Named after the area codes for their respective homelands (England and Jamaica), the new album out Friday finds the rock star and reggae king on common ground. But it’s not the first time they’ve shared the mic.
Years ago, “He was on my stage, uninvited, just turned up, popped up, sang ‘Roxanne’ with me and then disappeared,” Sting, 66, recalls of how Shaggy, 49, once stage-crashed his set. Says the culprit: “He’s an iconic guy. Who wouldn’t want to be up there?”
Recently reunited by a mutual contact, the two hit it off during a studio session and realized just how similar they are. The pair open up in this week’s issue of PEOPLE about bonding over music, shared family values and their beautiful, no-nonsense wives.
Your collaborative album has an upbeat island vibe throughout. What was the overall inspiration?
STING: It’s a lot of sunshine on this record. I think we need sunshine at the moment. It’s a lot of darkness around us politically and whatever. So this record is like springtime, saying things are going to get better, morning is coming.
SHAGGY: We wanted it to be timeless. He’s no stranger to making timeless music. I’m no stranger to making timeless music. We connected on that, on many things.
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Timeless like “Roxanne” and “It Wasn’t Me”?
SHAGGY: He says that’s his favorite song [of mine].
STING: I wish I had that. Why didn’t I write that song?
SHAGGY: Well, I will trade with you any day for “Every Breath You Take.”
Outside of music, what did you two bond over?
STING: We are both family men, married to strong women, we have lots of children [Sting has six kids and Shaggy has five], we care about our communities. We care about the world.
SHAGGY: His kids are older than my kids. I’ve got two grown kids, but I’ve got little ones too, and it’s a learning process for me, so I lean on him. He’s like my bigger brother, teacher.
For more from Sting and Shaggy and the surprising friendship, pick up our Beautiful issue when it hits newsstands on Friday and check out all of our coverage on PEOPLE.com.
Have your wives, Trudie Styler [Sting] and Rebecca Packer [Shaggy], been able to connect?
STING: It’s surprising how much in common our wives have. They do a very good job of keeping us in check. We know who the bosses are.
SHAGGY: Trudie was a real big supporter of me.
STING: Oh, she loves you. A little too much, actually, but I’ll get over it.
SHAGGY: When our wives finally met, it was just wow. It just flowed. Especially after a few cocktails.
What two female musicians would you be shocked and happy to see pair up?
STING: Wow, that’s hard….
STING: Am I the Barbra Streisand of our pairing?
SHAGGY: She’s the greatest singer on the planet! I put you in good company.
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