Mark Knopfler – circa 1982
“Check out Guitar George / He knows all the chords” – ‘Sultans Of Swing’ (Mark Knopfler)
‘An exceptionally gifted guitarist’, ‘virtuoso guitar playing’, ‘plays a Stratocaster with the understated emotion of a young Eric Clapton’ and ‘one of the new guitar heroes’. These are all comments on the work of guitarist Mark Knopfler of the British rock group Dire Straits. The role of Knopfler’s guitar work is acknowledged in the band’s first logo: a Fender Stratocaster guitar with the words ‘Dire Straits’ inscribed across it in cursive script.
Mark Freuder Knopfler is born on 12 August 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. He is the son of Erwin Knopfler and Louisa Mary Knopfler. Erwin Knopfler is an architect and chess-player. He was born in Hungary and is Jewish. Erwin Knopfler’s Hebrew background and anti-fascist politics led to him fleeing Hungary in 1939 to avoid the spread of Nazism across Europe. Arriving in the U.K., he went on to fall in love with a teacher, his future wife, Louisa. As well as Mark, Erwin and Louisa have a second son, David Knopfler, who is born on 27 December 1952 in Glasgow. The boys are born into a ‘middle-class household.’ Apparently, they do not follow their father’s religious faith. Mark later says he is a ‘Marxist agnostic.’ Mark Knopfler starts his education with two years at Bearsden Primary School in Scotland.
When Mark Knopfler is 7 – and younger brother David is 2 – the family moves to England. It seems that, at first, they land in Blyth, Northumberland, in the north east of the country. This is the hometown of Mark and David’s mother, Louisa Knopfler. However, they soon move slightly south to Newcastle upon Tyne. In that locale, Louisa takes a job as a headmistress at a school. Mark and David both attend Gosforth Grammar School.
Both Mark Knopfler and David Knopfler develop an interest in music. This is initially sparked by their uncle Kingsley who plays both harmonica and boogie-woogie piano. In the 1950s Mark Knopfler listens to music by rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis Presley (and his guitarists Scotty Moore and – in later years – James Burton), country musician Chet Atkins, blues guitarist B. B. King, jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and British instrumental rock band The Shadows (whose guitarist Hank B. Marvin plays a Fender Stratocaster). “Chuck Berry made a huge impression,” adds Mark, referring to the 1950s rock performer who combined singing, twangy guitar parts and songwriting. “By 12 or 13, I was listening to [folk rock icon] Bob Dylan,” says Mark. “I was…concerned about words. It was never just about music.” And Dylan – like Berry – is a well-regarded lyricist.
“I’ve always worked since I was 14,” says Mark Knopfler. “Different jobs, building sites, factory, warehousing, farming, a lot of manual work.”
Mark Knopfler receives his first guitar when he is 15. Although Mark had petitioned for a Fender Stratocaster like Hank B. Marvin’s instrument, that is a bit beyond the family’s budget at the time so he has to content himself with a Hofner Super Solid guitar bought for him by his father. Although Mark is left-handed in all other ways, he plays guitar right-handed. As a 16 year old, Mark has a harmony duo with classmate Sue Hercombe and Mark and Sue appear together on a local television program. Mark Knopfler is said to have cut his first single at 16 – but it is never released.
David Knopfler is not far behind his big brother in getting into music. By the time he is 11, David has a guitar, piano and drum kit. David Knopfler begins singing and playing in folk clubs when he is 14. David observes, “On one hand, our parents were horrified that we wanted to make a career of pop music. On the other hand, they had a liberal bias for letting us follow our own path. But they would have preferred us to be architects or lawyers…”
It is probably around this time that Mark Knopfler meets Kathy White since she is described as his ‘long-time girlfriend from school days.’
As first Mark Knopfler – and then David Knopfler – move on to tertiary education, their musical ambitions are, if not exactly abandoned, put on a back burner while they try to find more conventional career paths.
Mark Knopfler’s interest in words is put to use when he studies journalism for a year at Harlow College far to the south and closer to London. In 1968 Mark is hired as a junior reporter in the Leeds office of the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’ newspaper. Mark Knopfler also plays some gigs with a band called Silverheels. This act consists of: Mick Dewhurst (vocals), Mark Knopfler (guitar), Dave Johnson (bass) and Paul Granger (drums). One of Mark’s newspaper assignments is to interview a local blues guitarist named Steve Phillips. Knopfler and Phillips get along well and they perform together as The Duolian Stringpickers for the ‘next few years.’ In April 1970 Mark Knopfler makes a demo recording of a song called ‘Summer’s Coming My Way’. Mark is both singer and guitarist on this track and is backed by his Duolian Stringpickers partner Steve Phillips (guitar) and the Silverheels rhythm section, Dave Johnson (bass) and Paul Granger (drums). Another one of Mark Knopfler’s jobs at the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’ is to write an obituary for Jimi Hendrix when the great American rock guitarist passes away in September 1970.
Mark Knopfler leaves his job as a journalist and returns to school. He studies for a degree in English at the University of Leeds. During this time, Mark marries Kathy White, his ‘long-time girlfriend from school days.’ Mark Knopfler graduates from university in 1973. His marriage to Kathy White comes to an end. It is not clear exactly when the marriage ends. It could be as early as 1973 or as late as 1976.
In 1973 Mark Knopfler moves to London. He gets a flat in Buckhurst Hill and works as a lecturer at Loughton College in Essex. This is Mark’s ‘daytime job’ for three years. However he is also pursuing his interest in music. In 1973 he works with a band called Brewer’s Droop.
Brewer’s Droop (1971-1973) has a history before Mark Knopfler comes along. The act’s amusing name is a slang term for erectile dysfunction due to excessive alcohol consumption. On their first album, ‘Opening Time’ (1972), Brewer’s Droop consists of: Ron Watts (vocals, percussion), John ‘Alimony Slim’ Mackay (guitar, vocals), Steve Darrington (keyboards, reeds), Malcolm Barrett (bass) and Bob Walker (drums). Brewer’s Droop also releases a (non-album) single, ‘Sweet Thing’, in 1972. Things get more complicated in 1973. Bassist Malcolm Barrett leaves the band and is replaced by Derrick Timms. The group amends their name, changing from Brewer’s Droop to, simply, The Droop. A new single, ‘Louise’, is issued in September 1973. This track is co-produced by Kingsley Ward and noted guitarist Dave Edmunds – who also makes a musical guest-appearance on ‘Louise’. Drummer Bob Walker steps down temporarily and is replaced ‘for a short spell’ by future Dire Straits member Pick Withers. However Withers is gone before Mark Knopfler gets involved with The Droop; Withers and Knopfler do not meet at this time. Bassist Derrick Timms leaves and is replaced by Steve Nachi. It is at this time that Mark Knopfler joins the band as lead guitarist. At the same time, lead vocals for The Droop are shared between Ron Watts and John Mackay. The latter continues to play guitar in the group but the addition of Knopfler gives Mackay some space to exercise his vocal aspirations as well. Finally, Brewer’s Droop dissolves at the end of 1973. A second album, ‘The Booze Brothers’ (1989), is recorded during 1973 but it is not issued until sixteen years later. This disc is credited (once again) to Brewer’s Droop (rather than The Droop) and trumpets on the cover the presence of Mark Knopfler and Dave Edmunds. Mark Knopfler plays on only three tracks on ‘The Booze Brothers’.
Around this time, Mark Knopfler alters his guitar technique. One night, he is stuck with performing with an old acoustic guitar with a badly warped neck and extra-light strings. The only way he can get a workable sound out of this instrument is to adopt a finger-picking style. “That was where I found my ‘voice’ on the guitar,” claims Knopfler.
After Brewer’s Droop calls it a day, Mark Knopfler ‘plays with local pub bands.’ Eventually, he settles in with a band called Café Racers. In April 1977 Mark moves out of his Buckhurst Hill flat and moves into a flat where his brother, David, is living.
Once he left Gosforth Grammar School, David Knopfler went on to Bristol Polytechnic. Graduating from that institution, the younger Knopfler brother found employment as a social worker in London. When Mark comes to live with his sibling, he is the third person in the residence. David Knopfler is already sharing his abode with John Illsley.
John Edward Illsley is born on 24 June 1949 in Leicester, England. He is one of four children. John has an older sister named Pat and two brothers. John Illsley is educated at Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire and a ‘further education college’ near Kettering, Northamptonshire. John starts playing guitar on a Rosetti Lucky 7 that he buys for ten pounds. He learns bass on an instrument nicknamed ‘The Spade’ that John’s brother makes for him in woodwork class. John Illsley goes on to work as a trainee for a timber firm. After that, he studies sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and opens a record shop with his girlfriend. While in London, John Illsley shares a flat with David Knopfler – and that is how Illsley meets David’s elder brother, Mark. This is how John Illsley remembers their first encounter: “[I] walked into the lounge room, and saw this figure lying on the floor…asleep…with a guitar over his legs, and he’d…fallen asleep on the floor while he was playing…His head was sort of cranked back, and there was an ashtray with cigarette butts and coffee on the floor.” If that doesn’t sound too promising, John Illsley also says of Mark Knopfler, “We got along well from the start. I did a couple of gigs with Mark’s band because the bass player’s girlfriend was having a baby. After that we sat in the pub one night and decided to start our own band.”
Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler and John Illsley may be ready to start a band, but they still need a drummer. Pick Withers takes on that role.
Pick Withers is born David Withers on 4 April 1948 in Leicester, England. He first starts playing the drums in the Boys’ Brigade, a Christian youth organisation in England. The lad is taught to play by his childhood friend, Richard Storer. David Withers becomes a professional musician at 17 years of age when he is in a band called The Primitives. Pick Withers is a member of the prog rock band Spring (1971-1972) under the name of Pique Withers. The full line-up is: Pat Moran (vocals), Ray Martinez (guitar), Kips Brown (keyboards), Adrian Maloney (bass) and Pique Withers (drums). They record only one album, ‘Spring’ (1971), before breaking up the following year. In 1973 the drummer has a short stint in Brewer’s Droop – using the name Pic Withers. Although future Dire Straits colleague Mark Knopfler also later works with Brewer’s Droop, Withers and Knopfler are not both in Brewer’s Droop at the same time. In the mid-1970s, Pick Withers is the house drummer at Dave Edmunds’ Rockfield Studios recording facility in Wales. In 1977 Pick Withers is briefly a member of folk rock act Magna Carta, a band fronted by Chris Simpson (vocals, guitar). Mark Knopfler first meets Pick Withers when both of them work on an aborted solo recording by Rod Clements, the bassist of British folk rock band Lindisfarne.
Mark Knopfler (vocals, lead guitar), David Knopfler (guitar), John Illsley (bass) and Pick Withers (drums) are the founding – and definitive – members of the band they call Dire Straits. The name is suggested by a musician flatmate of Pick Withers. Someone in trouble, someone in risky or impoverished circumstances is colloquially said to be ‘in dire straits.’ Guitarist David Knopfler comments, “The notion that the band were literally in dire straits is largely retrospective myth making and not really partially supportable. We all had day jobs until we got a whacking big advance from Polygram [sic – David probably means Phonogram].”
The band’s first gig as Dire Straits takes place in the summer of 1977. It is at a makeshift festival at the back of a council block in Deptford. The show is headlined by new wave band Squeeze but, aside from Dire Straits, all the other acts on the bill are punk rock bands.
After a few months of rehearsals and a show at the Rock Garden, Dire Straits make a demo recording. This is paid for with five hundred pounds that bassist John Illsley inherits from his late grandmother. There are five songs on the demo tape; four of them are written by group leader Mark Knopfler and will later end up on the group’s first album. The fifth song, ‘Sacred Loving’, is written by guitarist David Knopfler. The demo recording is taken to MCA in Soho, but that record label rejects the group. The next move for Dire Straits is to seek advice from disc jockey Charlie Gillett. At the time, Gillett hosts a program called ‘Honky Tonk’ on BBC Radio, London. Mark Knopfler and company hope that Charlie Gillett may be able to offer some useful tips but, contrary to their expectations, Gillett begins playing on his show a track from their demo, a tune called ‘Sultans Of Swing’. It gets a good reaction. One of those who hear the merit in Dire Straits is Johnny Stainze, a recent appointee to Phonogram Records. Two months later, Dire Straits are signed to a recording contract with the Vertigo label, a division of Phonogram Inc. When they sign to Phonogram at the end of 1977 Dire Straits also gain a manager, Ed Bicknell.
The first task Ed Bicknell performs for Dire Straits is securing them a booking as the support act for the twenty-three date December 1977 U.K. tour by U.S. new wave band Talking Heads. Following this, Dire Straits begin their own recording career.
The music of Dire Straits is difficult to categorise. It is most commonly labelled roots rock, but they lack the insular devotion of such purists. In 1977 the British music scene is dominated by punk rock or its emerging cousin, new wave. Dire Straits are in the ‘wrong time, wrong place.’ Their style of music seems to come from somewhere else altogether. Rather than frenzied rants against the authorities, Dire Straits offer restrained sketches of those in quiet desperation. Group leader Mark Knopfler’s voice owes something to the nasal inflections of folk rock icon Bob Dylan and Knopfler’s lyrics are also redolent of Dylan’s narratives. Some see the influence of J. J. Cale’s laid-back blues-rock guitar-picking in Dire Straits’ music. Mark Knopfler says, “My idea of heaven is a place where the Tyne meets the Delta, where folk music meets the blues.” While this approach may initially see Dire Straits being out of step with the times, this individuality serves them well in the long run.
The focus of Dire Straits is on Mark Knopfler. In addition to being lead vocalist, his guitar playing is the group’s most distinctive characteristic. “Mark was our standard bearer and ticket to being exceptional rather than merely good,” claims younger brother guitarist David Knopfler. David adds, “He was actually rather humble at that point…[Bassist ] John Illsley and I pretty much dragged him to the altar all the way.” It is ‘hard to conjure a less likely rock star than [Mark] Knopfler, [who is] balding and outwardly taciturn.’
As well as being the frontman of Dire Straits, the band’s lead vocalist and lead guitarist, Mark Knopfler writes almost every song the group records. Any pieces that are not written by Mark Knopfler alone will have their authors credited here; otherwise all Dire Straits songs mentioned here are Mark Knopfler compositions. “For me, songwriting is really where it’s at,” says Mark. “There are portrait songs where there is a character, and there are situation songs where I’m in the picture…Other times, I could be reading a book and traveling and there is a collision of time and place…There’s a geography to the thing.”
With his roles as vocalist, lead guitarist and songwriter, it is not surprising that there is an impression that Mark Knopfler is ‘always the main force behind Dire Straits’ and that, ‘in essence, Dire Straits is a one-man show.’
The first – and best – single by Dire Straits is ‘Sultans Of Swing’ (UK no. 8, US no. 4, AUS no. 6), released in May 1978. This was the song favoured by disc jockey Charlie Gillett from Dire Straits’ five song demo tape. ‘Sultans Of Swing’ is a sympathetic account of a jazz group trying to eke out a living: “And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene / He’s got a daytime job, he’s doing alright / He can play the honky tonk like anything / Saving it up for Friday night / With the Sultans, the Sultans of Swing.” It is Mark Knopfler’s guitar, riding the waves of rhythm from the other musicians, that captures the attention. It darts in and out like a brightly coloured fish passing through seaweed. There are seemingly impossible feats of speedy fingers across the guitar neck as the song climaxes and fades. It may be just the shock of the new, that ‘Sultans Of Swing’ is so unexpected, but it still stands as the highpoint of the group’s output. Mark Knopfler wrote ‘Sultans Of Swing’ after seeing a jazz band playing in the corner of a virtually deserted pub in Deptford, South London. The band was called the Sultans of Swing and Knopfler was amused by the contrast between the ‘group’s dowdy appearance’ and their ‘grandiose name.’ The tune was originally composed on a National Steel guitar, but Knopfler was dissatisfied with the result. “I thought it was dull, but as soon as I bought my first Strat (i.e. Fender Stratocaster guitar) in 1977, the whole thing changed, though the lyrics remained the same. It just came alive as soon as I played it on that ’61 Strat which remained my main guitar for many years and was basically the only thing I played on the first album and the new chord changes just presented themselves and fell into place.” When it is released in May 1978, ‘Sultans Of Swing’ fails to make it to the singles chart. It is rereleased in January 1979. The song becomes a hit in the U.S.A. and this triggers sales in the U.K. and ‘Sultans Of Swing’ goes on to also be a hit in the home country of Dire Straits.
Between the release of the first single by Dire Straits and the launch of their debut album, the group begins their first full-scale tour as a headline act – though the tour does not end until after the album comes out. ‘The Dire Straits Tour’ commences on 6 June 1978 at the Lafayett Club in Wolverhampton. The band plays shows in the United Kingdom through June and July before going to Europe for gigs in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The tour winds up with some more dates in the U.K. concluding on 18 November 1978 at the College of Education in Hitchin. A total of fifty-five shows are played during this tour.
The debut album, ‘Dire Straits’ (1978) (UK no. 5, US no. 2, AUS no. 1), is released on 7 October. Like almost all the band’s recordings, this disc is issued on the Vertigo label. ‘Dire Straits’ is produced by Muff Winwood, the elder brother of rock star Steve Winwood. Both Winwood brothers were members of British rock band The Spencer Davis Group in the 1960s. Muff Winwood produces ‘Dire Straits’ ‘with commendable restraint and understanding.’ Unlike later album by Dire Straits, this recording sounds dirty and full of raw grittiness. The recording sessions took place at Basing Street Studios in London from 13 February 1978 to 5 March 1978. The album’s cover painting by Chuck Loyola is an indistinct, blurry image of what appears to be a young woman on an upper storey of a bleak, spartan, high-rise building. The Dire Straits Fender guitar logo on the back cover is designed by Geoff Halpern. ‘Dire Straits’ contains the debut single ‘Sultans Of Swing’. The follow-up single, ‘Water Of Love’ (AUS no. 54), is somewhat underrated. It has a steady rhythm framing the tale of a man who is “High and dry in the long hot day / Lost and lonely every way.” The guitar strains at the leash like it too wants the cool relief of ‘Water Of Love’. The water metaphor is also present in the moody opening track ‘Down To The Waterline.’ Emerging from a sonic fog like the light atop an incoming ship, Mark Knopfler’s guitar illuminates a couple on the wharf with “No money in our jackets and our jeans are torn / Your hands are cold but your lips are warm.” Supposedly, ‘Down To The Waterline’ is inspired by Mark Knopfler’s younger days in the port city of Newcastle. The slow and languorous hush of ‘Wild West End’ has Mark Knopfler licking his lips over “My conductress on the number nineteen / She was a honey / Pink toenails and hands all / Dirty with the money / Greasy, greasy, greasy hair / Easy smile / She made me feel 19 for a while.” These four songs – ‘Sultans Of Swing’, ‘Water Of Love’, ‘Down To The Waterline’ and ‘Wild West End’ – were all on the demo tape that helped Dire Straits secure a recording contract. The remaining song from the demo – guitarist David Knopfler’s ‘Sacred Loving’ – does not appear. Perhaps the most interesting of the remaining songs on the debut album is ‘In The Gallery’. This tale of a sculptor who finds fame after his death raises some eyebrows: “And now all the vultures are coming down from the trees / He’s gonna be / In the galla, galla, gallery.” Reportedly, the song is inspired by Leeds sculptor Harry Phillips, the father of Steve Phillips – the guitarist who was Mark Knopfler’s partner in the Duolian Stringpickers. But did Knopfler see this story as a parallel to his own group’s fortunes? That is probably not the case. He excels at third person narratives but his writing is less often personal. Yet many of the songs on ‘Dire Straits’ ‘reflect Knopfler’s experiences in Newcastle, Leeds and London.’ Perhaps it is this more personal than usual dimension, coupled with the grainy musical textures, that makes this the best album in the Dire Straits catalogue.
