Which band has Sting sung for?

Sting: All about The Police Frontman

from editorial staff,

Sting is a British songwriter, bassist and singer who went down in rock history as the frontman for The Police and solo artist. Find out more about his bass playing and his songs!

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Sting & The Police

What was Sting's role in Police?

Sting as a solo star

The bassist Sting

What bass does Sting play?

Sting as a songwriter

Sting discography

Sting & The Police

If you look at the beginning of Sting's career as the front man of The Police, then of course the good old Roxanne ‘catches the eye.

The hit from 1978 marks the beginning of The Police's breathtaking career, in which the three blond-haired boys won what there was to win. , Roxanne ‘represents the two cornerstones of the style that made the sound of this powerful trio: reggae & rock.

Outwardly more than simply structured (verse and chorus in regular alternation), the song shows some special features inside. Simple triads of the Aeolian G minor scale are harmoniously mixed with four-notes, more commonly used in jazz, and which was an almost courageous undertaking at a time when the Sex Pistols and The Clash set the musical direction.

However, above all, Roxanne altet has a great effect in terms of rhythm. The syncopated drum accompaniment of the uniquely playing drummer Stewart Copeland, the band's founder and “discoverer” Stings, is strongly reminiscent of reggae and gives the number its cool and floating rhythm.

Andy Summers ’guitar condenses this image with a reggae-like accompaniment. This verse arrangement is skilfully contrasted in the chorus with a pure rock sound: drums, guitar and bass now play straight forward with pressure and generate steam.

This knitting pattern should also be clear for the following hits. The whole thing packed three times in a row and it was a police hit. In the stanza reggae and in the chorus rock: For the late 1970s, this recipe seemed foolproof and also brought the desired success. "So Lonely", "Can't Stand Loosing You", "Message In A Bottle" or "Walking On The Moon" are probably unforgettable examples.

The Police cleverly and intelligently combined reggae and punk-rock, the most popular music styles of the time, and sold records like bakers their rolls. Nevertheless, these songs have lost none of their effect even today, even if they were produced purely on the outside according to a transparent and market-compatible pattern.

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What was Sting's role in Police?

Sting's important role is particularly evident in the compositions. He wrote texts with content and was able to tell stories in the two to three stanzas of a pop song that worked skillfully with images and symbols and addressed the listener: loneliness, spurned love, political or philosophical issues.

How can you depict a spurned love in a rock number more interestingly and clearly than through the unfulfilled love for the prostitute Roxanne?

The symbol of the shipwrecked person's message in a bottle in, Message In A Bottle ‘is also expressive and shows the theme of loneliness simply and vividly, while a coherent and dense arrangement brings the harmonies floating between A major and C sharp minor to life. And Andy Summers ’popular guitar riff is still one of“ the riffs ”to be clear about the use of nones in an arpeggiated pattern as a young guitarist.

Summers did a similar thing a few years later when he recorded the accompaniment of Every Breath You Take. A riff that Puff Daddy - or now P.Diddy - threw around our ears in the late 90s as a hip-hop recycling product. But it was still convincing. A good song is a good song. Conclusions about Andy Summers ’influence on these two biggest hits by The Police and Sting to date can of course be drawn at this point.

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Sting as a solo star

But even in his time after The Police, Sting cemented his reputation as an exceptional songwriter, especially through the lyrics. If you take a quick look at the beginning of his solo career, you will discover, for example, the song, Russians ‘from 1985, which depicts people's fear of a possible nuclear war on several levels, which was still omnipresent in the 80s.

Lyrically, Sting uses the image of the “evil Russian”, whose Soviet Union was called the “evil empire” by the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and asks whether a Russian also loves his children.

Sting was able to implement this difficult topic in an understandable way without becoming politically agitative - a feat that only a few artists managed to do during this time.

Musically, Sting supports this image of the Russian by using a theme from the music of the Russian composer Sergej Prokofiev for the film "Lieutenant Kijé" - a military film, by the way. So in this song all levels match: the lyrics, the music and also the arrangement. All elements reflect a certain "Russian" atmosphere and take the listener into the world of the former Soviet Union.

If you now take a leap into the present, Desert Rose ‘, it is noticeable that Sting uses a similar way of working here as well. Russia alternates with the Orient and politics with love, but otherwise the parallels in the way of working are obvious.

The atmosphere is kept oriental by the strings and the rai singing of the Algerian singer Cheb Mami, the lyrics of the lyrical self report on the fear of never discovering love for themselves. Sting also strives for images that are immediately associated with the Orient: the desert, the desert rose, paradise and loneliness in the desert. So the song again develops a strong, longing effect and can convince through the harmonious arrangement of the individual elements to a danceable pop song.

Especially since modern sounds from the producer Kipper can link to the late 90s and bring back memories of Madonna's 'Ray Of Light' album.

