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Dire Straits

Dire Straits emerged during the post-punk era of the late '70s, and while their sound was minimalistic and stripped down, they owed little to punk. If anything, the band was a direct outgrowth of the roots revivalism of pub rock, but where pub rock celebrated good times, Dire Straits were melancholy. Led by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler, the group built their sound upon the laid-back blues-rock of J.J. Cale, but they also had jazz and country inflections, occasionally dipping into the epic song structures of progressive rock. The band's music was offset by Knopfler's lyrics, which approximated the winding, stream-of-conscious narratives of Bob Dylan. As their career progressed, Dire Straits became more refined and their new maturity happened to coincide with the rise of MTV and the compact disc. These two musical revolutions from the mid-'80s helped make Dire Straits' sixth album, Brothers in Arms, an international blockbuster. The band -- along with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Steve Winwood -- become one of the leaders of a group of self-consciously mature veteran rock & rollers in the late '80s that designed their music to appeal to aging baby boomers. Despite the band's international success, they couldn't sustain their stardom, waiting a full six years to deliver a follow-up to Brothers in Arms, by which time their audience had shrunk significantly.

Knopfler (born August 12, 1949) was always the main force behind Dire Straits. The son of an architect, Knopfler studied English literature at Leeds University and worked briefly as a rock critic for the Yorkshire Evening Post while at college. He began teaching English after his graduation, leading a pub rock band called Brewer's Droop at night. By 1977, Mark was playing with his brother David (guitar) and his roommate John Illsley (bass). During the summer of 1977, the trio cut a demo with drummer Pick Withers. A London DJ named Charlie Gillett heard the demo and began playing "Sultans of Swing" on his BBC show Honky Tonkin'. Following a tour opening for Talking Heads, the band began recording their debut for Vertigo Records with producer Muff Winwood in early 1978. By the summer, they had signed with Warner in America, releasing their eponymous debut in the fall. Thanks to the Top Ten hit "Sultans of Swing," Dire Straits was a major success in both Britain and America, with the single and album climbing into the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dire Straits established Dire Straits as a major force on album-oriented radio in America, and their second album, Communique (1979), consolidated their audience, selling three million copies worldwide. As the group was recording its third album, David Knopfler left the band to pursue a solo career; he was replaced by former Darling member Hal Lindes. Like its predecessor, Making Movies was a sizable hit in America and Britain, even though the band was criticized for musically treading water. Nevertheless, the record went gold on the strength of the radio and MTV hits "Romeo and Juliet" and "Skateaway." Dire Straits followed the album two years later with Love Over Gold, an album filled with long, experimental passages, plus the single "Private Investigations," which became a number two hit in the U.K. The album went gold in America and spent four weeks at number one in Britain. Shortly after the release of Love Over Gold, former Rockpile drummer Terry Williams replaced Withers.

During 1982, Knopfler began exploring musical avenues outside of Dire Straits, scoring the Bill Forsyth film Local Hero and playing on Van Morrison's Beautiful Vision. Apart from releasing the Twisting by the Pool EP early in 1983, Dire Straits were quiet for the majority of 1983 and 1984, as Knopfler produced Bob Dylan's Infidels, as well as Aztec Camera and Willy DeVille; he also wrote "Private Dancer for Tina Turner's comeback album. In the spring of 1984, the band released the double album Alchemy: Dire Straits Live and by the end of the year, they had begun recording their fifth studio album with their new keyboardist, Guy Fletcher.

Released in the summer of 1985, Brothers in Arms was Dire Straits' breakthrough album, making the band international stars. Supported by the groundbreaking computer-animated video for "Money for Nothing," a song which mocked music videos, the album became a blockbuster, spending nine weeks at the top of the American charts and selling over nine million copies; in England, the album became the biggest-selling album of the '80s. "Walk of Life" and "So Far Away" kept Brothers in Arms in the charts through 1986, and Dire Straits played over 200 dates in support of the album. Once the tour was completed, Dire Straits went on hiatus for several years, as Knopfler produced records by Randy Newman and Joan Armatrading, scored films, toured with Eric Clapton, and recorded a duet album with Chet Atkins (Neck and Neck, 1990). In 1989, he formed the country-rock group Notting Hillbillies, whose sole album, Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time, became a British hit upon its spring 1990 release. During the extended time off, John Illsley recorded his second album; the first appeared in 1984.