The album ‘Dire Straits’ is a slow burn success. It first breaks through in Holland, then Germany, then Australia. Warner Brothers release the album in the U.S.A. and it is only after it is a hit in that country that ‘Dire Straits’ really catches on in the United Kingdom.
Dire Straits’ second album, ‘Communique’ (1979) (UK no. 5, US no. 11, AUS no. 5), is released on 15 June. The album is recorded from 28 November 1978 to 12 December 1978 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau in the Bahamas. The album is co-produced by Barry Beckett and Jerry Wexler. Beckett plays keyboards on some songs (under the alias of B. Bear), prompting group leader Mark Knopfler to start thinking about having a permanent keyboard player in the band. The cover image of a lone figure on a moonlit tropical beach – an image seemingly painted on an envelope – is the work of Grant Advertising U.K. (record company Phonogram’s advertising agency). The punchy ‘Lady Writer’ (UK no. 51, US no. 45, AUS no. 95) is the ‘relatively unsuccessful single’ from ‘Communique’. ‘Lady Writer’, the brooding ‘News’ and the title track, ‘Communique’, all reflect Mark Knopfler’s past career as a journalist. In the song ‘Communique’, the sly groove supports Knopfler’s wary attitude towards the band’s new found media profile, though – characteristically – he phrases it in the third person: “Maybe he could talk about the tricks of the trade / Maybe he could talk about himself / Maybe he could talk about the money that he made / Maybe he be saying something else.” That, ‘something else’ could be a portrait of “A long gone Irish girl,” another person in dire straits, a ‘Portobello Belle’: “Bella Donna’s on the high street / Her breasts upon the off-beat / And the stalls are just the side shows / Victoriana’s old clothes.” The opening track, ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’, mixes cynicism about western society with what sounds like the soundtrack for a cowboy movie. At the other end of the album, the tropical setting of the recording sessions seeps through into ‘Single-Handed Sailor’ and the lapping waves of ‘Follow Me Home’. On the whole, Dire Straits’ ‘second album continues to follow a similar vein to the first.’
Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers follow the producers of ‘Communique’ – Barry Beckett and Jerry Wexler – over to the recording sessions for a new album by one of Knopfler’s key influences, Bob Dylan. Knopfler and Withers both appear on Dylan’s ‘Slow Train Coming’ (1979) (US no. 3, UK no. 2, AUS no. 1), released on 20 August.
Dire Straits undertake their first concert tour of the United States in 1979. The group plays fifty-one dates in that country. The promotion of ‘Communique’ concludes with U.K. concerts, the last of which is on 21 December 1979 in London.
In 1980 Dire Straits begin work on their third album. However, in August 1980 David Knopfler, younger brother of group leader Mark Knopfler, quits the group. It is said that ‘the brothers had an explosive argument’ leading to David’s exit. “I was building a democracy, and Mark was making an autocracy,” says David. One account suggests that David ‘left because he felt the band was becoming too big.’
The third Dire Straits album, ‘Making Movies’ (1980) (UK no. 4, US no. 19, AUS no. 6), is released on 17 October. This album is co-produced by Jimmy Iovine and Dire Straits’ leader, Mark Knopfler. The recording sessions take place at the Power Station in New York from 20 June 1980 to 25 August 1980. Guitarist David Knopfler had almost completed all his parts on this album before he quit, but big brother Mark Knopfler rerecords all those parts himself. An uncredited second guitarist, Sid McGinnis, also plays on ‘Making Movies’. Producer Jimmy Iovine had previously served as a recording engineer for U.S. rock star Bruce Springsteen. Through this connection, Iovine obtains the services of pianist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen’s backing group, The E-Street Band, to play on this album. Neither Sid McGinnis nor Roy Bittan becomes an official member of Dire Straits; they just play on the recording sessions for ‘Making Movies’. The album is limited to seven comparatively lengthy songs. The opening track – and longest song (8:09) – ‘Tunnel Of Love’ (UK no. 54, AUS no. 62) is prefaced by an excerpt from ‘The Carousel Waltz’ from the musical ‘Carousel’ (1945) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. ‘Tunnel Of Love’, a tale of romance in a seaside carnival, is also interpreted by some as Dire Straits’ own story of their rise to fame: “And the big wheel keep on turning / Neon burning up above / And I’m just high on this world.” ‘Tunnel Of Love’ showcases a new dynamism in the band’s sound and is less laid-back and melancholy. On the other hand, ‘Romeo And Juliet’ (UK no. 8) is perhaps the closest thing to a ballad yet assayed by Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler’s vocals are more hushed and the guitar-picking is quietly reflective. ‘Romeo And Juliet’ is, of course, named after the star-crossed lovers of William Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1597). More directly, ‘Romeo And Juliet’ is inspired by Mark Knopfler’s failed romance with Holly Beth Vincent of new wave band Holly And The Italians. This band is also managed by Ed Bicknell, Dire Straits’ manager. ‘Skateaway’ (UK no. 37, US no. 58), the story of a “roller girl” skating around the big city, is a zippy number that gives the album its title: “She’s making movies on vacation / She don’t know what it means.” Actually, a real title track – ‘Making Movies’ – is recorded, but doesn’t end up on the album. Another track that doesn’t make the final cut is ‘Twisting By The Pool’ – but Dire Straits will revisit that one later. Rounding out the contents of ‘Making Movies’ are: two hard-rocking tracks, ‘Expresso Love’ and ‘Solid Rock’; a semi-acoustic piece akin to ‘Romeo And Juliet’ called ‘Hand In Hand’; and the closing track, ‘Les Boys’, a camp goof. Overall, ‘Making Movies’ has a more sharp-edged rock sound. “’Making Movies’ was closer to what I like to do,” says Mark Knopfler.
Mark Knopfler plays guitar on ‘Time Out Of Mind’, a track on the album ‘Gaucho’ (1980) (US no. 9, UK no. 27, AUS no. 9) released in November by U.S. duo Steely Dan.
When Dire Straits go on a concert tour in 1980 to promote ‘Making Movies’, the group expands to a five-piece outfit with two new official members: Alan Clark (keyboards) and Hal Lindes (guitar).
Alan Clark is born on 3 March 1952 in Great Lumley, County Durham, England. He takes piano lessons as a child. Alan Clark attends Chester-le-Street Grammar School. While there, the 13 year old begins playing organ in workingmen’s clubs. Clark moves on to Durham Technical College and is offered a place at Guildhall School of Music but declines because, by then, he is already a working musician. Alan Clark plays keyboards on ‘No Good Woman’ (1978) by Geordie, the band that features future AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson. Other acts to whom Alan Clark lends his services include Splinter, Gallagher & Lyle and Lindisfarne. When Alan Clark joins Dire Straits in 1980 he becomes the group’s first official keyboards player.
Hal Andrew Lindes is born on 30 June 1983 in Monterey, California, U.S.A. His parents are Russian. Lindes first comes to attention in U.K. new wave band Darling. The line-up of this group is: Alice Spring (vocals), Hal Lindes (guitar), Mick Howard (bass) and Paul Varley (drums). Darling releases only one album, ‘Put It Down To Experience’ (1979). When Hal Lindes joins Dire Straits in 1980, his more chord-based guitar washes contrast nicely with Mark Knopfler’s note-based precise finger-picking approach to the guitar.
Dire Straits ‘On Location’ tour winds up on 6 July 1981 in Luxembourg.
Around this time, Dire Straits bassist John Illsley marries. His wife, Pauline, is an Australian woman. John and Pauline go on to have two children together, James (born in 1982) and Jessica (born in 1988).
