Interview: ICON (1999)

December 01, 1999

The following article by Dana Shapiro appeared in the January 2000 issue of Icon magazine...

Why being one of the world's biggest pop stars can be fun and fulfilling, even though that label can be kind of silly and meaningless. And why there was no competition for groupies after Police shows.

Sandy Sternshein sings Sting songs in the shower. He tells me this when asked which modern musician he thinks has the best voice. Sternshein, a 52-year-old dentist drives a Porsche and stays away from fatty foods, is a friend of my dad's. My dad's in real estate, lives in suburban Boston and says his favourite Sting song is Roxanne, but when he sings it, he's actually imitating Eddie Murphy singing it in '48 Hrs'. Sandy likes that movie too. Neither of them, however, like Puffy's version of 'Every Breath You Take'. They don't like the rap music very much.

Sting (born Gordon Sumner) prefers French rap to American, saying, "I think the subjects are more interesting. French rappers are much more erudite, much more serious about political issues. I think American rap is a little bit right-wing and terribly fascist. I don't buy it. I don't buy any of that." As for Puffy, Sting didn't know much about the budding impresario when he asked to borrow the Police's most popular hit (which, like all the other Police hits, was written by Sting).

"He chose that song to commemorate his friend, Notorious B.I.G., which touched me, actually,' Sting says. 'The song had a certain emotional valency for me when I wrote it, so for him to hear that and then reinterpret it for his own life, I was very touched by it. Elton John called me up and said, 'Oh, you're going to have this huge hit.' I said, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah, Puff Daddy's recording it,' and I said, 'Who?' He said, 'Yeah, he's doing this thing about the Notorious B.I.G. It's gonna be a massive hit.' Sure enough, three months later it's this huge hit. And that song, if you count his version and the Police's version, has been number one longer than any other song in the history of the U.S. charts. I enjoy that kind of statistic; that's fun."

Stewart Copeland, founder and drummer of the Police, doesn't like any of Puffy's stuff, but when asked if he likes the royalty checks he receives when people borrow Police songs, he says, 'Damn tootin'!' "The funny thing is," Copeland continues, "to be a bitch here for a minute on somebody else's behalf - what Puffy took was not the lyric, not the vocal, not the bass line, not the melody. What he took was Andy [Summers]'s guitar lick, which Andy wrote. Sting didn't write that guitar part - that's one of Andy's. 'Message in a Bottle', Sting wrote that guitar part, and Andy just played Sting's part. But 'Every Breath You Take', that's Andy's, and it was that guitar arpeggio that was the meat of Puffy's hit. And that's what all the fights were about; we would battle with Sting just to piss on his tracks, to make it ours. Originally Sting wrote 'Every Breath You Take' as a Hammond organ piece, sort of like a gospel-spiritual thing. Now, the organ version would have been a smash hit anyway, just between you and me. You can't fuck up a song like that. But Andy did come up with that guitar part, which made it even better."

In the mostly empty audience at Radio City Music Hall, on the morning of the 67-year-old theater's grand re-opening (it's been closed for seven months for extensive renovations), there are big seat cards marking the spots for some of tonight's guests: Billy Crystal, Peter Boyle, 98', Christian Slater, Connie, Maury. Technicians and stagehands are setting things up, going over lighting procedures and volume checks, and various other organisers are walking around, making sure tonight's historic celebration (also a benefit for pancreatic cancer research) goes off without any bloopers. Standing on the back left part of the stage is a Rockette who looks as if she's about to wet her pants (and who looks significantly older than you'd expect a Rockette to look). She's holding a camera and looking out towards centre stage, where she'll be dancing later this evening, along with featured performers like Ann Miller, Tony Bennett, and Liza Minnelli. At the moment, though, Sting is out there, practising the song he'll play tonight, 'Brand New Day', the title track from his new album. 'You're the magnet to my pole / I'm the devil in your soul / You're the pupil, I'm the teacher / You're the church and I'm the preacher,' he sings to the name cards in the audience.

The Rockette believes every word. She doesn't blink, except to blush, and when she does, a man standing behind her jokingly says, 'I'm gonna tell your husband,' to which she replies, 'He already knows, believe me.' There are about nine people standing backstage, listening to the music, watching Sting, and most of them are grooving or clapping, tapping a foot or two, but this woman is really getting into it, closing her eyes, biting her bottom lip, and smiling, smiling, smiling. 'He's just so classy,' she says to a friend, who nods along in agreement. The Rockette is trying to find a straight shot to the singer, so she can take his picture, 'otherwise no one will believe me,' she says.

