Is Sting Related to Bernard Sumner?

Sting related to Bernard Sumner lg

Gordon Sumner (aka Sting of the Police) and New Order’s Bernard Sumner are famous names in the music industry. Since both share a common surname and both the artists produce pop music, people often wonder, is Sting related to Bernard Sumner?

Here is what I discovered from my research:

Sting is not related to Bernard Sumner closely or distantly in blood relation. While Sting was born with the last name Sumner, Bernard was given his mother’s last name of Sumner as his father was not involved in his life.

Bernard later took the name of his adoptive father, Dicken, changing it back to Sumner later, and even briefly going under the name of Bernard Albrecht.

While there is a lot that has been said and printed about their musical careers, fans have remained a little in the dark about their personal lives. But during my research, I was surprised to find some overlap in some parts of their lives.

Sting and Barney both had miserable childhoods.

Both worked a handful of jobs before finally forming their bands to secure a financially stable life. They paved their musical career in the pop genre and honed their guitar and vocals skills later on.

But let’s see what other similarities the two stars share.

Is Bernard Sumner’s real name Sumner?

Bernard was given his mother’s surname Sumner at birth as his father was not involved. Later, when his mother married, he took the last name of Dicken, the name of his adoptive father. He also adopted the surname Albrecht later in life but eventually went back to Sumner.

When Bernard missed his biological father from his upbringing, he adopted a variation of the name of a famous playwright- Bertolt Brecht. At this point, he liked to call himself Bernard Albrecht.

I found a page on Reddit where some fans asked Why Did They Have Bernard Sumner’s Surname as Albrecht Sometimes?

One of the users comments that the reason behind adopting the surname Albrecht could have been a potential result of the band’s general interest in WWII, which was quite prevalent in their earliest releases.

There is no concrete evidence to support this claim.

But I went on with my research and found that Bernard changed his surname when he formed the band Joy Division after attending a concert of Sex Pistols. He took on his mother’s surname- Sumner. According to JoyDivorg, his real name has never been properly confirmed.

Bernard’s biographer David Nolan attempted to unravel some of the mystery in Sumner’s early years and cleared at least one thing: Bernard’s real name was not Sumner.

The surname Sumner began to sound synonymous with Bernard’s identity much later on, and he never tried to change it from there.

I can say adopting his mother’s name worked quite well for him. He went on to form New Order, and the band established their unique style, setting themselves apart from Joy Division.

Read my recent article to know how the band eschewed heavy guitars and embraced electronics making arguably the most refined records that Joy Division could.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Why did Bernard Sumner change his name?

Bernard missed the absence of his biological father in his childhood, which led to his mother changing his name to his adoptive father’s name of Dicken. But his feeling a lack of identity led to him frequently changing his last name in his early years.

Bernard Sumner has always managed to keep his life deeply private, which is often considered a reason behind various internet interpretations regarding his name change.

But since I have some severe research buds, I continued my search and landed on a page which discussed the following details:

Bernard never knew his biological father, which was why he took on his mother’s surname- Sumner. Later in life, his mother, Laura Sumner, married James Dickin. When James adopted him, his stepfather lent him his surname Dickin.

Sumner said in his biography:

“I hadn’t really wanted my name changing from Sumner in the first place; I had got used to it, I was made to change it.”

The name Dickin seems to have an affectionate adoption by Bernard because he later used it in his life.

He was also rumored to have adopted another surname, Gestapo. But he cleared this in an interview when he misheard an anchor calling him Albrecht.

Sumner states:

“I thought he had said ‘Bernard Albrecht’. Nothing to do with the Gestapo, I’m afraid.”

You may see it as a coincidence, but Sumner’s morphing always seems to have been a forced one.

Just as he had to change his surname due to the absence of his biological father from his childhood, he also had to start a music career with a new name after the death of band leader Ian. 

But in my recent article, I have covered how morphing into New Order from Joy Division was a turning point in the band’s career.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Why is Gordon Sumner called Sting?

Gordon Solomon, the bandleader of the Phoenix Jazzmen whom Sting was performing with, bestowed the nickname Sting to Gordon Sumner after the latter’s habit of wearing a black sweater with yellow hooded stripes resembling a bee. 

Out of so many variations available of the story behind how Sting got his nickname, this is the most credible one I found:

After completing his education, Gordon Sumner worked at an elementary school for two years. On evenings of the weekends, Sumner played at local clubs with the Phoenix Jazzmen, Newcastle Big Band, and Last Exit.

Among these, the Phoenix Jazzmen was a band which was lead by Gordon Solomon.

Solomon noted Sumner often wearing a black sweater with yellow stripes. During the gigs, Sumner continued wearing the same sweater to which Solomon thought he looked like a bee and gave him the name Sting.

Sumner agreed to the story in an interview and confirmed:

“they thought I looked like a wasp,” which prompted the name “Sting.”

In the 1985 documentary “Bring on the Night,” a journalist called Sting, Gordon, replied, “My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?”

(source)

In 2011, Sting told Time Magazine that “I was never called Gordon. You could shout ‘Gordon’ in the street, and I would just move out of your way”.

He also told Esquire magazine: “Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.”

Interview with Bernard Sumner of New Order

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon to see friends and family members choose the same profession.

There are famous sibling teams like Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, the Jonas Brothers, and many more.

While some are connected by blood, some are bound by talent. The same can be said about Gordon Sumner and Bernard Sumner. Both musicians have been able to pass the test of times and tasted success.

Looking back to their humble origins, the artists share quite a few incidents that confuse fans that they are somehow related to each other.

Despite the anticipation, there are no proofs of any blood relation or distant relation between the both.


Photos that require attribution:

Bad Lieutenant by Man Alive! and Sting by Mike Maguire are licensed under CC2.0 and were cropped, edited, merged, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Hi, I'm Jeff Campbell, a former DJ, music journalist, musician, and music lover. I'm old enough to have seen all the cool bands and young enough to still remember them.

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