‘Love Over Gold’ (1982) (UK no. 1, US no. 19, AUS no. 1) is the fourth Dire Straits album. It is released on 20 September. ‘Love Over Gold’ is produced by Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler. New group members Alan Clark (keyboards) and Hal Lindes (guitar) make their recording debuts with Dire Straits on this album. ‘Love Over Gold’ is recorded at the Power Station in New York from 8 March 1982 to 11 June 1982. ‘Love Over Gold’ furthers the formula from ‘Making Movies’, scaling down from seven tracks to a mere five (lengthy) pieces. The first single is ‘Private Investigations’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 21). This comes across as author Mark Knopfler’s audition for writing a movie score since it portrays a world-weary detective: “It’s a mystery to me / The game commences / For the usual fee / Plus expenses.” A steely-stringed semi-acoustic guitar accompanies the narrative, which is also punctuated by sound affects like footsteps and a key turning in a lock. ‘Industrial Disease’ (US no. 75) is a humorous piece with a nod to Knopfler’s old band, Brewer’s Droop, as a doctor (played by Knopfler) remarks, “You’ve got smoker’s cough from smoking / Brewer’s droop from drinking beer.” The opening track on the album, ‘Telegraph Road’ (14:15), uses a sprawling musical epic to chronicle nothing less than the birth and growth of a city. As the song nears its climax, it sounds like Knopfler is borrowing from Bruce Springsteen (whose keyboardist Roy Bittan appeared on ‘Making Movies’) for lines like these: “But believe in me baby and I’ll take you away / From out of this darkness and into the day / From these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rain / From the anger that lives on these streets with these names / ‘Cos I’ve run every red light on memory lane / I’ve seen desperation explode into flames / And I don’t want to see it again…” The title track, ‘Love Over Gold’, suggests that art is more valuable than commerce. The title of the song – and the album – is inspired by a piece of graffiti Mark Knopfler could see from the window of his old council flat in London. This graffiti, in turn, was taken from words on the sleeve of an album by rock eccentric Captain Beefheart. Both ‘Love Over Gold’ and the closing track, ‘It Never Rains’, give free rein to Alan Clark’s delicate piano work – though ‘It Never Rains’ expands into something more elaborate in musical terms. ‘Love Over Gold’ is ‘an album of songs filled with lengthy, experimental passages.’ Note: Three additional songs are created for ‘Love Over Gold’ but do not end up on the album. ‘Private Dancer’ is given away to Tina Turner and becomes the title track of her 1984 album. ‘The Way It Always Goes’ shows up on a movie soundtrack Mark Knopfler goes on to create. ‘Badges, Posters, Stickers And T-Shirts’ becomes the B side of the U.K. single ‘Private Investigations’.
Shortly after the release of ‘Love Over Gold’, drummer Pick Withers leaves Dire Straits. He leaves to spend more time with his family. He felt he was in danger of ‘becoming a rock drummer.’ The departure of Withers leaves only leader Mark Knopfler and bassist John Illsley from the original Dire Straits line-up. Mark Knopfler and John Illsley are the only people who are in every Dire Straits line-up. Replacing Pick Withers in Dire Straits is Terry Williams.
Terry Williams is born Terrence Williams on 11 January 1948 in Swansea, Wales. In the 1960s, he plays drums for such Welsh bands as The Commancheros, The Smokeless Zone, Dream and Plum Crazy. Guitarist Deke Leonard and bassist Martin Ace both work with Williams in The Smokeless Zone and Dream – and will work with him again. Love Sculpture (1966-1970) is a group fronted by noted Welsh guitarist Dave Edmunds. (It may be recalled that, in the mid-1970s, original Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers was the house drummer at Edmund’s Rockfield Studio.) When Terry Williams joins Love Sculpture in 1970, the group’s line-up comprises: Dave Edmunds (vocals, guitar), Mickey Gee (guitar), John David (bass) and Terry Williams (drums). Terry Williams does not play on any of Love Sculpture’s recordings; he joins in the dying days of the band. The next stop for Terry Williams is the Welsh group Man (1970-1976). Note: Man was formed in 1969. Jeff Jones plays drums on their first two albums, ‘Revelation’ (1969) and ‘2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Whole In The Middle’ (1969). Terry Williams appears on the following Man albums: ‘Man’ (1971), ‘Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In’ (1971), ‘Greasy Truckers Party’ (1972) [with other artists], ‘Live At The Padget Rooms, Penarth’ (1972), ‘Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day’ (1972), ‘Christmas At The Patti’ (1973) [with other artists], ‘Back Into The Future’ (1973), ‘Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics’ (1974) (UK no. 24), ‘Slow Motion’ (1974), ‘Maximum Darkness’ (1975) (UK no. 25), ‘The Welsh Connection’ (1976) and ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ (1977). The membership history of Man is long and complicated, with musicians leaving and returning again. The line-up is: Micky Jones (vocals, guitar) (1971-1977), Deke Leonard (guitar, vocals) (1969-1972, 1974-1977), Tweke Lewis (guitar) (1973), Malcolm Morley (guitar, keyboards, vocals) (1974), John Cipollina (guest guitarist) (1975), Clive John (keyboards, vocals) (1969-1971, 1972-1973), Phil Ryan (keyboards, vocals) (1972-1973, 1976-1977), Ray Williams (bass) (1969), Martin Ace (bass,vocals) (1971-1972, 1975), Will Youatt (bass, vocals) (1972-1973), Ken Whaley (bass) (1974), John McKenzie (bass, vocals) (1976-1977), Jeff Jones (drums) (1969) and Terry Williams (drums) (1970-1977). After Man runs its course, Terry Williams moves on to Rockpile (1976-1981). This outfit reunites Williams with Dave Edmunds. The full line-up of Rockpile is: Dave Edmunds (vocals, guitar), Nick Lowe (vocals, bass), Billy Bremner (guitar) and Terry Williams (drums). Rockpile has a rather unusual existence, providing backing on solo albums by group leaders Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Only one album is actually credited to Rockpile: ‘Seconds Of Pleasure’ (1980) (UK no. 31, US no. 27). Next, Terry Williams has a short stint in Neverland Express (1981-1982), the backing group for U.S. singer Meatloaf. Terry Williams goes on to join Dire Straits in November 1982.
Following closely after ‘Love Over Gold’, Dire Straits release the ‘ExtendedancEPlay’ EP (US no. 53) on 10 January 1983. This EP is produced by Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler and is the first of the group’s recordings to feature new drummer Terry Williams. The lighter nature of the ‘ExtendedancEPlay’ disc tries to correct the balance from the – generally – rather sober ‘Love Over Gold’. The featured song is the purposefully silly ‘Twisting By The Pool’ (UK no. 14, AUS no. 2). Terry Williams imparts a party vibe to this track along with its companions ‘Two Young Lovers’ and ‘If I Had You’. Mel Collins makes a guest appearance on saxophone on this EP. The contents of this EP are all uptempo songs, though they do sometimes sound rather old-fashioned. In the U.S.A., ‘Badges, Posters, Stickers And T-Shirts’ (recorded when Pick Withers was still with the group) is added as a fourth track on this EP.
‘Local Hero’ (1983), released in March, is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. ‘Local Hero’ is also the first solo album by Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler. The only song with vocals on this set is ‘The Way It Always Starts’. This song was left off ‘Love Over Gold’ but is reincarnated here with a lead vocal from U.K. singer Gerry Rafferty. The rest of the album consists of moody, atmospheric instrumentals. The best of these is the closing track, the triumphal ‘Going Home’. Although this is Mark Knopfler’s first movie soundtrack, he will provide more such soundtracks over subsequent years.
When Dire Straits go on tour in 1983 to promote both ‘Love Over Gold’ and the ‘ExtendedancEPlay’ EP, they are joined by Tommy Mandel (keyboards) to help ease the burden on keyboardist Alan Clark. Mandel does not officially join Dire Straits; he is only part of this tour.
Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler produces Bob Dylan’s album ‘Infidels’ (1983) (US no. 20, UK no. 9, AUS no. 6), released on 27 October. Dire Straits keyboardist Alan Clark is one of the musicians on this recording.
In November 1983, Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler marries his second wife, Lourdes Salomone. She was working for Warner Bros. Records when Mark met her. Mark and Lourdes go on to have twin sons, Benji and Joseph (both born in 1987).
‘Alchemy: Dire Straits Live’ (1984) (UK no. 3, US no. 46, AUS no. 3), the band’s first concert recording, is released on 12 March. The performances on this disc were recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 22-23 July 1983. From this set, ‘Love Over Gold (Live)’ (UK no. 50, AUS no. 46) reaches the singles chart.
‘Comfort And Joy’ is a three song, twelve-inch EP issued on 27 July 1984. Its total running time is only 11:30. Credited to Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler, ‘Comfort And Joy’ is his second movie soundtrack project.
‘Cal’ (1984), released on 24 August, is another Mark Knopfler composed movie soundtrack. Unlike its predecessor, ‘Comfort And Joy’, ‘Cal’ is a full-length album.
Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler produces the album ‘Knife’ (1984) (UK no. 14, US no. 188) by the Scottish act Aztec Camera.
Dire Straits bassist John Illsley releases his first solo album, ‘Never Told A Soul’ (1984). Illsley takes the roles of lead vocalist, bassist and guitarist for this disc. His Dire Straits comrades Mark Knopfler (guitar) and Terry Williams (drums) also contribute to Illsley’s album.
After completing the tour to promote ‘Love Over Gold’ and the ‘ExtendedancEPplay’ EP, second keyboardist Tommy Mandel returned to his work as a session musician. However, the decision is made for Dire Straits to add an official additional keyboardist. Guy Fletcher takes on this role in 1984.