Music icons among themselves: Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Sting play the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing

So Sting knows how to incorporate elements from many areas into his art. He makes use of ethnic music, rock and pop and a wide range of topics that make his songs stand out lyrically. Some see this as intellectually calculating, while others, to put it bluntly, see it as stealing, since Sting used one or the other line of text and ideas from literature. Or maybe there is simply an alert and interested musical spirit behind it that tries to learn new things over and over again.

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The bassist Sting

This picture also emerges with the bassist Sting, who throughout his career has endeavored to adapt different styles such as reggae, rock, samba, jazz or disco. This applies to his playing style as well as to the sound and choice of instruments. The older reader, who knows Sting as a double bass player, among other things, comes to mind. the Ibanez fretless bass MC 940DS. This also resulted in Sting's unmistakable sound as a bassist, which reflected his love for jazz.

His playing can hardly be called virtuoso, but he has provided the most memorable riffs that didn’t have to hide from those of Paul McCartney or Jack Bruce. 'Walking On The Moon', 'Tea In The Sahara' or 'King Of Pain' are outstanding examples. They carry almost the entire song with the soft fretless sound and the tasteful chorus.

Sting's preference for crooked time signatures such as the 5/4, 7/4 or 9/4 time, which he especially enjoyed in the 90s, shows that he is a rhythmically interested and competent bass player. Technically, they don't particularly challenge the bass player, but rhythmically even more.

As for example the 1993 number, Love Is Stronger Than Justice ‘from the album, Ten Summoner’s Tales shows. This piece is arguably the only country song in 7/4 time that the pop world has ever heard.

And the bass accompaniment has it all with its many syncopations and staccati, especially when you consider that Sting also sings. In The Police, too, in cooperation with Stewart Copeland, rhythmically very complex bass lines were created that were very daring for a pop band, but at the same time also refreshing - sometimes also played with double bass.

As Sting himself once said, he was interested in difficult rhythms and only a law could prevent him from experimenting with them.

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What bass does Sting play?

As far as his equipment is concerned, Sting is more of a traditionalist: His main instrument today (besides the guitar) is his signature ’53 Precision Bass from Fender.

In the early 1950s, the P-Bass looked more like a Telecaster, and today's Reissue model is based on one of the first Fender Precision basses that Sting discovered and fell in love with a few years ago. In recent years, however, he has also been seen playing Fender jazz basses.

The bassist Sting is made up of two components: song-serving and sustaining riffs, as well as rhythmically demanding accompaniments. For example, in the Police song, Spirits In The Material World ‘from the record, Ghost In The Machine‘ from 1981.

Here Sting plays a real kamikaze bass in the verse, in which the existence of the one in a 4/4 time is simply denied. A nice example to transcribe for bassists interested in rhythm. And try to sing along with it ... 🙂 Have fun!

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Sting as a songwriter

What more can you say about an artist like Sting. A lot! In any case, it is also certain that opinions often differ about him and that he has always been strongly polarized. He provided some of the best lyrics and songs in pop history, but their impression was immediately neutralized by ludicrous refrain lines like "De Doo Doo Doo, De Daa Daa Daa".

Sting live at a concert with The Police and the song De do do do de da da da:

As a singer he managed to make the “ljojo” suitable for the hit parade and at the same time to establish the crystal clear and strikingly high voice. In addition to the irresistible melodies of Sting's songs, the lyrics seem to be important. Only a few from his pen say nothing or just appear to be written down.

Big appearance on his 60th birthday - together with Branford Marsalis he performs Consider me Gone:

Autobiographical and historical references are almost omnipresent and testify to a strong identification of the writer with the song and the text. Perhaps this is an incentive for young songwriters to think again about lyrics, because this is one of the most important elements in pop-rock music today as it was yesterday.

What actually makes a good text? What can I say with which pictures? What stylistic devices are available to me? Sting has obviously thought about it a lot and it will be interesting to see what he will ponder in the near future.

In his private life, Sting has found happiness with British actress Trudie Styler for over 30 years:

(Written by Christian Jahl, published in Guitar & Bass 08/2002)

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Sting discography

Solo albums

  • 1985: The Dream of the Blue Turtles
  • 1987:… Nothing Like the Sun
  • 1988:… Nada como el sol
  • 1991: The Soul Cages
  • 1993: Ten Summoner's Tales
  • 1996: Mercury Falling
  • 1999: Brand New Day
  • 2003: Sacred Love
  • 2006: Songs from the Labyrinth
  • 2009: If on a Winter’s Night ...
  • 2010: Symphonicities
  • 2010: Symphonicity +3
  • 2013: The Last Ship
  • 2016: 57th & 9th
  • 2018: 44/876 (with Shaggy)

Police albums

  • 1979: Outlandos d’Amour
  • 1979: Reggatta de Blanc
  • 1980: Zenyattà Mondatta
  • 1981: Ghost in the Machine
  • 1983: Synchronicity

Jamaica-Felling: Sting recorded the new album 44/876 together with Shaggy - here the song Don't Make Me Wait:

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