Sting was born Gordon Matthew Sumner on 2 October, 1951 in Wallsend, North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, England, the eldest of four children of Audrey (Cowell), a hairdresser, and Ernest Matthew Sumner, an engineer and milkman. He received his name from a striped sweater he wore which looked like a bee. He grew up in the turmoil of the ship-building industry and wanted to become a musician very early. He played cruise ships, backing strippers in cabarets, and developed a love for the bass guitar. Having played in jazz/rock bands like "Last Exit" and other various groups, including a dixieland jazz group, he settled down with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers for a decade-long tenure with the smashing rock trio, The Police.
In 1984, he went on to record solo albums, and holds a reputation as one of the most literate songwriters and talented musicians in the world. He has also delved into acting, having starred in such films as Quadrophenia (1979), Radio On (1979), Plenty (1985), Julia and Julia (1987) (aka Julia and Julia), Dune (1984), Bring on the Night (1985) (a documentary about the formation of his Blue Turtles jazz group), most recently, Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets (1995), where he plays a bisexual, conniving butler.
He received an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Northumbria University in October 1992, and from Berklee College of Music in May 1994. He plays guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, piano, harmonica, saxophone and pan-flute, and he gave a name to his bass (Brian).
Sting is married to film producer Trudie Styler, and has six children with Trudie and ex-wife, actress Frances Tomelty. Sting owns a Jacobian castle in Wiltshire, which he calls "Lake House", where he records his albums, as well as a place in London, an apartment in New York, a place on the beach in Malibu, California, and a Renaissance Florentine Villa called "Palagio" in Figline Valdarno, Tuscany, Italy. Along with his wife Trudie and a Brazilian Indian, he started the Rainforest Foundation in 1989 to help save rainforests.