Sting finishes the song and starts walking towards his anxious fan. She tenses up as the space between them gets smaller; she braces herself, but just as he's about to reach her, an older, Asian woman blurts in, breaking the, moment and swiping the first photo op. Sting puts his arm around the giddy woman and stands proudly in front of her camera. 'I'm wet dreaming,' she says, smiling wide. A few people squint at her comment. Sting smirks, unhands her, and says, "There's no response to that." Now it's the Rockette's turn. She sidles up to her man, standing stiff as a bride-groom ornament on a wedding cake. Her friend snaps the shot. The Rockette doesn't move. Her friend snaps another, just to make sure.

And now Sting wants to go home, on foot (he hates limos), through Central Park, to the Upper West Side apartment he bought from Billy Joel in 1990. As we exit Radio City, a sweet little woman in her early 6os approaches Sting and says: 'Excuse me? I hope to see you New Year's Eve at the Jacob Javits Center.'

"Oh, you do?" says Sting.

'You are coming, aren't you?' says the woman, with expectation behind her glasses.

"Of course I am," says Sting. "If you're going to be there, I'll be there."

The woman smiles warmly and continues on her way. Sting laughs and says, "That's my demographic."

It's always difficult finding a fresh angle on a person who's been written about thousands of times. It's 1991: What is Sting? In my opinion, Sting is, and always has been, a genetically-engineered, perfectly-formed pop star: eccentric but not decadent, immensely talented but not at all revolutionary, aggressive but not dangerous. And the fact that he always resists being called a pop star only increases the longevity of the label. "I have absolutely no interest in pop music," Sting says - "at all." See, he just can't help it! His hooks are catchy, women dig him. And it all comes so naturally (well, he does highlight his hair).

I could go on about how the Police were perhaps the most efficient popsters in history, becoming the world's biggest band six years after they met each other, or how Sting walked away from it all to become perhaps the most successful solo artist ever to leave a successful band (kind of like Ozzy Osbourne; nothing like David Lee Roth). Unfortunately, that story's been told, many times, in many formats. So given the obvious requirement for being a pop star (popularity), I decided to take my angle-search to the streets. The day before I first met Sting (backstage at 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show', where he was performing that morning), I devised a Mad Libs style poll, a single-question questionnaire to find out how people perceive the mono-named chart-topper 20 years after they first heard 'Roxanne'.

'Finish this sentence,' I said to a variety of men and women: 'Sting is a(n)

Here are some of the more provocative answers (excluding 'babe' and 'hottie' and 'genius,' which came up a lot) and what the man himself had to say about them.

Pretentious wanker..

"I'm not pretentious. That comment can't hurt me because it's not true. People are going to say all kinds of shit about you. I'm the least pretentious person you'll ever meet, frankly."

You caught a lot of flak for that Nabokov reference in 'Don't Stand So Close to Me'.

"Oh, what a crime, what a terrible crime to mention Nabokov in a song. How dare he? What a bunch of shit. I really can't take them seriously."

Latter day saint..

"I think there's a freedom in living between extremes in other people's beliefs about you. Some people might believe you're a pretentious wanker and some people might believe you're some sort of latter day saint, you know? Of course, neither are true, but I would never contradict them. Really, I'm quite happy for these things to be said because in the middle I have my freedom. Believe what you like, I don't really care."

Aspiring thespian..

"I've never acted in my life. I've been in movies; I've never acted. I never trained as an actor, and I could never seriously say I'm an actor. A celebrity in films, that's a different thing."

Tree-hugging perfect-worlder..

"People who want to create a perfect world are very dangerous people. They're always the victim of hubris. I think Hitler had an idea for a perfect world... and Stalin. Terrorists are perfectionists in the way they want to create a perfect world in their image. That means that the world would be better if everybody with a fez were dead, or all the Jewish people are dead, or all the Arabs are dead. It's crazy. So, no, I'm not a perfect-worlder by any means. I think the world could be improved, but it will never be fair. At the moment I'm into trying to create a lifestyle that treads lightly on the earth and doesn't abuse it. But I travel in planes and I have a car, so I'm as guilty as anyone, I'm sure, as far as taxing resources."

Fame seeker..

"I really need to be more famous [laughs]. I think that, on a practical level, if you feel you can make a difference, even in a small way, then you should do that; you shouldn't be afraid of people taking a pop at you. You know, you put your head above the trench and somebody might try to chop it off. I'm not afraid of that. I'm really not. I feel if I have something to say, or something useful to do, I'll do it."

