Mark Knopfler

Origin: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

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Genres: Blues-Rock, Celtic rock, country rock, Rock, Roots Rock

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Mark Knopfler is a Scottish singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film composer.  He is best known as the lead singer, lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band Dire Straits, which he co-founded with his younger brother, David Knopfler in 1977.

Since Dire Straits 1995 dissolution Knopfler has recorded and produced nine solo albums and composed film scores.  Knopfler was ranked 27th on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.  Knopfler and Dire Straits have sold more than 120 millions records.  A four time Grammy Award winner, Knopfler holds three honorary doctorate degrees in music from United Kingdom universities.  He was inducted as a member of Dire Straits into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Knopfler’s solo live performances can be characterized as relaxed—almost workmanlike.  He uses very little stage production, other than some lighting effects to enhance the music’s dynamics.  He has been known to sip tea on stage during live performances.

Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1949.  He originally drew inspiration from his uncle Kingsley’s harmonica and Boogie-woogie piano playing, but soon became familiar with many different styles of music.  During the 1960’s he formed and joined several bands and listened to singers such as Elvis Presley and guitarists Chet Atkins, B.B. King and Scotty Moore among others.

In 1968 Knopfler while studying journalism in college made the acquaintance of country blues enthusiast and part time performer Steve Phillips.  The two subsequently formed a duo called the “The Duolian String Pickers,” and performed in local folk and acoustic blues venues.  Two years later Knopfler decided to further his education and graduated with a degree in English from the University of Leeds.  Phillips later rejoined Knopfler in his short-lived exercise from Dire Straits, The Notting Hillbillies.

Dire Straits recorded their first demos in 1977, with David Knopfler as rhythm guitarist.  Many of the songs reflected Mark’s experiences in Newcastle, Leeds and London and were featured on the groups eponymous Dire Straits album released in 1978.  The band received little notice upon its initial release until the single “Sultans of Swing” became a worldwide hit.

Dire Straits third album, Making Movies was released in 1980 and moved the band towards more complex arrangements and production which continued for the remainder of the group’s career.  The album included many of Knopfler’s most personal compositions including “Romeo and Juliet” and “Tunnel of Love.”

During 1983 and 1984, Knopfler involved himself in other projects including writing and producing music scores for films.  During this time Knopfler produced Bob Dylan’s Infidels album and wrote the song “Private Dancer” for Tina Turner’s comeback album of the same name.

Dire Straits fifth studio album, 1985’s Brothers in Arms became an international blockbuster selling more than 30 million albums worldwide.  The album spawned several hit singles including the U.S. #1 “Money for Nothing.”  Other hit singles included “So Far Away,” “Walk of Life,” and the album’s title track.  The band followed up with the immensely successful Brothers in Arms tour.

After the Brothers in Arms world tour Dire Straits ceased to work together for some time, Knopfler concentrating mainly on film soundtracks including the music score for the film The Princess Bride released at the end of 1987.

In 1989, Knopfler formed the Notting Hillbillies.  The band leaned towards American roots music, folk, blues and country music.  Their sole studio album 1990’s Missing…Presumed Having a Good Time was followed by a tour lasting the duration of the year.

Dire Straits follow-up to Brothers in Arms 1991’s On Every Street  met with mixed reaction failed to meet the popularity of its predecessor.  While the album sold well and their world tour was well received Dire Straits dissolved in 1995.  Following the tour Knopfler took some time off the music business before launching his career as a solo artist.

In 1997, Rolling Stone magazine listed “Sultans of Swing” as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.  In 2002, Knopfler released his second solo album Sailing to Philadelphia to great success.

In 2006 Knopfler teamed with Emmy Lou Harris to record the album All the Roadrunning.  The record became a worldwide smash and was nominated for “Best Folk Rock/Americana Album at the 2007 Grammy Awards losing out to Bob Dylan’s Modern Times.

Knopfler and Harris united to tour behind the album eventually releasing a DVD entitled Real Live Roadrunning.  In addition to several of the compositions that Harris and Knopfler recorded together in the studio, Real Live Roadrunning features solo hits from both members of the duo, as well as three tracks from Knopfler’s days with Dire Straits.

In  November 2018 Mark Knopfler released his most recent solo album Down the Road Wherever.  According to Rolling Stone magazine the album is a dependable collection of Irish blues and laid-back roots rock.  The album’s material ranges from languid lullabys like “My Bacon Roll” and “Floating Away” to the upbeat blues funk of “Back on the Dance Floor” and “Nobody Does That.” Knopfler plans to spend 2019 touring behind the album.

Reference –

Mark Knopfler discography

Dire Straits albums

Solo albums

Golden Heart (1996)

Sailing to Philadelphia (2000)

The Ragpicker’s Dream (2002)

Shangri-La (2004)

One Take Radio Sessions (2005)

Kill to Get Crimson (2007)

Get Lucky (2009)

Privateering (2012)

Tracker (2015)

Down the Road Wherever (2018)

Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Mark Knopfler.  All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/

Check on Mark Knopfler’s “Good on You Son” from Down the Road Wherever.