On Saturday, Sting celebrates his 70th birthday. The man born Gordon Sumner is truly one of rock’s renaissance men, and not just because he literally recorded an entire album of Renaissance-era lute songs in 2006.
Over the years, Sting’s artistry has expanded from fronting the now-legendary new wave band The Police into a thriving solo career, acting on the stage and screen, composing for movies and the theater, collaborating with dozens of artists across multiple musical genres, and working tirelessly for various charitable causes.
With The Police, Sting released five albums, four of which made the list of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Police officially disbanded in 1986 but reunited in 2007 for a hugely successful one-off tour. The Police have sold more than 75 million records, won six Grammys and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Sting launched his solo career in 1985 with The Dream of the Blue Turtles and was immediately successful. He’s continued releasing solo albums at a steady pace, including best-sellers Ten Summoner’s Tales, …Nothing Like the Sun and The Soul Cages. His 15th solo album, The Bridge, is due in November. As a solo artist, he’s won more than 10 Grammys.
Movies & TV
Sting’s acting career started in 1979, when he appeared in not one but two movies, the most famous of which is Quadrophenia, based on The Who‘s 1973 concept album. Since then, he’s acted in films like Dune, Plenty, The Bride, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and appeared as himself in Zoolander 2 among others.
His TV resume includes Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Ally McBeal, The Larry Sanders Show and more.
Sting’s also found great success in writing music for films. He’s been nominated four times for the Best Original Song Oscar, and also either wrote or recorded songs for The Thomas Crown Affair, Leaving Las Vegas, The Three Musketeers and Lethal Weapon 3, among many others.
Sting made his Broadway debut as Macheath, aka Mack the Knife, in a 1989 production of The Threepenny Opera. His original musical, The Last Ship, debuted on Broadway in 2014 and received two Tony nods. In the final weeks before it closed in 2015, Sting also starred in the show.
It’s difficult to find a major musical charity event that Sting hasn’t appeared at in the past 30 years, from Amnesty International-sponsored tours to Live Aid to the 9/11 fundraiser A Tribute to Heroes. However, he’s most associated with the Rainforest Foundation Fund, which he and his wife, Trudie Styler, founded in 1989. It’s since funded projects that have protected 28 million acres of rainforest around the globe.
Sting has also held regular benefit concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall to support the Rainforest Foundation Fund, with star-studded lineups that have included the likes of James Taylor, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Lady Gaga.