Born on this day in Newcastle, England, the oldest of four children, Gordon Matthew Sumner (1951-) got the nickname "Sting" from musician Gordon Soloman because he often wore a black and yellow-striped soccer jersey. He started off playing jazz in small pubs.
"The bass player really impressed me," explained Stewart Copeland about his first meeting with Sting. "He just had this golden light shining from the heavens."
With drummer Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers, the trio formed The Police in 1977. Sting played bass, sang lead, and wrote such classic songs as Roxanne, Walking on the Moon, Don't Stand So Close to Me, and Every Breath You Take before going solo in 1982.
"I like to write music as puzzles. I like to enfold as many levels as possible into a song," explained the sensitive songwriter who dedicated Nothing Like The Sun (1987) to his mother who died of cancer during its recording. He lost his father to cancer, right after his mom, and Sting dedicated music from The Soul Cages (1991) to him.
"Music has been a healing influence in my own life," he revealed. "I don't think I'll ever stop singing. I think I'll stop breathing first."
Brand New Day (1999), a Grammy winner that explored the secret language of love with beautiful eloquence, featured the distinctive harmonica of Stevie Wonder and harmonies of James Taylor. In September 2000, the "Englishman in New York" gave a free open-air concert in Central Park for 25,000 fans.
"When you're as rich as I am, you don't have to be political," the former school teacher once said. He and his wife Trudie Styler are environmentalists and activists, most notably devoted to the Rainforest Foundation.