listen live

Dire Straits

Band from Newcastle upon Tyne

Tracks (12)
Walk Of Life

Dire Straits

Dire Straits Biography

Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers. They were active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1990 to 1995.History 1980–1984: Increased musical complexity and early success Mark Knopfler and Hal Lindes In 1980, Dire Straits were nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Sultans of Swing". In July 1980, the band started recording tracks for their third album. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, with Mark Knopfler also sharing credit, Making Movies was released in October 1980. During the recording sessions, tension between Mark and David Knopfler ...
Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers. They were active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1990 to 1995.


1980–1984: Increased musical complexity and early success

Mark Knopfler and Hal Lindes

In 1980, Dire Straits were nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Sultans of Swing". In July 1980, the band started recording tracks for their third album. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, with Mark Knopfler also sharing credit, Making Movies was released in October 1980. During the recording sessions, tension between Mark and David Knopfler took its toll on the band, and David Knopfler left over creative differences with his brother to pursue a solo career; he was uncredited on the album. The sessions continued with Sid McGinnis on rhythm guitar and keyboardist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. After the recording sessions were completed, keyboardist Alan Clark and Californian guitarist Hal Lindes joined Dire Straits as full-time members for tours of Europe, North America, and Oceania.

Making Movies received mostly positive reviews and featured longer songs with more complex arrangements, a style which would continue for the rest of the band's career. The album featured many of Mark Knopfler's most personal compositions. The most successful chart single was "Romeo and Juliet" (number 8 in the UK Singles Chart), a song about a failed love affair, with Knopfler's trademark in keeping personal songs under fictitious names. Although never released as a hit single, "Solid Rock" was featured in all Dire Straits' live shows from this point on for the remainder of their career, while the album's lengthy opening track, "Tunnel of Love", with its intro "The Carousel Waltz" by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was featured in the 1982 Richard Gere film An Officer and a Gentleman. Although "Tunnel of Love" only reached the position of No. 54 in the UK when released as a single in 1981, it remains one of Dire Straits' most famous and popular songs and immediately became a favourite at concerts. Making Movies stayed in the UK Albums Chart for five years, peaking at No. 4. Rolling Stone ranked Making Movies number 52 on its list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties".

Knopfler and Lindes onstage in Amsterdam, June 1981

Dire Straits' fourth studio album Love Over Gold, an album of songs filled with lengthy passages that featured Alan Clark's piano and keyboard work, was well received when it was released in September 1982, going gold in America and spending four weeks at number one in the United Kingdom. The title was inspired by graffiti seen from the window of Knopfler's old council flat in London. The phrase was taken from the sleeve of an album by Captain Beefheart. Love Over Gold was the first Dire Straits album produced solely by Mark Knopfler, and its main chart hit, "Private Investigations", gave Dire Straits their first top 5 hit single in the United Kingdom, where it reached the number 2 position, despite its almost seven-minute length, and became another of the band's most popular live songs.

In other parts of the world, "Industrial Disease", a song that looks at the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980s, focusing on strikes, depression and dysfunctionality, was the main single from the album, particularly in Canada, where it became a top 10 hit. As well as the title track and "It Never Rains", Love Over Gold featured the 14-minute-long epic "Telegraph Road". Also written by Knopfler during this period was "Private Dancer", which did not appear on the album, but was eventually given to Tina Turner for her comeback album of the same name. Love Over Gold reportedly sold two million copies during the first six weeks after its release. Shortly after the release of Love Over Gold, drummer Pick Withers left the band. His replacement was Terry Williams, formerly of Rockpile and a range of other Welsh bands, including Man.

Knopfler in Zagreb, 1983

In January 1983, a four-song EP titled ExtendedancEPlay was released while Love Over Gold was still in the album charts. It featured the hit single "Twisting By the Pool", which reached the Top 20 in the UK and Canada. The band won Best British Group at the 1983 Brit Awards. With session keyboard player Tommy Mandel added to the live line-up to help Clark cover his increasingly detailed keyboard parts and arrangements, Dire Straits embarked on an eight month long Love over Gold Tour, which finished with two concerts at London's Hammersmith Odeon on 22 and 23 July 1983. The double album Alchemy Live was a recording of excerpts from these two concerts and was reportedly released without studio overdubs. It was released in March 1984, reaching the Top 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

During 1983 and 1984, Mark Knopfler was also involved in other projects outside of the band. He wrote the music scores for the films Local Hero, which extensively featured Alan Clark's keyboards, and Cal, which were also released as albums. The final track of Local Hero, "Going Home (Theme Of The Local Hero)", is played before every home game of Newcastle United, Knopfler's local team. Also, during this time Knopfler produced Bob Dylan's Infidels which also featured Straits' member Alan Clark, as well as Aztec Camera and Willy DeVille. Also in 1984, John Illsley released his first solo album, Never Told a Soul, to which Mark Knopfler, Alan Clark and Terry Williams contributed.

