles including “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “Fortress Around Your Heart.”
After contributing to various extracurricular projects, Sting returned with 1987's ...Nothing Like the Sun. More hits ensued, as did two million album sales. He followed that up in 1988 with a five-song selection from the record performed in both Spanish and Portugese. That year he also contributed vocals to an arrangement of "Murder By Numbers" for a Frank Zappa project.
The Soul Cages and Ten Summoner's Tales kept Sting's momentum going. Both efforts spawned successful singles, solid sales, and Grammy recognition. In 1993, Sting also joined Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart in “All for Love,” a song for the film The Three Musketeers which topped the charts for five weeks.
In 1996, on the heels of a less-than-successful outing with Mercury Falling, Sting's work was cut out of a Disney film, The Emperor's New Groove. His wife, Trudie Styler, captured the project's turmoil and turned it into a documentary, The Sweatbox, which was shown at the Toronto Film Festival but not allowed broader release by Disney.
Sting moved into a new musical chapter with 1999's Brand New Day. The triple-platinum, Grammy-winning set included collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Cheb Mami who performed with Sting at the 2000 Grammy Awards ceremony.
Sting's Tuscan villa was the setting for a 2001 live CD/DVD recording that was also simulcast on the Internet. The performance was slated for September 11 and, due to the terrorist attacks of the day, the webcast was cut after only one song: “Fragile.” Sting let the audience determine whether or not to carry on with the show and they choose to proceed.
The following year saw Sting garner a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for his song “Until...” from Kate and Leopold. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
His 2003 collaborations with Mary J. Blige and Anoushka Shankar filled out Sacred Love. The Sting-Blige duet, "Whenever I Say Your Name," nabbed yet another Grammy award. An autobiography, Broken Music, also emerged that year as did a Sacred Love Tour with Annie Lennox and a Broken Music Tour of clubs and colleges.
Sting's 2006 Songs from the Labyrinth met with mixed reviews and was quickly overshadowed by rumors of a Police reunion in 2007. The rumors proved true as Sting, Copeland, and Summers opened the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony and embarked on The Police Reunion Tour that lasted a year and went around the world.
After performing “Brand New Day” with Stevie Wonder as part of President Barack Obama's inauguration night, most of 2009 was filled with the recording and release of “If on a Winter's Night...,” which saw daylight in October of that year. The album received a lukewarm reception from fans and critics.