Sting’s Iconic Career and Global Activism: An In-Depth Look into His Controversial Personal Life

2023-10-02 04:17:00
Sting is married to Trudie Styler, his former lover: the wedding was in 1992. They had four children, not intended but loved by him: Mickey, Coco, Jake and Giacomo Luke (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Regardless of the opinion one has about Sting as a musician, the bassist and frontman of The Police, born Gordon Matthew Sumner on October 2, 1951 in England, was always a paradigm of global good causes, of the right-thinking European conscience in the face of the miseries of the third world, of political correctness and, therefore, of predictable phrases and boredom. Almost an English Bono: blonde (well, now almost without hair or with little silver hair), delicate and neat. How can we forget it(s) in the mid-80s on the tours of Band Aid, that British charitable rock & pop dream team founded by Bob Geldof (star of the film “The Wall” and singer of The Boomtown Rats) to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia. They recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984 and “We Are the World” in 1985 with the outline of Africa behind them and the atonement for their bourgeois guilts turned into songs.

And what can we say, for example, about “Russians,” a pacifist anthem that Sting released on “The Dream of the Blue Turtles,” his debut solo album. With those lyrics from 1985, when the Berlin Wall seemed indestructible, he clarified to the leaders of the bipolar world and the Cold War (he mentioned Nikita Krushchev and Ronald Reagan) that he did not believe in their speeches, he repudiated the “toy of the death of Oppenheimer” (the atomic bomb) and finished them off with the verse: “We share the same biology/ regardless of ideology/ What may save me and you/ is that the Russians love their children.” Some will say that it is ancient history. Yes and no. Last year, in the middle of the war in Ukraine, the bassist revived “Russians”, a title that became more precise, since before it was about Soviets. “I have rarely sung this song in the many years since I wrote it. because I never thought I would be relevant again. But, in light of one man’s bloody and wrong decision to invade a peaceful and harmless neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our humanity,” he explained, excited and indignant, in reference to Vladimir Putin. .

Sting in action this year at a recital in Denmark

Love of a prostitute and censorship

Everything didn’t always turn out so well. In 1977, when The Police were an almost unknown trio, he went to play with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland in a Parisian dive or, as Summers said, “to do a shitty little gig with The Damned” (English punk group). Sting went for a walk through the red light district and, from the combination of the prostitutes he saw on the street and the poster for a performance of “Cyrano de Bergerac”, he got the inspiration for “Roxanne”, the name of the female protagonist of the work. “It was the first time he saw prostitution on the streets, and those girls were really beautiful. I had a melody in my head and I imagined being in love with one of those girls,” he declared. He recorded it in 1978: the song – a mix of white reggae with touches of bossa nova and tango spirit – became a pillar of The Police, although, whoops, the BBC sounded the alarm about what was unacceptable and refused to broadcast it.

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Sting interpreta “Roxanne”, el hit de The Police, junto a Branford Marsalis

The beginning of the lyrics were: “Roxanne, you don’t have to turn on the red light/ Those days are over/ You don’t have to sell your body at night/ Roxanne, you don’t have to wear that dress tonight.” These were conservative times, with Margaret Thatcher in power in England. Sting tried to defend himself from the censorship: “Roxanne doesn’t talk about sex. It’s not a dirty song in any sense of the word. It is a song based on reality and with heartfelt lyrics. They refuse to pass her because she talks about a prostitute.” The gatekeepers of political correctness applied a corrective to the champion of political correctness, and in his own land. But Sting would have revenge. In 1979, when The Police began touring their album “Outlandos D’Amour” in the United States, “Roxanne” was the battering ram of success. “Before Roxanne, The Police were just an unknown band. With that song everything started to accelerate, it was like a rocket,” Summers said.