Guy Edward Fletcher is born on 24 May 1960 in Maidstone, Kent, England. His father, Ted Fletcher, is a designer of audio equipment. Guy’s mother, Barbara, was a session music singer. Additionally, Guy’s namesake uncle was a songwriter, working in partnership with Doug Flett. Given this family background, it is not surprising that Guy Fletcher also gravitates towards the music business. When he is 15, Guy starts studying audio engineering at DJM Studios in London. Guy also learns to play both keyboards and guitar. He tours with Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel in 1979 and 1981 and with Roxy Music on the tour to promote their album ‘Avalon’ (1982) (UK no. 1, US no. 53). Guy Fletcher first works with Mark Knopfler in 1983 on the soundtracks for ‘Comfort And Joy’ and ‘Cal’. Although Guy Fletcher is added to Dire Straits in 1984 as a second keyboardist, his talents as a guitarist and backing vocalist are also put to use by the band.
As work begins on Dire Straits’ fifth studio album, guitarist Hal Lindes leaves the group. This necessitates another membership change for Dire Straits. Guitarist Jack Sonni joins the band in 1985.
Jack Sonni is born John Thomas Sonni on 9 December 1954 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. He is named after his Italian grandfather Giovanni Tommaso. The boy takes an early interest in music learning first piano, then trumpet. When he is 14, Sonni switches to guitar. When he starts college, John Sunni begins being called Jack. He studies literature at the University of Connecticut before abandoning that to attend the Hartford Conservatory of Music. Session guitarist Elliott Randall (perhaps best known for playing on the 1972 Steely Dan song ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ (US no. 11, AUS no. 62)) becomes Jack Sonni’s mentor and encourages Jack to move to New York. Although he resides in that metropolis from 1976 to 1985, Jack Sonni finds only a limited amount of work as a session guitarist. In the late 1970s, Jack Sonni plays some gigs with his own band, The Leisure Class. To make ends meet, Sonni also works at Rudy’s Music Shop, an instrument emporium in New York. It is there in 1978 that Jack Sonni first meets Mark Knopfler when the visiting British guitarist looks over the shop’s wares. Sonni must have made a good impression because, in 1985, Knopfler invites Sonni to join Dire Straits.
‘Brothers In Arms’ (1985) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is the title of the Dire Straits album released on 13 May. The disc is co-produced by Neil Dorfsman and Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler. ‘Brothers In Arms’ is recorded from November 1984 to March 1985 at AIR Studios in Montserrat, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. It is one of the first albums to forsake the traditional analogue recording tape in favour of Sony twenty-four track digital tape. The first single from ‘Brothers In Arms’ is the laid-back and low-key ‘So Far Away’ (UK no. 20, US no. 19, AUS no. 22). Although ‘So Far Away’ is both pleasant and popular, it does little to prepare audiences for the album’s second single, a song fated to become the most commercially successful single by Dire Straits. Firstly, ‘Money For Nothing’ (UK no. 4, US no. 1, AUS no. 4) has an instrumental sound that is quite different from previous Dire Straits fare. Instead of fiery Fender fretworks or finger-pickin’ semi-acoustics, ‘Money For Nothing’ has an uncharacteristic fat and fuzzy guitar tone. This ‘fuzz’ sound is said to be a ‘happy accident’ that results from Mark Knopfler using a closely-miked Gibson Les Paul electric guitar rather than his more familiar instruments in an attempt to replicate the sound of U.S. boogie rock act ZZ Top. Secondly, ‘Money For Nothing’ is written in character. Although this is not the first time Mark Knopfler has written in the voice of a different persona (e.g. ‘Private Dancer’), this is the most famous example. Knopfler explains, “The lead character in ‘Money For Nothing’ is a guy who works in the hardware department in a television / custom kitchen / refrigerator / microwave appliance store. He’s singing the song. I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real.” It is this character who derides a pop star, enviously saying, “That ain’t working / That’s the way you do it / Money for nothin’ / And your chicks for free.” Nikki Sixx, bassist for U.S. heavy metal band Motley Crue, has claimed that it was his group on TV at the time the workman made such comments within earshot of Mark Knopfler. At one point, the song’s narrator sneers, “See the little faggot with the earring and the make-up? / Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair / That little faggot’s got his own jet airplane / That little faggot, he’s a millionaire.” Not every listener understands that Mark Knopfler is writing in the voice of an assumed character, so ‘Money For Nothing’ gives rise to some controversy about homophobia. Sensitive to the comments, the offending lines are sometimes edited out of later editions of the song. Another distinguishing element of ‘Money For Nothing’ is the backing vocal by Sting, formerly the vocalist of U.K. new wave band The Police and just now starting his own solo career. Bassist John Illsley says, “Sting used to come to Montserrat to go windsurfing, and he came up for supper at the studio. We played him ‘Money For Nothing’ and he turned round and said: ‘You’ve done it this time, you b*st*rds.’ Mark [Knopfler] said if he thought it was so good why didn’t he go and add something to it. He did his bit there and then.” Sting provides high harmonies and the opening wail of “I want my MTV.” This is a reference to the U.S. cable television network MTV (Music Television) that plays non-stop music videos. Sting gest a co-writing credit with Mark Knopfler on ‘Money For Nothing’, not so much for “I want my MTV” but because he sings that line to the tune of the 1980 Police hit ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ (UK no. 1, US no. 10) which Sting wrote. Knopfler’s lyrics also get in the barb “You play the git-tar on the MTV.” Ironically, the computer animated video for ‘Money For Nothing’ is a ‘huge MTV hit.’ By current technological standards, it looks very primitive but, at the time, the animation was state-of-the-art. The computer animation was used in large part because Mark Knopfler wasn’t enthusiastic about appearing in a video. Instead, an animated version of a large, brutish workman mouths Knopfler’s lyrics while his skinny offsider lip synchs Sting’s harmonies. In the smaller amount of Dire Straits live footage interspersed in the video, Knopfler wears a headband to hold back his thinning thatch of hair. Although it makes him look a bit like he’s just wandered in from a tennis court, the sweatband becomes one of the visual trademarks most associated with the guitarist. The title track, ‘Brothers In Arms’ (UK no. 16, AUS no. 57), is a tone poem soldier’s lament. This track (which closes the album) together with ‘Ride Across The River’ and ‘The Man’s Too Strong’ comprise a trilogy of atmospheric tracks built around the theme of militarism. ‘Walk Of Life’ (UK no. 2, US no. 7, AUS no. 11) is another cheesy pseudo-1950s song in the vein of 1983’s ‘Twisting By The Pool’ but it is fun and proves to be amongst Dire Straits’ most popular songs. ‘Your Latest Trick’ (UK no. 26) features a smoky saxophone part by Michael Brecker. ‘Brothers In Arms’ has the Dire Straits recording debuts for both Guy Fletcher (keyboards, guitar) and Jack Sonni (guitar). By contrast, during the first months of recording, drummer Terry Williams is ‘found unsuitable.’ Session musician Omar Hakim plays drums on most of the album. Williams’ contributions to ‘Brothers In Arms’ are ‘minimal’ but he and Omar Hakim are both credited as drummers on this album. Andy Canavan fills in on drums for a few gigs but, by the time Dire Straits embark on a world tour, Terry Williams is back on board. In addition to those musicians already mentioned, other guest musicians on ‘Brothers In Arms’ include Chris White (saxophone) [who will soon come to join the group], Randy Brecker (trumpet), Neil Jason (bass) and Tony Levin (bass). ‘Brothers In Arms’ has a ‘more lavish production and overall sound’ than earlier Dire Straits albums. It is described as their ‘breakthrough album, making the band international stars’ but this seems a bit of a distortion. From their first album, Dire Straits had international success, sometimes more readily than they experienced success in more traditional markets. Their U.K. success has been fairly consistent but, after their debut album, the group’s fortunes in the U.S. had been less impressive until ‘Brothers In Arms’. This disc goes multi-platinum in the U.S., selling nine million copies. ‘Brothers In Arms’ spends two hundred and thirty-eight weeks in the U.K. albums chart and tops the Australian albums chart for thirty-four weeks. By any commercial standard, ‘Brothers In Arms’ is huge.
There is another noteworthy aspect to the success of ‘Brothers In Arms’. It is ‘one of the first albums to be directed at the CD [compact disc] market’ rather than the more traditional vinyl records audience. It is the first CD album to sell over a million copies and to outsell its vinyl counterpart. The title track, ‘Brothers In Arms’, is the first CD single – though it has a very limited run. Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler ‘becomes the darling of a new generation [of] relatively well-to-do compact disc buyers.’
During the world tour to promote ‘Brothers In Arms’, Dire Straits adds a seventh member: saxophonist Chris White.
Chris White is born on 13 July 1955 in Bristol, England. He attends Lawrence Weston Secondary School. While at that school, the 13 year old takes up playing saxophone. Chris White begins playing gigs a couple of years later and tours with a national youth jazz orchestra. He joins Dire Straits in 1985.
The 1985-1986 world tour to promote ‘Brothers In Arms’ kicks off in Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) on 25 April 1985 – almost a month before the album is released. During the tour, Dire Straits take time out to participate in Live Aid, the all-star charity concerts to raise funds to fight famine in Africa. Dire Straits appear at the Live Aid show on 13 July 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London. The group performs two songs: ‘Money For Nothing’ (with a guest appearance by Sting) and ‘Sultans Of Swing’. Dire Straits’ world tour winds up at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Australia on 26 April 1986.
