Ironman Actor And Oscar-Winner Robert Downey Jr Threatens To Upstage Sting When He Sings Lead On A Police Favourite.

Robert Downey Jr.’s performance at Sting’s 60th birthday bash continues to astound music fans. “Ironman can sing – like that?!” is a common response. As befits a star of his status, Downey Jr. is self-effacing when he speaks of his long friendship with Sting. He says they first met when he, Downey, was in his mid-20s and taken by the notion that he was a great songwriter. He attempted to palm a demo cassette onto Sting on a stairwell after a Sting concert. Sting was startled.

Sting’s wife Trudy Styler recognized Robert Downey Jr from Less Than Zero. “How nice of you to have come”, she said, greeting the young actor. Sting and Trudy never mentioned the tape until, 25 years later, they told Downey that they’d found it and asked if he wanted it back. Downey deadpanned that if they listened to it, they rewound the cassette and taped the case closed again. Fortunately, this didn’t stand in the way of Sting including Downey on the lineup at his birthday fundraiser in 2011.

When Downey starts singing, I think of longtime E-Street Band guitarist and solo star Nils Lofgren, who has one of the more distinctive voices in rock. Others mention Robert Palmer. Geena 99 expresses her amazement in the comments: “Brilliant! A true Artist! Who knew Mr Tony Stark had a voice like this and can sing the difficult Sting songs!” 850thx is no less enthused: “I’ve listened to this song dozens of times; what can’t this man do?” D Miles simply says, “Speechless! I had no idea.”

Typically, Howard Stern went further when he interviewed Downey in 2016. He claimed to have been so surprised by Downey’s singing on Driven to Tears (from the 1980 Police album Zenyatta Mondatta) that Sting kind of ruined the song for him. Downey would have none of it. Sting was a “practically perfect” performer who put Downey through his paces at rehearsals and guided him, Downey said. As many Music Man readers know, this was not the first Sting/Downey collaboration. That was on Ally McBeal.

That great duet was on the Cloudy Skies, Chance of Parade episode of the sitcom Ally McBeal, which first aired on 30 April 2001. In the episode, Sting is in town as he’s being sued by a cuckolded husband. Downey’s character, Larry Paul, Sting’s lawyer, needs to pull out all the stops for missing Ally’s birthday. Luckily, Sting agrees to sing with Larry when he finds out that Larry is missing his girlfriend’s birthday to assist him. Surprise!

The interlude with Sting is not the only role in which Downey sings. He can be heard on the soundtracks of Chaplin (1992), The Singing Detective (2003), and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) among others. Robert Downey Jr. released the solo album The Futurist in 2004. Despite some positive reviews for the album, which included eight original songs and scored 3.5 /5 on Allmusic, Downey said it was his first and last solo album as recording it took too much from his family time. Robert Downey Jr.’s most commercially successful recording is a song he sang on a Christmas episode of Ally McBeal. This song, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s The River, was included on the record Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas (2000). I’m sure Music Man readers are all ears. Let’s give it a spin:

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