Sting Sumner was born in Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, in northeast England to Audrey Cowell (a Protestant) and her husband, Ernest Sumner (a Catholic via his own mother, Agnes White, whose father was an Irish stevedore). Ernest was a milkman, and raised his children as Roman Catholics.
From an early age, Gordon Sumner knew that he wanted to be a musician. He attended the Roman Catholic St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, in Newcastle upon Tyne, and then the University of Warwick, but did not graduate.
From 1971 until 1974, he attended Northern Counties Teacher Training College. He is the oldest of four children and has a brother, Philip, and two sisters, Angela and Anita.
Before playing music professionally, Sumner worked as a ditch digger and as a music teacher at a Catholic girls' school.
His first music gigs were wherever he could get a job. He played with local jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen and Last Exit.
Origin of nickname
He has stated that he gained his nickname while with the Jazzmen. He once performed wearing a black and yellow jersey with hooped stripes that fellow band member Gordon Solomon had noted made him look like a bumblebee, thus he became "Sting." He uses Sting almost exclusively, except on official documents.
In 1977, Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Henry Padovani (who was very soon replaced by Andy Summers) formed the new wave band The Police in London. The group had several chart-topping albums and won six Grammy Awards in the early 1980s.
Although they jumped on the punk bandwagon early in their career, they soon abandoned that sound in favor of reggae-tinged rock and minimalist pop. Their last album, Synchronicity, which included their most successful song, Every Breath You Take, was released in 1983.
The Police performed together at some of the shows on the 1986 Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope Tour alongside U2 and other artists. Their performances were just for the benefit shows and were not part of an intended permanent reunion.
To help promote a greatest hits album that year they also made a re-recording of a new arrangement of all of their hits. Most were awful and only one deemed worthy to put on the album. The track was 'hidden' as a special bonus track "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" included on the album. Future compliations of the Police do not have this track included.