The marriage of Dire Straits bassist John Illsley and his wife Pauline is described as being ‘on [the] rocks’ in 1986 due to John’s relationship with Tracey Wallace, a former ‘Penthouse’ magazine ‘Pet of the Year.’ Whatever the stresses the couple may be experiencing, John and Pauline apparently reconcile sufficiently to have a second child together, their daughter Jessica (born in 1988).
After the end of the Dire Straits tour in 1986, guitarist Jack Sonni stays on in Australia for a while. In that country, Jack meets the woman who will become his wife. She is not publicly identified. Jack and his wife have twin daughters, Caitlin and Nadine (both born in 1988). Jack’s wife does not remain on the scene and so he raises the two girls as a single parent.
Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler participates in the celebrity challenge car race at the Australian Grand Prix. Knopfler is one of the leading contenders before he is injured in an accident on Sunday, 19 October 1986. The guitarist is removed from his vehicle suffering from shock and a possible fractured collarbone.
Knopfler produces the album ‘Miracle’ (1987) by Willy DeVille. This disc is issued on 31 October. Less than a fortnight later, on 12 November Mark Knopfler releases his soundtrack for the movie ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987).
Dire Straits are on the bill at London’s Wembley Stadium on 18 July 1988 for the 70th birthday celebration honouring South African political identity Nelson Mandela. Guitarist Jack Sonni is absent from this gig because Sonni has just become a father to twin daughters. Famed guitarist Eric Clapton fills in for Jack Sonni on this occasion. When it becomes clear that Jack Sonni will have to raise his children alone, he resigns from Dire Straits in 1988.
Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler serves as producer on Randy Newman’s album ‘Land Of Dreams’ (1988) (US no. 80), released in September.
In September 1988 Mark Knopfler announces the dissolution of Dire Straits. “A lot of press reports were saying we were the biggest band in the world,” says Knopfler. “There’s not an accent on the music, there’s an accent on popularity. I needed a rest.” As events unfold, Knopfler’s pronouncement of the band’s dissolution proves to be a bit premature.
‘Money For Nothing’ (1988) (UK no. 1, US no. 62, AUS no. 3), released on 17 October, is a collection of the biggest hits and best known songs by Dire Straits. ‘Sultans Of Swing’ (UK no. 62) is rereleased as a single from this album and manages a modest showing on the U.K. singles chart.
Dire Straits bassist John Illsley releases his second solo album, ‘Glass’ (1988). Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler makes a guest appearance on Illsley’s second album, just as he did on the bassist’s first solo outing.
Drummer Terry Williams officially leaves Dire Straits in 1989 – but the band’s future seems questionable at the time.
‘Last Exit To Brooklyn’ (1989) is another movie soundtrack album composed by Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler.
Mark Knopfler surfaces in the company of The Notting Hillbillies in 1990. This act consists of: Mark Knopfler (vocals, guitar), Brendan Croker (guitar, vocals), Steve Phillips (guitar, vocals), Paul Franklin (pedal steel guitar), Guy Fletcher (keyboards, vocals), Marcus Cliff (bass) and Ed Bicknell (drums). Steve Phillips worked with Knopfler in the pre-Dire Straits twosome The Duolian Stringpickers; Guy Fletcher is still part of Dire Straits; and Ed Bicknell is the manager of Dire Straits. Although The Notting Hillbillies look like an ongoing project, they release only one album, ‘Missing…Presumed Having A Good Time’ (1990) (UK no. 2, US no. 52, AUS no. 6) (from which comes the single ‘Your Own Sweet Way’) before dissolving. Mark Knopfler goes on to record ‘Neck And Neck’ (1990) (UK no. 41, US no. 127), a duet album with famed country music guitarist Chet Atkins.
Dire Straits briefly reconvene to play the 1990 Knebworth Festival in England alongside U.K. rock stars Elton John and Eric Clapton. A (non-charting) EP, ‘Live At Knebworth’, is released in 1990 to mark the occasion.
Dire Straits saxophonist Chris White releases a solo album, ‘Shadowdance’ (1991).
‘On Every Street’ (1991) (UK no. 1, US no. 12, AUS no. 1), released on 9 September, is a new album by Dire Straits. The album is produced by two members of the band, leader Mark Knopfler and keyboardist Alan Clark. It has been six years since the last Dire Straits album, ‘Brothers In Arms’ (1985). For ‘On Every Street’, Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler (vocals, guitar), Alan Clark (keyboards), Guy Fletcher (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), John Illsley (bass) and Chris White (saxophone) – is augmented by a variety of session musicians. Chief amongst these guests is Jeff Porcaro (drums). Porcaro is subsequently asked to tour with Dire Straits by declines due to his pre-existing commitments with the U.S. group Toto. Other guests include Phil Palmer (guitar) [the nephew of Ray & Dave Davies of U.K. rock band The Kinks], Paul Franklin (pedal steel guitar) [from The Notting Hillbillies] and Danny Cummings (percussion). The first single from ‘On Every Street’ is ‘Calling Elvis’ (UK no. 21, AUS no. 8), an invocation of Elvis Presley, the 1950s King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This rollicking tune is written from the viewpoint of a fan who believes Elvis is still alive. The song is inspired by Mark Knopfler’s brother-in-law who has difficulty contacting Mark on the telephone. He tells Mark that the guitarist is ‘harder to get hold of than Elvis.’ ‘Heavy Fuel’ (UK no. 55, AUS no. 26) tries to recapture the vibe of ‘Money For Nothing’. ‘Heavy Fuel’ is written in the voice of a roadie, the hard-labouring individuals who set up transport and stages for rock stars. The title track, ‘On Every Street’ (UK no. 42), is downbeat and lovelorn – though the pace picks up a bit in the final stretch after the vocals conclude on this piano-based tune. ‘The Bug’ (UK no. 67) is a rockabilly toe-tapper. Two more songs are lifted from ‘On Every Street’ as singles – but only for European markets. France and Germany get ‘You And Your Friend’, an atmospheric and vaguely sinister song with pointed guitar work. The Netherlands receive ‘Ticket To Heaven’, a sort of old-fashioned pre-rock song marked by soaring strings and acoustic guitar. ‘On Every Street’ receives ‘mixed reviews and is not as popular – or as successful – as its predecessor.’ However, when that predecessor is the blockbusting ‘Brothers In Arms’, such an outcome is hardly surprising.
In 1991, as Dire Straits prepare to tour and promote ‘On Every Street’, a decision is made to add two more official members to the group’s line-up: Chris Whitten (drums) and Paul Franklin (pedal steel guitar).
Chris Whitten is born on 26 March 1959 in Wimbledon, London, England. He works as a session musician before joining Dire Straits as the drummer for their 1991-1992 world tour.
Paul V. Franklin is born on 31 May 1954 in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. Franklin’s speciality is pedal steel guitar, the instrument that provides the ‘weeping’ sound – long, keening notes – most often associated with country music. Paul Franklin’s first notable gig is in 1978 as part of Barbara Mandrell’s touring band. Subsequently, he works with such country music singers as Vince Gill, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed. Paul Franklin serves alongside Mark Knopfler in the 1990 Notting Hillbillies project before joining Dire Straits in 1991.
The ‘On Every Street’ tour is said to be ‘a disappointment, with many tickets going unsold in both the U.S. and Europe.’ The final show takes place in Zaragoza, Spain, on 9 October 1992.
With the tour concluded, drummer Chris Whitten resigns from Dire Straits in 1992, concluding his relatively short stint as a member of the group.
‘On The Night’ (1993) (UK no. 4, US no. 116, AUS no. 5), released on 10 May, is a live album by Dire Straits. The recordings here come from the ‘On Every Street’ tour, specifically shows at Les Arenas, Nimes, France, in May 1992 and Feijenoord Stadium, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, also in May 1992. An additional live EP, ‘Encores’ (UK no. 31, AUS no. 47), is released on the same date as the album with songs that were also recorded in May 1992.
‘Screenplaying’ (1993) is a compilation album of the soundtrack works by Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler.
The marriage of Mark Knopfler and his second wife, Lourdes Salomone, comes to an end in 1993.
Dire Straits officially disband in 1995. “After a while, though, the group just wasn’t a good vehicle for the songs I’d written,” claims Mark Knopfler.
Dire Straits never reunite as a group in any lasting or significant manner. However, there are some close calls, so let’s chronicle those.
Dire Straits reassemble for the second wedding of the group’s ex-bassist John Illsley on 19 June 1999. On this occasion, the band consists of: Mark Knopfler (vocals, guitar), Alan Clark (keyboards), Guy Fletcher (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), John Illsley (bass) and the band’s former manager Ed Bicknell (drums). Dire Straits play five songs including a cover version of the 1964 Chuck Berry song ‘Nadine’.
In 2002 Dire Straits reforms for four charity concerts in London and Beaulieu Abbey. In the first half of each show, Mark Knopfler and Brendan Croker play some Notting Hillbillies material. In the second half, Knopfler is joined by Guy Fletcher (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Chris White (saxophone), John Illsley (bass) and Danny Cummings (drums) to play some Dire Straits songs. (Note: Danny Cummings was never officially a member of Dire Straits but he provided percussion for ‘On Every Street’ and subsequently accompanied Mark Knopfler on the guitarist’s solo work and also did the same for Guy Fletcher.) Vocalist Jimmy Nail also makes a guest appearance at one of these charity shows.
