cover image Sting: Demolition Man

Sting: Demolition Man

Christopher Sandford / Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $24 (3

His critics find him pretentious, his admirers think him a genius and some just want him to get the Police back together. Sting, one of rock's most successful musicians, has never lacked for attention in a career that's now more than two decades long. In this absorbing, sympathetic new biography, Sandford (Kurt Cobain) depicts Sting as a complex figure driven as much by his overwhelming ego as by ambition and talent. Sandford follows the former Gordon Summer from his working-class childhood in Newcastle, England, to London, where, in 1976, he formed the Police with drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers. With their blend of rock, reggae and punk, the Police enjoyed phenomenal success, recording five hit albums in all, despite personal and artistic antagonism between Sting and his bandmates (particularly Copeland) that occasionally led to fistfights. From the band's breakup at their commercial peak in 1983, Sandford follows Sting's post-Police life and career as he gradually mellowed from hubristic rock star to spiritual family man. Sandford concludes that Sting's enduring stardom and wealth can be attributed to his uncanny ability to fuse musical versatility, intelligent (though occasionally mawkish) lyrics and savvy business sense. His brooding good looks haven't hurt, either. (Nov.)