The classic song that made Sting want to pursue rock music stardom
29 November 2023, 13:57 | Updated: 8 January 2024, 00:17
Pursuing a career in music is never easy.
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Especially when you envisage all the riches that some artists achieve, which is only a fraction of the millions of musicians out there in the world.
You have to be in the right place at the right time, which is why Sting relocated from his home in Newcastle to chase his dream in London, eventually forming The Police with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.
Starting out his working life as a teacher, Gordon Sumner taught at St Paul's First School in Cramlington for two years, an experience which influenced one of his band's major hits in 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.
His main passion was music however, and he'd play in various jazz outfits like the Phoenix Jazzmen, Last Exit, and the Newcastle Big Band in the evenings and weekends.
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It's where he gained his iconic nickname 'Sting', after wearing a black and yellow striped jumper, which made him look like a bee. It stuck, evidently.
Adopting the name as he left teaching to move on to London in January 1977, he met drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Henry Padovani on the punk club circuit, who formed The Police.
Padovani was replaced by Summers, which became the only lineup they maintained throughout their trajectory to rock music superstardom.
But those early days in London were soundtracked by a classic song, which Sting admits encouraged him to pursue transforming The Police into a global phenomenon: it was Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street'.
For his 70th birthday in 2021, Sting revealed the ten songs that shaped his life and career in music, with Gerry Rafferty's classic 'Baker Street' making the list.
"Again, this was a time I was living in London. I was living in Bayswater in a little bedsit," the 'Every Breath You Take' hit-maker told BBC Radio 2.
"I used have the radio on a lot and there were two hits that year, one of 'Wuthering Heights' and the other one was Gerry Rafferty‘s 'Baker Street'."
"That saxophone solo in the beginning completely destroyed me. It made me wish that I was in the charts too, because these were number one records."
"(I thought) ‘What it must be like to have a number one record?’ It was only a few months later that we had a song in the charts so I must have been dreaming really hard."
"But I just remember that wonderful song, it captures so much of that time for me."
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street (Official Video)
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'Baker Street' was a major top five hit across charts in Europe and the US, peaking at No.3 in the UK.
The saxophone solo has gone down in music history as arguably the most iconic, and it's no doubt Rafferty's signature song despite writing other hits like 'Right Down The Line' and 'Stuck In The Middle With You' with previous band Stealer's Wheel.
Only a matter of weeks after Sting recalled hearing it on the radio, his own band The Police scored their first significant hit.
'Roxanne', the band's second single, was first released on 7th April 1978 though failed to make a dent until it was re-released the following year after debut album, Outlandos d'Amour, was released the previous winter.
Goes to show the power of positive thinking - as we now know, The Police went on to become one of the biggest-selling bands of all time.