Sting . . . a man known merely by a single syllable? Hardly. Depending on your viewpoint of pop culture, he can be the English professor-turned Police frontman. The solo artist who still frolics in fields of gold and builds fortresses around the heart. The stiff but sexy actor. The man responsible for making us all Google "lute." And perhaps even a sexual genius. Let's separate some of the fact from the fiction. Compiled by Steve Spears, Times staff writer
He was born Gordon Matthew Sumner in Wallsend, England, near Newcastle upon Tyne. How that turned to Sting isn't so simple and there are various reports. The most popular version is that "Sting" came about early in his career, reportedly when he took to the stage with the Phoenix Jazzmen wearing a black and yellow striped sweater or jersey, giving him the appearance of a bee or wasp. The band's trombonist is generally given credit for making the connection and calling him Sting.
In 1986, when a journalist addressed him as Gordon in a news conference, Sting jokingly replied, "My children call me Sting. My mother calls me Sting. Who is this Gordon character?"
Sting has dabbled with acting throughout his musical career. He first appeared on the big screen in 1979's Quadrophenia. Other notable appearances are Brimstone & Treacle (1982) and The Bride (1985 ), after the Police had called it quits. His latest acting credit was voicing the character "Sting" in 2007's Bee Movie.
Sting is probably best remembered, though, for his villainous turn as "Feyd-Rautha" in the 1984 movie Dune, a cult flick that is probably best known for Sting's very revealing attire.
"The most interesting thing about Sting playing Feyd-Rautha is that Sting is playing Feyd-Rautha," one movie critic wrote on the Internet. "Sure it's interesting to see Sting . . . acting like some heavy-metal throat slashing maniac, but if it were any other 'actor' he'd be considered an over the top ham without a scary facial expression to cash in on the creepiness with."
THE TANTRIC SEX EXPERT
And now, what you were really waiting for: What about the rumors that Sting is a tantric sex expert who can make love for seven hours straight with wife Trudie Styler?
We're sorry to say it was all just a joke. The Sunday Times of London in 2004 finally got to the bottom of the source of this epic tale. Turns out Sting was at a dinner party with Bob Geldof (of Live Aid fame) and U2's Bono.
"We were chatting and talking about having hours of sex. It then became really a joke which went around the world like a forest fire," Sting told the newspaper. "I went along with it. It's fun, but it's all Geldof's fault."
Trudie didn't help matters that same year when she appeared on Howard Stern's radio talk show and professed that she and Sting enjoyed wife-swapping. A few days later, she admitted she was just joking.
Information from the Associated Press, the Guardian, BBC and the Sunday Times of London was used in this report.