Tantric sex god..

"Well, Trudie [Styler, his wife] has given up tantric sex - she's doing tantric shopping now."

As you can see, Sting is a slippery target, a seasoned interviewee, like Madonna, who shrugs off pigeon holes and admits to shrugging them off. "It's my job to try and avoid that process of being labelled and giving people an easy handle on me. It's exactly what I'm trying to avoid."

So would you say that Sting is first and foremost a songwriter?

"No. I'm a singer first. I don't think I'd write songs that I couldn't sing. If I didn't have a vehicle for my songwriting I wouldn't bother... I see myself singing, hopefully, when I'm much older. I want to do that. But I don't know that I'll become Liza Minnelli or Tony Bennett."

Yesterday, October 2nd, was Sting's 48th birthday. He says he's not familiar with Britney Spears or any of the current boy bands, and he thinks it would be a little strange if a 48-year-old man was. The last movie he saw was 'The Sixth Sense' - he thought it was 'terrifying' and that Bruce Willis gave his best performance yet. He was horribly disappointed by 'The Phantom Menace'. The last album he listened to was Brian Eno's 'Music for Airports'. As a child, he watched a lot of Westerns, but he doesn't watch much TV anymore. He doesn't like sushi. He likes Arthur Miller better than Henry Miller and thinks that Marilyn Monroe is an underrated actress. He reads a lot of books about religion, but says he never reads when he's on the toilet. He doesn't think he's a genius. He thinks Bob Dylan is a genius (as well as Bach and Ravel), but not a rebel (he thinks Stravinsky's a rebel).

"For me, rock & roll and rebellion is an oxymoron," Sting says. "It's one of the most reactionary music forms ever. It just confirms and conforms with something as simple as the lowest common denominator. There's nothing rebellious about that. For me, I just think that this rebellious stance is a pose. And it's very transparent to me. But you know, again, I'm 48."

Does it bother you if people describe your solo music as being middle-aged or middle-brow?

"If people are saying that I don't give a f***," Sting says. "It's sort of a scattershot technique really. I'm not aiming for any particular, specific demographic when I make music. My philosophy about music is that it's for everybody. It should be a unifying force in society. It's often in this modern world used to separate people: "I like heavy metal, so I don't like anything else. This is good music, everything else sucks." I think that's bad for music, it's bad for society. So in a way, I'm happy when older people come to the shows, or young people, I don't mind. I make music for myself. I do it to amuse myself. Whether other people like it or not is beside the point. I mean, it's nice, but..."

Sting may now say that he only makes music for himself but in the mid-'70s, he was on a quest to make music for as many people as possible. Stewart Copeland, who was then the drummer for the proggish band Curved Air, had similar goals but a different philosophy about how to attain them. Sting believe, that if he built it, they would come while Stewart was trying to emulate the successful buildings of the day. And when he stopped by a Newcastle pub to check out a local band called Last Exit he saw his potential ticket in the smoothness of Sting's bass, face, a voice. The next day, Copeland asked Sting to join his would-be punk band the Police, of which he was the only member (soon after, guitarist Henri Padovani was hired).

"Sting always was the face of the group," recalls Copeland, "even though I take full credit for forming the group and the whole concept of the group. The actual concept included the charismatic frontman."

Sting filled that slot?

"Yeah. Well, no. That's very clever for me to say after the fact. It actually took a while for that to dawn on me. Because first he was a bass player that could sing a bit. It wasn't until we actually started playing the Police shows and we could see how he looked in the pictures and said, 'Man, that guy's got the bone structure there's something about the way his hair stands up in the front - everything - that's going to make us rich and famous."

Stewart, who saw the band as equal parts business and art, says he called the group the Police because "that was the fashion of the day, to have a band name that was very uncosy, to have plenty of unlove. It should be a punk band-abso-f***ing-lutely. To join the band you gotta cut your hair, lose your bell-bottoms, and espouse punk ideology, punk rhetoric."

Just because it was fashionable?

"I would put it in a different way, but because it was fashionable at the time was exactly the reason. But I would put it a slightly different way. I would say there was a wave at the time and that non-punk music was dead."

Sting never seemed like much of a punk.