In October 2008 bassist John Illsley tries to convince Mark Knopfler to reactivate Dire Straits – but this attempt is unsuccessful.
In 2011 keyboardist Alan Clark puts together The Straits, a group designed to play some shows featuring the music of Dire Straits. His companions in this project are: Phil Palmer (guitar), Chris White (saxophone) and Steve Ferrone (drums). (Note: Phil Palmer was never officially a member of Dire Straits but contributed guitar to the album ‘On Every Street’. Steve Ferrone was never in Dire Straits either; most recently he has been playing with U.S. rock band Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.)
Around 2012, saxophonist Chris White creates The Dire Straits Experience. The other musicians involved are: Terence Reis (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Walters (guitar, vocals), Simon Carter (keyboards), Danny Schogger (keyboards), Paul Geary (bass, vocals) and Chris Whitten (drums). Aside from Chris White, the only member of The Dire Straits Experience who has some history with the band to whom they are paying tribute is Chris Whitten who played drums on Dire Straits’ 1991-1992 tour.
The music of Dire Straits is also kept alive by compilation sets and concert recordings. ‘Live At The BBC’ (1995) (UK no. 71, AUS no. 98) has eight tracks. The first seven tracks on this set were recorded for BBC Live in Concert on 22 July 1978; the eighth track, ‘Tunnel Of Love’, comes from The Old Grey Whistle Test on 31 January 1981. ‘Sultans Of Swing: The Very Best Of Dire Straits’ (1998) (UK no. 6, AUs no. 4) is a compilation album. A two disc version, with one disc consisting of material recorded live, is also initially available. ‘Private Investigations’ (2005) (UK no. 20, AUS no. 35) (on the Mercury label) is also available in one and two disc versions. This compilation includes Mark Knopfler solo recordings as well as Dire Straits material. ‘The Studio Albums 1978-1991’ (2013) is a box set of Dire Straits’ catalogue. ‘The Honky Tonk Demos’, released as an EP on 18 April 2015, is the clutch of songs disc jockey Charlie Gillett first heard from Dire Straits.
What about the lives of the individual former members of Dire Straits?
Former Dire Straits’ leader, vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and producer Mark Knopfler starts a career as a solo artist. He has no hit singles and his solo career seems – intentionally – more low-key than his years with Dire Straits. “I put the thing [of being a rock star] to bed because I wanted to get back to some kind of reality. It’s self-protection, a survival thing…I remember going into catering on the last Straits tour and not recognising the drivers, and I just knew it wasn’t right,” says Knopfler. He releases the following recordings after Dire Straits folds in 1995: ‘Golden Heart’ (1996) (UK no. 9, US no. 105, AUS no. 28); ‘Wag The Dog’ (1998) [soundtrack]; ‘Metroland’ (1999) [soundtrack]; ‘Sailing To Philadelphia’ (2000) (UK no. 4, US no. 60, AUS no. 16); ‘A Shot At Glory’ (2002) [soundtrack]; ‘The Ragpicker’s Dream’ (2002) (UK no. 7, US no. 38, AUS no. 47); ‘Shangri-La’ (2004) (UK no. 11, US no. 66, AUS no. 69); ‘All The Roadrunning’ (2006) (UK no. 8, US no. 17, AUS no. 41) – with country rock singer Emmylou Harris; ‘Real Live Roadrunning’ (2006) – in concert with Emmylou Harris; ‘Kill To Get Crimson’ (2007) (UK no. 9, US no. 26, AUS no. 41); ‘Get Lucky’ (2009) (UK no. 9, US no. 17, AUS no. 43); Knopfler produces Bap Kennedy’s ‘The Sailor’s Revenge’ (2012); ‘Privateering’ (2012) (UK no. 8, US no. 65, AUS no. 25); ‘Tracker’ (2015) (UK no. 3, US no. 14, AUS no. 12); and ‘Altamira’ (2016) – with Evelyn Glennie [soundtrack]. In 2000 Mark Knopfler is awarded an O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to music.
On 14 February 1997 Mark Knopfler marries his third wife, U.K. actress Kitty Aldridge, in Barbados. Born in Bahrain in 1962, Kitty Aldridge was previously married to Neil Sundstrom. Kitty Aldridge’s acting credits include ‘Room with a View’ (1985), ‘Maurice’ (1987) and ‘Slipstream’ (1989). Mark and Kitty have two daughters, Isabella (born in 1998) and Katya Ruby Rose (born in 2003). Together with Mark’s twin sons Benji and Joseph (both born in 1987) from his second marriage to Lourdes Salomone, the guitarist has four children.
Former Dire Straits guitarist David Knopfler releases the following albums after leaving Dire Straits in 1980: ‘Release’ (1983) (UK no. 82); ‘Behind The Lines’ (1985); ‘Cut The Wire’ (1986); ‘Jacob Hinter Der Blauen Tur’ (1987) [soundtrack]; ‘Lips Against The Steel’ (1989); ‘Laser Mission’ (1989) [soundtrack]; ‘Lifelines’ (1991); ‘The Giver’ (1993); ‘Small Mercies’ (1995); ‘Bathory’ (2000) [soundtrack]; ‘Wishbones’ (2001); ‘Ship Of Dreams’ (2004); ‘Songs For The Siren’ (2006); ‘Anthology 1 1983-2008’ (2009); ‘Acoustic’ (2011) – with Harry Bogdanovs; ‘Made In Germany (Live In Enfurt)’ (2013) – with Harry Bogdanovs; ‘Grace’ (2015); and ‘Anthology Vol. 2 & 3’ (2016). Additionally, David Knopfler pens two books: ‘Bluffer’s Guide to the Music Business’ (1996) and ‘Bloodstones and Rhythmic Beasts’ (2005). The latter title, published by Blackwing Books, is a book of poetry.
David Knopfler is married to English teacher Anna Perrera from March 1984 to 2010. David and Anna have a child but the name, gender and birthdate of their offspring does not appear to be public knowledge. After David and Anna split, Anna Perrera becomes a novelist, publishing her first book in 2001. By 2013, David Knopfler is married to his second wife, art professor Leslie Stroz. David Knopfler remains estranged from his elder brother Mark Knopfler for much of their adult lives.
Former Dire Straits bassist John Illsley meets Celtic rock band Cunla in 2005, an act whose chief songwriter is Greg Pearle and their violinist is Johnny Owens. ‘Live In Les Beaux De Provence’ (2007) is credited to John Illsley with Cunla and Greg Pearle. ‘Beautiful You’ (2008) is credited to John Illsley and Greg Pearle. Subsequently, John Illsley releases the following solo albums: ‘Streets Of Heaven’ (2010); ‘Testing The Water’ (2014); ‘Live In London’ (2014); and ‘Long Shadows’ (2016).
It is not clear exactly when John Illsley’s marriage to his first wife, Pauline, ended but it was probably sometime around 1988. John marries his second wife, Stephanie, on 19 June 1999. By that time, John and Stephanie are already the parents of a son, Harry (born in 1997) and a daughter, DeeDee (born in 1998). Together with the children from his first marriage, James (born in 1982) and Jessica (born in 1988), John Illsley is the father of four children. In 1999 – the same year in which he marries Stephanie – John Illsley learns that he has leukaemia. Many years of medical treatments follow. The turning point is when John receives a stem cell transplant from his elder sister, Pat. Since 2011 Illsley has been free of the disease. John Illsley is a ‘keen painter’ as well as being a musician. Additionally, he owns a pub, ‘The East End Arms’, in East End (between Lymington and Beaulieu).
When drummer Pick Withers left Dire Straits in 1982, it was partly due to a desire to ‘spend more time with family.’ However Withers has largely kept the details of his family out of the public’s knowledge. It is known that, by 2011, Pick Withers is a widower. He has three children and at least one of them is female. In 2011 Pick Withers is said to be working at a school.
Former Dire Straits keyboardist Alan Clark plays the music of his former band with The Straits in 2011. In 2015 Alan Clark has a new band, Y-Company: Jamie Squire (vocals, guitar), Adam Phillips (guitar), Alan Clark (keyboards), Jake Newman (bass) and Andy Treacey (drums).
Former Dire Straits guitarist Hal Lindes composes the soundtrack for the movie ‘The Boys are Back’ (2009). Around 1990, Hal Lindes marries Mary Lovett, a model who was the first wife of U.K. pop star Peter Frampton from 1972 to 1976. Hal and Mary have three children: a son named Misha (born in 1991), a daughter named Nastassia (born in 1993) and a daughter named Evangeline (born in 2000?). Misha Lindes does some modelling work. In 2013 he forms a band called SadGirl. Like her brother, Nastassia ‘Staz’ Lindes combines modelling and music. Her band is called The Paranoyds (or The Paranoids). Evangeline Lindes is a model and actress who appears in ‘My Life in Venice Beach’ (2014), ‘Bad Little Fairies’ (2016) and ‘Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television’ (2017).