1985–1986: The Brothers in Arms era and international success

Dire Straits returned to recording at the end of 1984 and began recording tracks at Air Studios in Montserrat for their upcoming fifth studio album, to be titled Brothers in Arms, with Mark Knopfler and Neil Dorfsman producing. The recording sessions saw further personnel changes. Mandel had returned to session work and the band added a full-time second keyboardist, Guy Fletcher, who had previously worked as a session musician with Roxy Music and on the Cal soundtrack. Guitarist Hal Lindes left the band during the recording sessions and was replaced by New York guitarist Jack Sonni.

According to a Sound on Sound magazine interview with Neil Dorfsman, the style of then-permanent drummer Terry Williams was considered to be unsuitable for the desired sound of the album during the first month of the recording sessions. Williams was released from the recording sessions and temporarily replaced by jazz session drummer Omar Hakim, who re-recorded the album's drum parts before leaving for other commitments. Both Hakim and Williams are credited on the album, although Williams' single contribution was the improvised cadenza at the beginning of "Money for Nothing". The remainder of the album features Hakim on drums. Williams would be back in the band for the music videos and the 1985–1986 Brothers in Arms world tour that followed.

Released in May 1985, Brothers in Arms entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and spent a total of 228 weeks in the charts and sold over 4.3 million copies. It went on to become the best-selling album of 1985 in the UK. Brothers in Arms was similarly successful in the US, peaking at No. 1 on Billboard 200 for nine weeks, going multi-platinum and selling nine million copies there. The album spent 34 weeks at number 1 on the Australian ARIA Charts, and it remains the longest-running number one album in Australia.

A National Style 0 resonator guitar features on the cover of Brothers in Arms. Knopfler also used the guitar in the 1981 single "Romeo and Juliet".

The album featured a more lavish production and overall sound than Dire Straits' earlier work and spawned several big chart singles: "Money for Nothing", which reached number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 in the UK Singles Chart, "So Far Away" (No. 20 UK, No. 19 US), "Brothers in Arms" (No. 16 UK), "Walk of Life" (No. 2 UK, No. 7 US), and "Your Latest Trick" (No. 26 UK). "Money for Nothing" was the first video to be played on MTV in the UK and featured guest vocals by Sting, who is credited with co-writing the song with Mark Knopfler, although it was the inclusion of the melody from "Don't Stand So Close To Me" that triggered the copyright credit, as no actual lyrics were written by Sting. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in February 1986.

Brothers in Arms was the first album recorded entirely digitally, because of Knopfler pushing for improved sound quality. Written during Britain's involvement in the Falklands War of 1982, the album's title track, "Brothers in Arms", deals with the senselessness of war. In 2007, the 25th anniversary of the war, Knopfler recorded a new version of the song at Abbey Road Studios to raise funds for British veterans who he said "are still suffering from the effects of that conflict." "Brothers in Arms" has become a favourite at military funerals. Reported to be the world's first CD single, it was issued in the UK as a promotional item distinguished with a logo for the tour, Live in '85, while a second to commemorate the Australian leg of the tour marked Live in '86. "Walk of Life" meanwhile was nearly excluded from the album when co-producer Neil Dorfsman voted against its inclusion, but the band members out-voted him. The result was Dire Straits' most commercially successful hit single in the UK, peaking at number two.

Dire Straits performing in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, (now Serbia) on 10 May 1985. Left to right: Mark Knopfler, Clark, and Jack Sonni.

The album is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first compact disc (CD) to sell a million copies, and it has been credited with popularising the CD format. The Guardian ranked the Brothers in Arms CD number 38 in their list of the 50 key events in rock music history. The album featured the full version of the "Money for Nothing" cut, rather than the LP version, and it also includes extended versions of all tracks on the first side of the LP, with the exception of "Walk of Life".