Triangle and unhealthy possession

In 1976, Sting married actress Frances Tomelty, whom he had met in 1974 in the play “Rock Nativity”: she played the Virgin Mary and he played the guitar. During the first years they seemed like an exemplary couple. They had two children, Fuchsia Catherine and Joseph (a curiosity: the musician declared that he did not want to have children and that he had six by accident; although he clarified that he loves them, like the Russians). But then a marital storm broke out: Sting appeared in photos kissing with another woman, also an actress. Not just another woman: the best friend of his wife, Trudy Styler, and the Summers’ next-door neighbor in Notting Hill, London. Sting and Tomelty divorced in 1982. Delicacy served for the bulimic press of the heart. To avoid it, he went into exile in the Caribbean: among turquoise seas, he composed a song that at first listen seemed harmless but that mentioned a case of unhealthy jealousy, possession and harassment within a couple, finished or not. “Every Breath You Take”, one of his biggest hits, begins like this: “Every breath you take, every movement you make, every tie you break, every step you take, I will be watching you. Each and every day, and every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I will be watching you. “Can’t you see that you belong to me?”

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It is true that the world has changed, that we must think from a historical perspective and that art does not necessarily reflect an ideological position. But at that time Sting himself justified himself. Later, he told the origin of the song: “One night I woke up with a start with a verse in my head, I ran to the piano and wrote it in half an hour. The melody, admittedly, is quite generic and similar to hundreds of other songs. I think what is interesting are the words, the verses. It sounds like a comforting love song. Even sweet and cozy, but it is terribly sinister. It has an ambivalent power. I didn’t realize it at the time but a little later. I guess my head was thinking about Big Brother, surveillance and control. In “Every Breath You Take” there is a mixture of light and darkness that undoubtedly reflects the moment he was going through.” The song appeared on the album “Synchronicity”, from 1983, the last of The Police, who, like Sting’s partner(s), were going through a strong internal crisis.

In 1977, when The Police were an almost unknown trio, he went to play with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland in a Parisian dive or, as Summers put it, “to do a shitty little gig with The Damned.”

“People often misunderstand that song. He takes it as a beautiful love song, without understanding what it is really talking about. A couple once stopped me on the street to tell me that they had chosen “Every Breath…” to enter the church during their wedding. I said, ‘Good luck with that,’ and I walked on,” Andy Summers once said. Perhaps guilty and at the same time self-incriminating, Sting attempted to redeem himself on his debut solo album with “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” which goes: “If you want to hold on to a possession/Don’t even think about me/If you love someone/Let it go.” free”.

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The myth of tantric sex

Forty years after releasing “Every Breath You Take,” Sting is married to Trudie Styler, his former lover: the wedding was in 1992. They had four children, unintended but loved by him: Mickey, Coco, Jake and Giacomo Luke. The musician tried not to deviate further from the right path. His greatest audacity was to say that he practiced tantric sex with his wife, in marathons of more than seven hours. To make matters worse, in 2012 he was denied by her, who became a fashion designer. “At one point, Geldof declared himself a three-minute (sex duration) man and that, since Sting did yoga, he would probably do it for hours. Then my husband added: ‘Haven’t you heard of tantric sex? And thus that myth was created that became famous. The tantric hours could be extended depending on the note and suddenly he would be doing it all day. Well, if he could. He said it 21 years ago, completely drunk. He just turned 60. I imagine that the tantric issue will follow him until death,” Styler risked.

He was right. Or he has it, because Sting is still alive and hyperactive. They still ask them both, in every interview, about tantric sex. They would like to talk, instead, about how they work in environmental activism with the Rainforest Foundation, in support of the indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia and South America, and campaign for the cause of organic food. He also launches diatribes against the advance of artificial intelligence in music. They also share a passion for viticulture and sell wines produced by their 350-hectare estate in Tuscany, where they have one of their many mansions. It is estimated that Sting, a boy who worked as a bus driver and office worker before becoming a musician – he won 17 Grammy Awards – has a fortune of 430 million dollars, properties in different countries and a more than clear conscience. On a current tour, called “My Songs,” he revisits songs from his long career.

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