"As I'm sure he would say, it was a marriage of convenience. He just saw me as somebody who had a lot of energy and was on a mission, and he didn't have anything particularly better to do at the time. He had a few other possible irons in the fire, but nothing really happening, and the Police was at least active. That was my job everyday, to call Sting with progress: 'Okay Sting, we've got a photo session,' or 'Okay, Sting, we've got a gig,' or 'I was just talking to this journalist' - something, at least the appearance of forward movement... The thing about Sting is, he can say that success really didn't change him. He was a rat prick right from the beginning [laughs]. It was really obvious, anyone could see it - that's why everyone was trying to steal him! He had that golden ray of sunshine coming down out of the heavens, lighting him up. You couldn't miss it."

One of these potential thieves was Mike Howlett, former bass player of Gong, who was trying to start up a new band called Strontium 90. He invited Sting to a session, and after Howlett's drummer cancelled, Copeland was invited to take his place. "Strontium 90 was a strange band, and I suppose it was one of the strands of DNA that made the Police," Sting says, because the guitarist for Strontium 90 was Andy Summers, a well-paid session man who had worked with the Soft Machine, Zoot Money, and Neil Sedaka. At the time of the meeting, however, no lightbulbs appeared above Copeland's head.

The three boys travelled with Howlett to Paris for a Gong reunion festival, and finding themselves short of material, Sting and Copeland threw in a couple of Police songs. When they came back, the Police did a show in London and Summers jumped up on stage - knowing two Police songs, he was able to jam along. "The next day I run into Andy on Oxford street," recalls Copeland, "and he says, 'Hey, Stewart, let's chat,' and he pulls me into a cafe. He says, 'Look, you and Sting, you've got something, you've got talent. You need me in your band. I accept.'"

Summers perfectly completed the trio, having the one key ingredient that the duo lacked: virtuosity. He gave Sting the confidence and the outlet to write the songs that he wanted to write. "Andy certainly gave the band an edge as far as experience went and as far as a reservoir of musical knowledge," says Sting. "He was a very knowledgeable guy about music. He had an edge which I was very happy with, very grateful for."

On August 18, 1977, seven months after Stewart, Sting, and Padovani had their first rehearsal together, the Police as we know them played their first show (to a very small audience) in London. Two months later, after a disastrous gig at the Nashville in Paris, Sting wrote 'Roxanne' about one of the hookers he saw roaming the streets in the red light district. The song was originally written as a sort of bossa nova, but Copeland suggested switching the emphasis to the second beat, and that white reggae sound was hatched (Copeland had obviously been following the success of bands like the Clash and the Slits). Soon after, Sting wrote 'Can't Stand Losing You', but when both songs failed to crack the U.K. top 40, the Police took the advice of Stewart's band-manager brother, Miles (who took up managing the Police, and has stuck with Sting to this day), and headed for America. First stop, CBGB, where Television, the Ramones, and Talking Heads got their starts.

"It was a big moment," recalls Sting. "I'd never been in America before. We arrived at night, in the dark, and drove straight to the Bowery, and there was steam coming out of the streets, and bums everywhere, and it kind of looked very hostile. And we arrived at this club, which looked like the end of the world, to do a show. And people seemed to like it."

The trio was picking up buzz, and the club tour that followed allowed them to return to London as conquering heroes. They followed the American tour with an extensive college tour of England, and in 1978 they released their first album, 'Outlandos d'Amour', which was given a swift boost by the rerelease of 'Roxanne' and 'Can't Stand Losing You'. In a truly synergistic press moment, Sting's image was being used all over London to advertise the movie 'Quadrophenia', in which he had a small role as a gang leader, appropriately called Ace Face. A month later, the Police scored their first No. 1 hit with 'Message in a Bottle'. The rest of the trip to the top was swift and smooth (except for the notorious fights between band members), every year spawning another hit album. 'Reggatta de Blanc' went to the top of the British charts, led by the single 'Walking on the Moon', then the same thing happened a year later with 'Zenyatta Mondatta', and again the following year with 'Ghost in the Machine'. When 'Synchronicity' was released in 1983, 'Every Breath You Take' and 'King of Pain' ruled the radio waves as well as the fledgling MTV network, and the band sold out 70,000 seats at New York's Shea Stadium. And then, just as Copeland's concept for a supergroup was surpassing even his most ambitious business plans, Sting walked away from the whole thing in favour of a glossy version of jazz-rock fusion, the success of which would prove that his pop credentials were dipped in platinum.

"To fill Shea Stadium - that concert sold out in two hours - there's a history there," Sting says. "We emulated to a large extent what our role models did [he's talking about the Beatles]. After that it's not adventurous anymore. I'd rather start again."

What were all the legendary fights about?

