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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

calipawz1
classic!
A great band that has stood the test of time.
one of my favorite bands,
Just rollin' with it...
Straits first album release an absolute masterpiece. . . One of the best guitar albums of all time...
So far away from me...YOU'RE SO FAR AWAY...
ez7iron
Quite possibly the greatest voice in rock IMO.
Absolutely beautiful
Calling Elvis...the best
One of their best tunes in my opinion.
Fabulous
I love Sultans of swing
nicko252008
That little F*ggot he's a millionaire! ! !
I love hearing the man play!
Why does this remind me of Velvet Underground?
Dann if these don't bring back the memories. At least the ones I can remember. There's never been a better time for music.
holt56
Thanks, Pandora, for playing the full f**got version of Money For Nothing.
More twisting by the pool or Sultan's of Swing
nicko252008
Rock Legends!
First album blew me away stays in the family truckster cd changer always. Sultans of swing is just one of the greats on that album
God, I Iove Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits! Unlike most rock bands which become stale over time, like a fine wine Dire Straits tunes just get better every time I listen to them. Truly one of the great bands of the rock and roll era!
Genius! The whole band was absolutely amazing, but mark is truly a brilliant writer. The older stuff has some phenomenally stirring lyrics and wonderful jazz
underhillsco r e Your an idiot.
Confusing bio to say the least.
souperchef69
(Sigh....) It's like having a close family member suddenly die.
Callin' Elvis
Is there anybody home?
Callin' Elvis
I'm here all alone...
A group with a drummer with one of the most ironic names (for a drummer) in rock and roll. How does a person with the name Pick Withers end up playing drums anyway?
Memories, all good with Dire Strait
MK is a phenomenal guitar player and song writer. His status will only grow over time.
What about his work with Chet?! (Given that Dire Straits is Mark Knopfler more or less)
So Far Away is my favorite!
Such a smooth touch on the guitar, he massaged tones out of his ax!
AMAZING, NICE,
Expresso Love, exquisite my friend
i heard this song on the radio earlier in the afternoon
Mark Knopfler is simply outstanding his work with DS is legendary. His solo work is well worth a listen as well. Really enjoying his work with Emmylou Harris, these days.
this is one of my favorite songs from Dire Straits
Hand in Hand, one of the most underrated love songs. You wish you were cool enough to come up with this for your girl.
Great song !!!!!
thanks to JJ Cale.
Have you see Mark Knopfler playing the guitar, wow unique .
claricentp91 7
I'm making around $70+ daily by just answering surveys from home. You can do the same thing just visit BLUDOS.COM (tHANK mE).
shawnnavuz71 1
I'm making around $70+ daily by just answering surveys from home. You can do the same thing just visit BLUDOS.COM (tHANK mE).
I love dire straits!
lamerehailey
I want to delete this station
lamerehailey
How do I delete this music station
The f**got version is by far the best.
I remember the music video to Money For Nothing. That video was always playing on MTV before we rap and crap took MTV over.
Follow Me Home, a hot little ditty, do so at your own risk
money for nothing is one of their best songs ever other than sultans of swing
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