Origin: London, England
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A young British guitarist, Mark Knopfler, enlisted his brother David, John Illsley on bass and Pick Withers on drums to form the band Dire Straits in 1977. Little did the fledgling band know they were embarking on the road to world fame in the 80’s and beyond.
Extending the “pub rock” tradition, Knopfler’s spare guitar style was a stark contrast to the influence of punk rock. The band demonstrated a close affinity for more roots-oriented sounds.
This new sound of Mark Knopfler’s finger-picked guitar, caught the attention of Bob Dylan. “Sultans of Swing,” from their first eponymous album, scaled the charts to number four in the United States and number eight in the United Kingdom. The song was one of Dire Straits’ biggest hits and became a fixture in the band’s live performances.
Dylan, who had seen the band play in Los Angeles, was so impressed that he invited Mark Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers to play on his next album, “Slow Train Coming.”
Dire Straits’ biggest selling album, 1985’s “Brothers In Arms” with its blockbuster “Money For Nothing” track, has sold over 30 million copies. It was also the first album to sell a million copies in the then new compact disc format. They also became one of the world’s most commercially successful bands, with worldwide record sales of over 100 million. Dire Straits won four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards—winning Best British Group twice, two MTV Video Music Awards, and various other music awards.
According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, ranking fifth all-time. Their career spanned a combined total of 15 years. They originally split up in 1988, but reformed in 1991, and disbanded for good in 1995 when Mark Knopfler launched his solo career full-time.
In 2007, Knopfler said he did not miss the global fame that came his way at the height of the band’s success, explaining that “It just got too big.”
Dire Straits (1978)
Making Movies (1980)
Love Over Gold (1982)
Brothers In Arms (1985)
On Every Street (1991)