"Just young men with too much testosterone. And also caring passionately about the music and having a plan. You know, also, I wrestled the band out of Stewart's control for my own agenda."

What was your agenda?

"My agenda? I just thought that I knew how to make the band successful. And I did.

What was the formula?

"There was no formula, it was just an instinct. I think Stewart wanted to sort of copy what the punk bands were doing, and what all the new wave bands were doing. That was the main raison d'detre of the band for him. It wasn't really my interest, and I thought that if we changed the emphasis slightly we'd have something unique, and we wouldn't be aping some other music form. That excited me and that's what we did."

You wrote most of the songs that people associate with the Police.

"I wrote all of them, actually."

Asked about his involvement in the recently-made 'Behind The Music' (about Sting, not the Police), Copeland says, "I had to put on, like, six overcoats and several pairs of shades to embark on that kind of show, you know? It's like, 'Oh no! Don't open that door, don't open that door!" As you can see (and hear), Copeland is a very level-headed guy, funny, talented, and while he freely explains why there were many fights about the democratic process of songwriting, he says there was never any competition over groupies. "There's 500 of them out there, what's to compete over?" he wonders. "You take 300 of them, I'll take 100 of them, that still leaves 99 too many. The only competition was over breakfast the next morning, in regaling each other with the adventures and truth is stranger than fiction. I certainly didn't elaborate and I believe Andy and Sting didn't either."

What kind of adventures?

"The shit that happened was so exotic and so strange that if I had made it up, my imagination isn't as exotic as some of the strange stuff that happened."

You're going to tell me some exotic stories, right?

"No, not even a one. I'm married, I've got seven children."

You can be vague about the details.

"Imagine all of the evils, temptations, and stuff of rock & roll. Yes, it was there, yes, we partook of all of it, and we survived it all, it's safely in the memory banks. But no, you're not going to gets any details. Just take your imagination and multiply it by ten and that's pretty much where it was at. I just can't give you any anecdotes."

"Hello, Frank," Sting says to a slender young man as we walk into the kitchen of his Upper West Side apartment. "I'd like a cup of tea with some honey". Sting's kitchen, like the rest of his duplex, is perfectly normal, and seemingly perfect in every way. There are fresh sunflowers on the table, a view of Central Park, a watercooler, bronze pots and pans hanging above a spotless stove, fresh muffins baked by his youngest son, Giacomo (almost four years old), a game of scrabble above a bookcase, a bulletin board covered thick with pictures, and a ceramic jar on the counter with the word 'string' written on it (Sting is not sure whether it actually contains string).

We sit down at the table and start talking about Rudolph Giuliani. Sting was supposed to perform an acoustic set for the New York mayor, but. he cancelled the show because of Giuliani's tirade against the Brooklyn Museum of Art for hosting the 'Sensation' art show, a controversial exhibit of British artists that features Chris Ofili's now-infamous dung-splattered Madonna painting. "I think he's wrong," Sting says of Guiliani. "He's the mayor, he's not an art critic. Art is meant to provoke, you know, it's meant to change the way we look at things. They're not pieces of art I would particularly like to have in my house, but I understand what the aim is, I find the Madonna picture actually very beautiful."

As we're talking, in walks a mini-Sting, blond and British with a dark-haired nanny in tow. "Hey, Giacomo," Sting says to his son (he has six kids, two with his first wife, Frances Tomelty, four with current wife Trudie Styler). "Hello, baby," Sting coos. The kid comes over and picks up the tape recorder. "Do you know what that is?" asks Sting, real daddy-like. "That's a tape recorder."

Giacomo picks up the recorder like a microphone and starts talking into it. "What's your name?" he says. "What's your name?" "Sing Brand New Day, Sting requests. "It's a brand new day," sings Giacomo, on key. "The promise of a brand new day."

I make a remark about their resemblance to each other and Sting smiles: "He does look like me."

Giacomo loses interest in the tape recorder and wanders off. Frank returns from somewhere with two lovely plates of food: fish, potatoes, beets, and spinach, all in a creamy dill sauce - very healthy, very nicely arranged. "Poor animal, dredged out of the sea," says Sting before plunging into the fish, eating everything on his plate, quickly. Surrounded as we are by a rich, domestic bliss, I ask Sting if he thinks he could have achieved it all without the Police.

"No, absolutely not," he says. "I think the Police are responsible for my position now, my career. I'm very grateful and very realistic about that. It took the Police to vault me into the world of fame and power and success."

What do you like about being so famous?