The 1985–1986 Brothers in Arms world tour which followed the album's release was phenomenally successful, with over 2.5 million tickets sold. The tour included dates in Europe, Israel, North America, and Australia and New Zealand. The band played 248 shows in over 100 different cities. Saxophonist Chris White joined the band, and the tour began on 25 April 1985 in Split, Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia). While playing a 13-night residency at Wembley Arena in London, the band moved down the road to Wembley Stadium on the afternoon of 13 July 1985, to appear in a Live Aid slot, in which their set included "Money For Nothing" with Sting as guest vocalist. John Illsley states, “It was a very special feeling to be part of something so unique. Live Aid was a unique privilege for all of us. It’s become a fabulous memory.” The tour ended at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Australia, on 26 April 1986, where Dire Straits still holds the record for consecutive appearances at 21 nights. The band also made an impromptu attempt at the Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda". With 900,000 tickets sold in Australia and New Zealand, it was the biggest concert tour in Australasian music history, until it was overtaken in 2017–2018 by Ed Sheeran.

Dire Straits performed at Live Aid at the old Wembley Stadium (exterior pictured) on 13 July 1985, in between 13 dates at the nearby Wembley Arena.

Additionally in 1985, a group that set out from London to Khartoum to raise money for famine relief, led by John Abbey, was called "The Walk of Life". Dire Straits donated the Brothers in Arms Gold disc to the participants in recognition of what they were doing. The band's concert of 10 July 1985 at Wembley Arena, in which they were accompanied by Nils Lofgren for "Solid Rock" and Hank Marvin joined the band at the end to play "Going Home" (the theme from Local Hero), was televised in the United Kingdom on The Tube on Channel 4 in January 1986. (Although never officially released, bootleg recordings of the performance entitled Wembley does the Walk (2005) have been circulated.)

In 1986, Brothers in Arms won two Grammy Awards and also won Best British Album at the 1987 Brit Awards. Q magazine placed the album at number 51 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000. The album also ranked number 351 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003. Brothers in Arms is also ranked number 3 in the best albums of 1985 and number 31 in the best albums of the 1980s, and as of December 2017, the album was ranked the eighth-best-selling album in UK chart history, and is the 107th-best-selling album in the United States. In August 1986, MTV Europe was launched with Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing".

1987–1990: First break-up

After the Brothers in Arms tour ended, Mark Knopfler took a break from Dire Straits, and, during 1987, he concentrated on solo projects and film soundtracks. Dire Straits regrouped in 1988 for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert, staged on 11 June 1988 at Wembley Stadium, in which they were the headline act. They were joined for their set by Eric Clapton, who performed his hit "Wonderful Tonight" with the group and played rhythm guitar on the other songs performed by the band, while guitarist Jack Sonni was absent. Soon afterwards, Williams left the band.

A 1989 signed Knopfler guitar at the Blues bar in Chicago

Mark Knopfler announced the dissolution of Dire Straits in September 1988. He told Rob Tannenbaum in Rolling Stone: "A lot of press reports were saying we were the biggest band in the world. There's not an accent then on the music, there's an accent on popularity. I needed a rest." The tremendous success of the Brothers in Arms album and the tour that went with it left the band members under a significant amount of stress, and Knopfler announced that he wanted to work on more personal projects. A best of / greatest hits compilation Money for Nothing, was released in October 1988 and reached number one in the UK. The group's first hit single "Sultans of Swing" was re-released as a single in the UK to promote the album. Also in 1988, John Illsley released his second solo album, Glass, which featured Mark Knopfler, Alan Clark, Guy Fletcher and Chris White. During this period, Alan Clark joined Eric Clapton's band for three years, during which time Knopfler also briefly joined Eric's band.

In 1989, over a meal at a Notting Hill wine bar, Knopfler formed The Notting Hillbillies, a country-focused band whose line-up featured Guy Fletcher, Brendan Croker, and Steve Phillips, and manager Ed Bicknell on drums. The Notting Hillbillies' one album, Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time, with its minor hit single "Your Own Sweet Way", was released in 1990. The Notting Hillbillies toured for the remainder of the year and also appeared on Saturday Night Live. Knopfler would further emphasise his country music influences on his 1990 collaboration with guitarist Chet Atkins, Neck and Neck.

