In 1992, Night Flight probed the inner-workings of Sting, “the thinking person’s rock star”

By on August 10, 2018

“Tonight, we’re going to probe the inner-workings of the thinking person’s rock star, Sting,” says host Tom Juarez in his introduction to our video profile, which featured a few essential Police hits and several of Sting’s solo deep cuts.

Watch this 90-minute syndicated episode from 1992 — which also features Night Flight’s “Video Profile: Genesis” — on Night Flight Plus.

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Pat Prescott:

“Born Gordon Sumner in 1952 in the British coal-mining town of Newcastle, today he’s better known as Sting. By the age of twenty, Sting was dedicated to jazz and American drummer Stewart Copeland discovered the vocalist/bass player performing with Newcastle combo Last Exit. The two met guitarist Andy Summers in France, and formed the Police.”

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“So Lonely” features lyrics Sting had recycled from a Last Exit song “Fool in Love,” but you can also hear how they ripped off Bob Marley‘s “No Woman, No Cry.”

The song’s video, directed by Derek Burbidge, shows the band, circa 1980, walking around the streets of Hong Kong, and talking of walkie-talkies on subway trains in Tokyo, Japan.

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Pat Prescott: “Early on, Sting was recognized as a scholarly musician for elevating pop lyrics with classical and literary allusions.”

“In ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me,’ Sting creates a modern-day Lolita. The tune which was also used for a British deodorant commercial.”

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In 1981, Sting said this:

“I wanted to write a song about sexuality in the classroom. I’d done teaching practice at secondary schools and been through the business of having fifteen-year-old girls fancying me – and me really fancying them! How I kept my hands off them I don’t know… Then there was my love for Lolita, which I think is a brilliant novel. But I was looking for the key for eighteen months and suddenly there it was. That opened the gates and out it came: the teacher, the open page, the virgin, the rape in the car, getting the sack, Nabokov, all that.”

Pat Prescott: “In 1981, following the release of their third LP, the Police pursued solo projects. Sting took on one of his first acting roles.”

“There was rumor of a Police break-up, but the band re-grouped to create their celebrated 1983 release, Synchronicity. Keyboards and synthesizers made the band sound more sophisticated, revolving more than ever around Sting’s vocals, songwriting, and abilities as a frontman.”

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Andy Summers reportedly hated the video for “Wrapped Around Your Finger” (it was directed by Godley & Creme, who also directed the video for “Every Breath You Take”).

He’s quoted in Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks’ I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution as saying:

“I was kind of pissed off about that one. I’ve never been much of a fan of that song, actually. Sting got to shoot his part last in that video and made a meal of knocking all the candles out. Fuck him.”

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Pat Prescott: “In 1983, the Police released ‘Every Breath You Take.’ While most people think it’s a soulful love song, Sting himself calls the tune ‘nasty, a song about surveillance, ownership, and jealousy.'”

The video — shot in black & white and loosely based on Gjon Mill’s 1944 short film, Jammin’ the Blues — was played in such heavy rotation on MTV that even their biggest fans began vomiting upon hearing its first few notes.

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Sting may have been the thinking person’s rock star, but we think Summers was the most honest:

“I never liked any of our videos. We were always made to look bright and inoffensive and appealing. As videos progressed, they started to move away from that: they got hipper, people started using Super 8 and handheld techniques, and everything got darker and more interesting. As a total film buff, I regret we weren’t around ten years later to make those kinds of videos.”

Read more about our Sting video profile below.

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In Mick Haggerty’s video for “Fortess Around Your Heart, ” a mysterious man approaches Sting on behalf of an unseen woman, offering him money to shoot a music video, which he films in a run-down warehouse. He later shows the video to the woman.

Pat Prescott put it this way:

“As a solo artist, Sting has the musical freedom to express the liberation he’s found in his own life. Sting now lives with actress Trudy Styler, the mother of two of his children. ‘Set Them Free’ is the answer to the possessiveness he fought in ‘Every Breath You Take.'”

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The rather ungrammatically-titled, Godley & Creme-directed  “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” was shot on Paris soundstage with the musicians all performing separately and their footage then overlaid onto a final version.

Pat Prescott: “In 1987, Sting released his second solo album, Nothing Like the Sun. In its first single, the actor/singer plays two characters, a scholar and a drunkard.”

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Pat Prescott: “From ‘So Lonely,’ to ‘We’ll Be Together,’ Sting’s songwriting career has focused on the conflict between love and freedom. He continues the tradition with ‘Be Still My Beating Heart,’ the latest musical exploration of life, from the man who now plays to crowds of two hundred thousand. The son of a milkman, Sting.”

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Pat Prescott: “During the 1986 Amnesty Tour, Sting met with former political prisoners from all over the world. He wrote ‘They Dance Alone’ for the wives, daughters and mothers of Chilean victims of political oppression.”

The video, directed by Dominic Sena, features an appearance by Rubén Blades, doing a mid-song monologue.

Watch Night Flight’s video profile of Sting on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.