"On one level, you walk out on-stage in front of 20,000 people and they are all very pleased to see you. That is a nice feeling. You go out on the street and people say, 'Oh, I'm going to see your show,' or 'I love your record.' It's not unpleasant. I mean, that's not the reason I walk around in the streets, hoping to glean some kind of affection, but I wouldn't hide away from it. I don't want to. I think it's a poor reward for success to hide yourself away, even behind sunglasses or bodyguards."

Everybody calls you Sting - your fans, your family, your friends. Is there a difference between the Sting on the stage and the Sting in the kitchen?

"You know, the famous guy Sting doesn't turn up in the house. Dad turns up at the house. That's important. At least I try and make sure that he doesn't. Sometimes he escapes, but he's monitored."

Do you think it's easier to age gracefully as a solo musician, as opposed to being in a band like the Rolling Stones?

"It's easier to mature as a separate artist - solo artist, for want of a better word - than to be a member of a group and the perceived gestalt. This is what the Rolling Stones are. And essentially they're a teenage gang, a street gang now. The male bonding thing atmosphere. Well, it's hard to grow old in that. You know, the thing about maturity is that you leave the gang and you stand on your own. So to be in a band at that age is tough. No criticism; I think they're wonderful. I like Mick a lot. But I think I've got it easier."

Do you think pop music was more important or more respected in the 196Os?

"At the time pop music was much more influential than it is now; it seemed to be more important to society as a whole. If you asked a man on the street in '69 or '68, 'What's the number one song this week?, most of them would know it. Ask a man on the street now, nobody cares. I don't. I'm in the business and I have no idea who these people are. I'm not saying that because I'm necessarily proud of the fact, I just simply don't know. And I'm as close to it as anybody."

As a 48-year-old man with six kids and a wife, how do you deal with women throwing themselves at you?

"Well, you know, I'm a man, and like most men, I'm a dog [laughs]. You meet a woman and part of you is assessing. That's perfectly natural, you know. I don't necessarily have to follow those instincts, or even demonstrate them. I would like to think that I'm a perfect gentleman when it comes to women. I like to flirt. It's fun to flirt. You know, I'm happily married, but allowed to look."

Were drug problems ever a by product of fame and success, especially in the '80s?

"I experimented with drugs, but I'm not an addictive personality, so I've never really felt I had a drug problem. I took cocaine and I got bored with it very quickly. It seemed to make stupid people think they were clever. I'm talking about myself here [laughs]. I very quickly tired of it. It's a tiresome drug and I'm appalled when I hear people are still using it."

What about pot?

"Pot? Is that a drug?"

After Frank has cleared the table, Sting and I get in the elevator where a woman is standing next to her baby daughter who's sitting comfortably in a carriage. Obviously, the woman recognises Sting. The baby couldn't care less. 'One day I'm gonna tell her about this moment, and she's gonna be, like, no way!' says the woman to Sting, who takes the compliment in stride, then walks out into the street. There's a car outside his building, waiting for him, but Sting says he wants to walk (he's going to the studio to rehearse with his band for his upcoming tour).

As we walk downtown, a man with a street- cutting machine gets very happy when he sees Sting. This guy wasn't singing Roxanne or anything, but if he was, it would be exactly what Sting had hoped to achieve from the very beginning. And it happens a lot, people singing Roxanne at him when he walks by. "When people sing it to me I get¬Ö I feel good," Sting says. "It's in that guy's head, I like that. Then you know you've made it. It's exciting, you've entered someone else's consciousness, and it's a thrill."

That's what being first and foremost a singer can get you. Of course, only if you're a popular singer. Construction workers aren't walking up to Brian Eno and humming a few bars from 'Music for Airports'."

© Icon magazine


Nov 17, 1999

Putting the music first; Sting: The lyrics came last on the prolific songwriter's newest offering, 'Brand New Day'. For the fans, Sting has always been a musician's musician, the kind of player whose confidence and ability seemed worlds away from the garage-band amateurism of many rock stars. It isn't just that the former Police-man is a multi-instrumentalist, handling not only bass and guitar but also keyboards and (for a while) saxophone; he's also a jack of all styles, being as well-versed in jazz and classical music as he is in rock...

Nov 14, 1999

Sumner Holiday - Sometimes even Q needs a break. Usually this means a week in a prefab on Selsea Bill, but this year Signor Sting - Tuscan summer host to the Blairs, Madonna, Dustin Hoffman and Christy Turlington - put us up. The price? Losing at chess. "My house," he tells Adrian Deevoy. "I'll do what I want..."