November 1985: Sting Releases Solo Documentary 'Bring on the Night'

Sting and his band, 1985
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Brian Rasic/Getty Images

Director Michael Apted, who passed away in January 2021 at 79, was famous for the Up series of documentaries that followed a group of British citizens every seven years, beginning when they were seven years old. In 1985, Apted chronicled a different sort of famed Englishman growing up in public: Sting, at the beginning of his solo career, as seen in the film Bring on the Night.

Sting had risen to the height of fame as frontman for The Police, whose 1983 album Synchronicity featured the Grammy-winning chart-topper "Every Breath You Take." But tensions had been rising in the group for years, and by the end of their world tour the band was more or less ready to call it a day.

Read More: June 1983: The Police Release Last Album 'Synchronicity'

For his first proper solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting went in a slightly unpredictable direction, recording an album of jazz-based pop with a core band featuring well-known jazz musicians of color. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim had played with luminaries like Miles Davis, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock and Art Blakey; with the exception of Hakim (who kept time on David Bowie's Let's Dance), none had logged studio time with a pop artist - and Sting wanted to chronicle the birth of his new band, up close and personal.

Read More: July 1985: Sting Goes Solo with "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"

Bring on the Night mixes rehearsal footage and performances from the band's first European dates, at the Theatre Mogador in Paris. Sting and his sidemen are also interviewed, shown adjusting to working with a different kind of bandleader. Highlights include the ensemble improvising the theme to The Flintstones and Marsalis - a longtime sideman for Sting in the decades to come - embarrassing the boss by reading a tabloid biography of him on camera. (A notable subplot of sorts involves Sting's partner, Trudie Styler, whom he married in 1992; in one striking sequence set to the anti-war song "Russians," she gives birth to their second child together.)

Bring on the Night earned resepectable reviews as a music documentary. The New York Times called it "a film that winds up being inadvertently revealing, and that seems to change shape as it goes along...a good illustration of how powerful a role a film crew can play in the very process it is attempting to record." A live album of the same name, released the following summer, was a Top 20 hit in England; in 1987, the film earned a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.

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