Sting: How a frozen pea factory in Leeds helped kick-start my career

Many an artist has shot to international fame after a formative stint in Leeds – few may know that multi-million-selling rock star Sting can count himself among them.

During an intimate appearance at the City Varieties Music Hall today for the launch of his musical The Last Ship, which will open at sister venue Leeds Grand Theatre in April, the frontman of The Police revealed that he worked in the city during the 1970s to save up for a guitar.

Sting  at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, with cast members Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann.

Sting at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, with cast members Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann.

He said: “When I was a student I worked one summer in Hunslet in a frozen pea factory. I worked seven days a week, 12-hour shifts, to save up for a guitar – the rest is history. So thanks, Leeds.”

This story wasn’t the only one of his indicating a return to humble roots, as his childhood memories of shipbuilding – and its decline – in his native Tyne and Wear, inspired the musical.

Although the show premiered in Chicago in summer 2014 before a brief stint on Broadway in New York and elsewhere, but a “re-jigged” and “more political” version with a British cast begins in the UK next month.