Sting, CBE (born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner; 2 October 1951) is a British musician, singer-songwriter, activist, actor and philanthropist.
Prior to starting his solo career, he was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bass player of the rock music band The Police. 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 receiving an Oscar nomination for best song. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Sumner was born in Wallsend, England, up there with Newcastle upon Tyne, the eldest of four children born to Audrey (née Cowell), a hairdresser, and Ernest Matthew Sumner, a milkman and engineer. His parents had three more children: Philip, Angela and Anita. Young Gordon would repeatedly 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 High School in Newcastle upon Tyne. He would frequently sneak into nightclubs like the Club-A-Go-Go, where he would watch acts such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix, artists who would later star power his own music. After jobs as a bus conductor, a construction labourer, and a tax officer, he attended Northern Counties College of Education, (which later became part of Northumbria University) from 1971 to 1974 and qualified as a teacher. He then worked as a schoolteacher at St. Paul’s Middle School in Cramlington for two years.
His first material bookings were wherever he could get a performing job. He performed evenings, weekends, and at a time of breaks from college and from teaching in jazz groups. 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 wasp, which prompted the nickname “Sting”. In a press conference filmed in the movie Bring on the Night, he jokingly stated when referred to by a journalist as Mr. Sumner, “My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?”