Sting Says He Discovered Country Music Through Westerns Like ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Maverick’

by Lauren Boisvert

Sting, known worldwide as a founding member of the Engish rock band The Police, but also a long-time hit-making solo artist in his own right, recently took a trip to Nashville to perform at Ascend Amphitheater. Legend says he even mingled among the locals and listened to country music all night.

If that doesn’t sound like the Sting you know, then you don’t know Sting. The famous bassist and vocalist apparently enjoys country music, but when we say “country music” we mean classic, traditional country of yesteryear. We’re talking Hank Williams and Buck Owens, who influenced Sting to dabble in writing country songs. But, what led the Englishman to country music, and how does he fit in so well with country music fans?

Apparently, Sting discovered old-school country music through shows like “Maverick” and “Bonanza.” The shows were Western classics, with “Bonanza” being the second-longest-running Western series in television history (falling only behind “Gunsmoke”). According to Sting, who spoke about his country music influences to the crowd at his show, he could never bring himself to perform the country songs he wrote.

“There’s a problem of authenticity,” he said, “because I’m not from Nashville. I’m from the north of England.” Of course, British country singers exist: country music is weirdly huge in the UK, considering there’s the British Country Music Festival and the Country 2 Country Festival held annually. Also, consider country music star Keith Urban. He’s made such a country name for himself that I feel like a lot of people forget he’s actually Australian. But, rock star Sting seems to have a certain respect for the genre and the culture of country music, that he doesn’t want to step over his bounds.

Sting Shares His Love of Country Music with Nashville Locals

The night before his show, Sting popped into Robert’s Western World while local Brennen Leigh performed her usual set. He even stayed all the way until the closing act, Chris Casello, also a local Nashville artist. Leigh told Saving Country Music that Sting was a “class act,” and that he “graciously hung at the bar with the rest of us country folk and listened to the band all night.”

Sting isn’t a stranger to country music, clearly. He has a deep love of the genre, and even has some country-inspired songs in his repertoire. He performed “So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” from his 1996 album “Mercury Falling,” which heavily features fiddle and steel guitar. Toby Keith even covered it in 1997.

What’s more, he also performed “I Hung My Head,” which Johnny Cash covered in 2002. If that doesn’t give Sting permission to write and perform as much country music as he wants, I don’t know what does.