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Page 3 Profile: Sting, rock star

Oh Sting, where have you been?

He’s been writing a musical. The former Police frontman has spent the last few years penning The Last Ship, which tells the story of the demise of the shipbuilding industry in his native Newcastle. It’s set to moor up on Broadway next autumn.

Singing, dancing and shipbuilding?

Pretty much. The musical tells the story of a group of workers who, faced with their shipyard’s closure, build one last vessel as an act of defiance. They turn to Gideon, a young man whose difficult relationship with his father drove him to sea, to skipper the ship.

Sounds like Billy Elliott-on-sea.

Sting’s own upbringing, from which he drew inspiration, has its fair share of grit. Growing up in Wallsend, he would help with his father’s early-morning milk deliveries, before working as a bus conductor, a building labourer and a tax officer. Aged 10 he became “obsessed” with an old Spanish guitar and as a teenager would sneak into local clubs to watch Jimi Hendrix and Cream perform.

Hendrix played in Wallsend?

Shh, you’re ruining the moment. Either way, the local shipyard made an impression on him, and he recently recalled: “I watched many ships being launched, and there is something terrifying, apocalyptic and haunting about the event that never leaves you.”

He’s pretty far from the Toon now.

Having sold 100 million albums, won 16 Grammys and amassed a personal fortune of £180m, his lifestyle of macrobiotic eating and Jivamukti Yoga is a few steps removed from his Geordie roots – and he says he’s carried “survivor’s guilt” his whole life. The Last Ship is intended as an allegory. “It’s a crazy idea for a story, really,” Sting said. “A quixotic, even Homeric idea.”

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