Dire Straits was one of the most successful bands of the mid 80’s, with popular music that didn’t sacrifice musicianship and Mark Knopfler’s Dylan-like, stream-of-conscious narrative lyrics. According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, ranking fifth all-time.
Knopfler was a rock critic at the Yorkshire Evening Post while working for his English degree. Later, while teaching, he also played in South London pub bands and wrote his own songs. In 1977, Mark recorded a 5 song demo that included “Sultans of Swing” with his brother David, his brother’s roommate John Illsley and studio drummer Pick Withers . DJ Charlie Gillett played “Sultans of Swing ” on his BBC radio show, “Honky Tonkin’,” and 2 months later, Dire Straits signed a recording contract with the Vertigo division of Phonogram Inc.
Following a tour opening for Talking Heads, the band recorded their debut, Dire Straits, in just 12 days in early 1978. By the summer, they signed with Warner in America, releasing their S/T debut in the fall. Thanks to the Top 10 hit “Sultans of Swing,” Dire Straits was a major success in both Britain and America, with the single and album climbing into the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.
They quickly followed up with Communique (1979) which sold 3 million copies worldwide but had no hits. During sessions for Making Movies (1980), David Knopfler left, and E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan filled in. Jimmy Iovine produced the album, which included more complex arrangements. The album included “Skateaway” and the story-telling classic “Romeo and Juliet,” which hit #8 in the U.K. but didn’t catch on in the U.S. until years later. Love Over Gold (1982), with no singles-length cuts, went gold.
In 1985 they released the 26-million-selling, worldwide smash Brothers in Arms, featuring 3 hit singles: “Money for Nothing,” featuring Sting (#1), “Walk of Life” (#7), and “So Far Away” (#19). “Money For Nothing” became an MTV staple with it’s partially animated video.
While Brothers rode the charts, Knopfler explored many other projects including production (Bob Dylan’s Infidels, as well as writing Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”) , scoring films (The Princess Bride), and recording with Chet Atkins and side project Notting Hillbillies.
Six years later the band released On Every Street (1991). The album failed to meet expectations, only going platinum in America and not even cracking the U.K. Top 40, and failed to generate a hit single. Once the disappointing tour was complete, the live album On the Night (1993) was released and the band again went on hiatus. In 1996, Knopfler launched his solo career with Golden Heart. He later went on to score more films and release more successful solo albums including Kill To Get Crimson, Get Lucky, Tracker and more.
- Mark Knopfler: lead vocals, guitar (1977–1995)
- John Illsley: bass, vocals, guitar (1977–1995)
- Pick Withers: drums (1977–1982)
- David Knopfler: guitar (1977–1980)
- Alan Clark: keyboards, organ, piano (1980–1995)
- Hal Lindes: guitar (1980–1985)
- Terry Williams: drums (1982–1984, 1985–1989)
- Guy Fletcher: synthesizer, keyboards, guitar, vocals (1984–1995)
- Jack Sonni: guitar (1985–1988)
- Chris White: saxophone, flute, percussion (1985–1995)
NE OHIO CONCERTS
- Palace Theatre – October 3, 1979
- The Agora – November 18, 1980
- Blossom Music Center – August 5, 1985
- Richfield Coliseum – February 20, 1992
- Sultans of Swing
- Money For Nothing
- Tunnel of Love
- Romeo and Juliet
- Walk of Life
- Twisting By The Pool
- So Far Away
- Private Investigations
- Industrial Disease
- Brothers In Arms