In 1990, Knopfler reconvened Dire Straits, which now featured Illsley, Clark, Fletcher, and various session musicians. The band released On Every Street in the fall of 1991 to great anticipation. However, the album failed to meet expectations -- it only went platinum in America and it didn't crack the U.K. Top 40 -- and failed to generate a hit single. Similarly, the tour was a disappointment, with many tickets going unsold in both the U.S. and Europe. Once the tour was completed, the live album On the Night was released in the spring of 1993 and the band again went on hiatus. In 1996, Knopfler launched his solo career with Golden Heart. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Weird Al Yankovic turned this into a song about the Beverly Hillbillies! The King of Parody rules! And yes, this song rules!
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Take it far what its worth . What do I mean by that . Could be a 1000 lb Horse
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I am a home grown Louisiana Poor Boy That got nasty riich now i am retired enjoying the fruits of my Labor
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Planet Of New Orleans by Dire Straits I Like
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cook35
Yeah, Ortega and the FSLN were murderous butchers but they were our kind of butchers!
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I temembet the Contra scandal, ans running Central American refugees through America to Canada where they could get asylum. Pres Reagan refused. Most were familt members of politucal leaders being hunted down by CIA fueled militias. Brothers In Arms nailed it, portraying the indigenous struggle to keep their highland mountain property that had been theirs for centuries. Most were displaced by the time the Peace Accord WA signed in 1996. Knoplers insight to the truth was so transparent, I t
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Knopler playing in Oslo this May, jazz fest. A must attend to see this legand live. He's a corner stone to our r n r, r n b rock country and ragpickers Voice. His songs have been the background musical score to my lifes biopic.
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His album with Emmylou Harris is excellent and shows his versatility.
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Yep put me in coach
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Why are they not in the Hall of Fame yet?
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Every album they released made the top 40, including Brothers in Arms which topped the charts worldwide. Dire Straits double platinum, Communique gold, Making Movies platinum, Love Over Gold gold, Brothers in Arms nearly diamond, On Every Street platinum. Alchemy (live album) went gold. Money for Nothing (compilation ) platinum. 3 top 40 pop hits including Money For Nothing at #1. Nine top 40 rock hits. Money For Nothing has a revolutionar y music video for its time.
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fariborz1500
Mark Knopfler North America concert tour coming up :)
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garrickconne c t i o n
A great 70's group.
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Money for Nothing is the best in my opinion!
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I had to live through disco. If not for Dire Straits it would have been the end of me.
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Got to be one of their best songs
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Total 80"s trip....
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Have loved since sultans, and his work with emmylou harris...sub l i m e
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Totally forgot about On Every Street which was better than the release before and much less about war.
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What album is twisting by the pool on, or is the song called something else?
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No, he certainly didn't...
It's " Private Dancer ", as it says in the biography above
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wally792
Mark Knopfler may be very talented,b but he did NOT write Tiny Dancer
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Love Straits & MK especially. Saw him live last year and still great!
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Thank you Mr. Lewis. Yea mr negative douch loves to pull all our chains. I would love to know what this guy considers listenable. Music is to be enjoyed and cherished. Take your negative crap and go FYS!
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mikepascarel l o
The guitar, piano, drum arrangement @ the end of Private Investigatio n s , it does not get any better that this. Powerful and brilliant. Dire Straits one of the greatest groups of all time no doubt.
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Knopfler kills it!!!
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vilodalri
He says f**got lol
A+!
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rollinsri0
Where are the lyrics?
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so. I'm reading every ones props and good vibes about Dire Straits and other bands throughout the ages and then all of a sudden there's 'bobonnitt' or 'bobonnitt6' .EVERY TIME with a $#!TTY @$$ remark about how boring or untalented some band is that HE does not like.. he's like the Sunday morning comic strip,'The Family Circus',afte r you read all the funny,good stuff, there it is.the last comic strip just waiting to SUCK... this D!CKHEAD could proly say something negative about Bob Marley.
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She's makin' movies on location.... . . .
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��
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A true artistic endeavor.
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Mk doesn't overplay. Simple straightforw a r d lyrics and soulful melodies. Feel good music every time.
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Mark Knopfler is the European Jerry. His guitar sound is so unmistakeabl y unique, creating it's own breeze, cruising on the air waves.
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lasiter803
Brothers In Arms
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bandwmachine 2
Super groovy sound. Gets my body moving and my mind smoothing.
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They are in my top 10 of all time. I first heard them on MTV singing Money for Nothing. I was sitting on my couch with my two young teens. They didn't care much for them. A lot of Babyboomers liked them and still do.
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Party music I call this!
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milosdad
Very unique. Completely awesome. When I first heard Dire Straits I was way into punk. These guys, however, fit the bill. While not angry, they rebelled against the typical rock that was out there and it connected with me.
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bill.stanley 5 1
When Chet Atkins says you are th BEST guitarist he has ever seen, you have got something special.
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yes......... . t h e y are one of the greatest bands....... . . . . . . . K a t h e r i n e Sophia...... . . . . . . . . . . . .
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jrguitarman6 5 1
Jimmy red
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love this music....... . . . . . . . . . . . K a t h e r i n e Sophia...... . . . . . . .
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lgehren
As others have stated....ju s t cool...and Mark is great!
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Reminds me of JJ Cale
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If you get a chance to see Mark live he will stick with you as one of the greats.
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one of the best rock'nroll songs evah!
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Love Mark Knopflers guitar on Kings Call a track he played on with Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy. It's from Lynott's solo album Solo In Soho.
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zjack46
One of best guitar players of all time. And a voice to match.
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Mine too.
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