Former Dire Straits drummer Terry Williams rejoins his earlier group, Man, in 1996, replacing John Weathers. However, Terry Williams leaves Man again in 1997. Williams is an in-demand session musician playing on many albums. Around 2000, Terry Williams has a girlfriend named Louise. From 2000 to 2007 Terry Williams runs a blues club in Swansea, Wales.
Former Dire Straits keyboardist and guitarist Guy Fletcher tours with former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry in 1996. Guy Fletcher appears on many of the solo albums by former Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler. Fletcher also has a solo career, releasing the following albums under his own name: ‘Inamorata’ (2008), ‘Stone’ (2009), ‘Natural Selection’ (2010) and ‘High Roads’ (2016). At some point, Guy Fletcher also marries. He and his California-born wife, Laura, have two children, Max and Leon.
Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni left the group in 1988. This followed the birth in 1988 of Jack’s twin daughters, Caitlin and Nadine, and Jack learning he would have to raise the girls as a single parent. Jack Sonni becomes a marketing executive at Seymour Duncan, then performs a similar function at Rivera Guitar Amplifiers. Jack Sonni goes on to work for Line 6, a digital technology organisation for musicians. From 2001 to 2006 Jack Sonni is Vice-President of Marketing Communication for Guitar Center. In 2006, Sonni leaves corporate life behind and begins writing a personal memoir. At the same time, he also begins playing music again, starting a new band called Los Perros de Amor (which roughly translates from Spanish as Love Dogs).
Former Dire Straits saxophonist Chris White is involved in both of the latter day groups playing the music of Dire Straits, The Straits (2011) and The Dire Straits Experience (from 2012).
Former Dire Straits drummer Chris Whitten composes the music for the comedy ‘Brazen Hussies’ (1996) as well as ‘Lynda La Plante’s Killer Net’ (1998) and ‘Lynda La Plante’s Mind Games’ (2001). Chris Whitten also plays in The Dire Straits Experience from 2012.
Former Dire Straits pedal steel guitarist Paul Franklin joins The Time Jumpers, a county and western swing band, in 1998. The Time Jumpers issue the following albums: ‘Jumpin’ Time’ (2007), ‘The Time Jumpers’ (2012) and ‘Kid Sister’ (2016). The album ‘Bakersfield’ (2013) is co-credited to Vince Gill and Paul Franklin.
Guitarist Mark Knopfler was – in the words of younger sibling, David Knopfler – what made Dire Straits ‘exceptional rather than merely good.’ Knopfler’s playing is still well regarded, yet he is not usually mentioned in the same breath as such ‘guitar heroes’ as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. There a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, Hendrix and Clapton are products of the 1960s while Knopfler came to light in the more cynical 1970s when worshipping any guitarist was a less acceptable practice. Secondly, though both Hendrix and Clapton could write songs, a large portion of their outputs in comparison to Knopfler consisted of cover versions or outside compositions. Knopfler’s songwriting was always as important as his guitar playing, so his focus was not so strongly on his instrument. Hendrix died in his 20s and Clapton, though he shied away from his earlier, more extravagant fireworks, carried his blues legend status with him. Mark Knopfler more fully renounced his ‘rock star’ status after Dire Straits folded. Knopfler preferred musical ensembles like Dire Straits or his soundtrack work to occupying the spotlight. Knopfler’s quest was less about being a guitar master than it was about finding a mythical musical ideal at the intersection of Newcastle’s Tyne River and the muddy Mississippi delta, a place where folk and blues, songwriting and instrumental flair, guitar and voice had equal weight. So, ultimately, Mark Knopfler may not be remembered so much as a ‘guitar hero,’ but he preserved his own identity and that may be a greater triumph. ‘In an era of strong images and the quest for new sounds, Dire Straits defied the odds, dominated by its non-pop star leader Mark Knopfler and a low-key blues music clearly rooted in the past.’ ‘Their accessible, traditional blues-based music made them perfect for the massive, mature, relatively wealthy strata of the public that likes its music tightly performed and relatively digestible.’
- sonicnet.com – ‘Dire Straits’ – no author credited – as at 28 August 2001
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 147
- ‘The Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 296
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 63, 131
- wikipedia.org as at 26 July 2017
- buddharadioprep.rzero.com – ‘Sultans of Swing: The Untold Story of Dire Straits’ by Paul Rees – as at 30 July 2017
- ‘The Daily Telegraph’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Mark Knopfler: How Did We Avoid Disaster’ – interview conducted by Neil McCormick (5 September 2012) (reproduced on telegraph.co.uk)
- Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 1 August 2017
- ‘The Sunday Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘I Really Was in Dire Straits…But Now I’ve Beaten the Cancer I had for 15 Years: John Illsley Tells for the First Time how he was Saved from Chronic Leukaemia’ – interview conducted by Alice Smellie (18 May 2014) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
- ‘The Watford Observer’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Former Dire Straits Bassist John Illsley Opens up about Finding Out he had Leukaemia and Writing his New Album in Hospital’ – interview conducted by Laura Enfield (2 October 2014) (reproduced on watfordobserver.co.uk)
- TVE (Madrid, Spain) – John Illsley interview (5 May 1992) via 5 (above) [John Illsley]
- davidknopfler.com via 5 (above) [John Illsley]
- ‘Dire Straits’ – Sleeve notes by Charlie Gillett (Vertigo/Mercury Records Ltd, 1996 reissue) p. 2
- allmusic.com – ‘Dire Straits’ by Stephen Thomas Erlewine – as at 31 July 2017
- brainyquote.com as at 31 July 2017
- ‘Guitar World’ – ‘100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 22 ‘Sultans Of Swing’ (Mark Knopfler)’ (21 October 2008) via 5 (above) [‘Sultans Of Swing’ song]
- ‘Communique’ – Sleeve notes by Mark Cooper (Vertigo/Mercury Records Ltd, 1996 reissue) p. 2
- amarkintime.org – posting by jbaent (3 August 2015) [how Mark Knopfler met Holly Vincent and Lourdes Salomone]
- ‘Written in my Soul’ by Bill Flanagan (1986) – Mark Knopfler interview via 5 (above) [‘Money For Nothing’ song] and members.tripod.com (‘The Interview of Interviews’)
- ‘Love Over Gold’ – Sleeve notes by John Tobler (Vertigo/Mercury Records Ltd, 1996 reissue) p. 2
- ‘Sunday Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Loud Rock Music Wrecked my Hearing, says Dire Straits Star…Now iPod Generation is at Risk’ – John Illsley interview conducted by Bonnie Estridge (26 July 2009) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
- ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (Sydney, Australia, newspaper) – ‘No Money for Nothing in Move from Bass to Brush’ – John Illsley interview conducted by Samantha Selinger-Morris (27 July 2005) (reproduced on smh.com.au)
- oneverybootleg.nl as at 9 August 2017 [format of Mark Knopfler’s ‘Comfort And Joy’ soundtrack]
- reneejohnsonwrites.com – ‘Jack Sonni – Rocker, Writer, Gentleman Chef’ – interview conducted by Renee Johnson (15 April 2015)
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 66
- propertyobserver.com.au – ‘Dire Straits Guitarist John Illsley Lists Australian Bolthole as Point Piper Loses Some of its Pop’ by Jonathan Chancellor (31 January 2013)
- ‘St Cloud Times’ (Saint Cloud, Minnesota, U.S.A., newspaper) – no author credited (27 October 1986) [Mark Knopfler race car crash]
- upi.com – ‘Rock Singer Hurt in Race Crash’ – no author credited (25 October 1986) [Mark Knopfler race car crash]
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – Mark Knopfler interview conducted by Rob Tannenbaum (September 1988) via 5 (above) [Dire Straits]
- whosdatedwho.com as at 30 July 2017
- direstraitsexperience.com as at 30 September 2014
- revolvy.com – ‘David Knopfler’ – References ‘Buffalo News’ (Buffalo, New York, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘David Knopfler Performs Sunday at Sportsmen’s Tavern’ by Dan Herbeck (1 May 2013)
- ‘The Daily Telegraph’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘John Illsley: Four Kids, Two Dogs, a Pub and a Guitar’ – interview conducted by Anna Tyzack (30 June 2015) (reproduced on telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘The Liverpool Echo’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Preview: Jade Wright on an Evening with Pick Withers at the Green Room Liverpool’ (5 January 2011) (reproduced on liverpoolecho.co.uk)
- i-d.vice.com – ‘Staz Lindes, the Tumblr-Superstar who Stole our Hearts in Moschino’ – Staz Lindes interview conducted by Stuart Brumfitt (8 April 2014)
- cataloguemagazine.com.au – ‘Staz Lindes Discusses Music, Modelling and Body Image’ – no author credited (2014) [confirms mother is Mary Lindes]
- instantcheckmate.com as at 15 August 2017 [Misha Lindes is 26]
- dazeddigital.com – ‘Introducing Saint Laurent’s New Indie Kid Muses’ – re: Staz Lindes and Misha Lindes – by Ted Stansfield (2016)
- hero-magazine.com – ‘Meet SadGirl, the L.A. Band who Recruited Machete for their Surf-Noir Soundtrack’ by Alex James Taylor (2 November 2015)
- webs.ono.com/joan.duarte/terrybio.html as at 31 July 2017 [Terry Williams’ girlfriend Louise]
Song lyrics copyright Rondor Music (Australia) Pty Ltd. with the exception of ‘Money For Nothing’ (Rondor Music / Virgin Music)
Last revised 20 August 2017