In 1990, Dire Straits performed alongside Elton John and Eric Clapton at Knebworth Festival, playing "Solid Rock", "Money for Nothing" and "I Think I Love You Too Much". Knopfler explained that the latter was an experimental song and was unsure if they should record it on a following record. The song, a blues rock track with solos by Knopfler and Clapton, also appeared on the 1990 album Hell To Pay as a gift to Canadian blues/jazz artist Jeff Healey from Knopfler. This was prior to the time that Knopfler, Illsley and manager Ed Bicknell decided to reform the band the following year.

1996–present: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

After disbanding Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler started his career as a solo artist, releasing his first solo album, Golden Heart, in March 1996 after nearly 20 years of collaborations. Brothers in Arms was certified nine times platinum in the US in August 1996. During that year, the entire Dire Straits catalogue was remastered by Bob Ludwig and re-released on CD on Mercury Records, in most of the world outside the United States. The remasters were released in September 2000 in the United States, on Warner Bros.

Knopfler, John Illsley, Alan Clark, and Guy Fletcher reunited for one last time on 19 June 1999, with Ed Bicknell on drums, playing five songs, including a performance of Chuck Berry's "Nadine" for Illsley's wedding. In 2002, Mark Knopfler was joined by John Illsley, Guy Fletcher, Danny Cummings and Chris White for four charity concerts. Brendan Croker joined Knopfler during the first half, playing mainly material composed with The Notting Hillbillies. Illsley came on for a Dire Straits session, toward the end of which, at a Shepherd's Bush concert, Jimmy Nail came on to provide backing vocals for Knopfler's solo composition, "Why Aye Man". The song appears in the 2002 album The Ragpicker's Dream, an album that contains numerous other references to Knopfler's home area in North East England.

The most recent compilation, The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations, was released in November 2005 and reached the UK Top 20. Featuring material from the majority of Dire Straits' studio albums as well as Mark Knopfler's solo and soundtrack material, it was released in two editions, a single CD with grey cover and a double CD in blue cover. The only previously unreleased track on the album, "All the Roadrunning", is a duet with singer Emmylou Harris. The album was well received. Also in 2005, Brothers in Arms was re-released in a limited 20th anniversary edition, which was a success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album at the 48th Grammy Awards ceremony.

Mark Knopfler, pictured in 2015, has declined offers to re-form the band, stating "It just got too big. If anyone can tell me one good thing about fame, I'd be very interested to hear it."

Since the break-up of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler has shown no interest in re-forming the band and is quoted as saying "Oh, I don't know whether to start getting all that stuff back together again," and telling reporters that "I would only do that for a charity. I'm glad I've experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are." However, keyboardist Guy Fletcher has been associated with almost every piece of Knopfler's solo material to date, and Danny Cummings has frequently contributed, notably to three of Knopfler's most recent solo album releases: All the Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris), Kill to Get Crimson and Get Lucky.

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." In October 2008, John Illsley told the BBC that he wanted Knopfler to agree to re-form Dire Straits for a comeback tour. Knopfler declined, saying that he was often reluctant to re-form the group and insisted that he "isn't even a fan of Dire Straits' early hits." In the same interview, Illsley also suggested that Knopfler is enjoying his continued success as a solo artist, saying that "He's doing incredibly well as a solo artist, so hats off to him. He's having a perfectly good time doing what he's doing." Guy Fletcher stated on his website that Knopfler has no interest in re-forming Dire Straits.

In December 2009, the band were commemorated with a Heritage Award from PRS for Music. A plaque was placed on a block of flats in Deptford, London, the location where Dire Straits played their first gig. In 2011, Alan Clark, Chris White, and Phil Palmer, along with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone, formed a new band, the Straits, to perform at a charity show at the Royal Albert Hall in London. On 13 December 2017, Dire Straits were announced as inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2018. Speaking to Billboard magazine, John Illsley stated, "It fills me with a lot of pleasure to be recognized and to be included in the thing that we love doing best, which is making music and playing rock n' roll." On a possible reunion performance, he added, "Mark is quite sort of restrained about things like this. We have spoken about [the induction], and we just said, 'Oh, that's nice.' I think it would probably be important if Mark and I were there. I'll definitely be there, and I'll definitely talk Mark into coming as well. It's essentially up to him if he wants to do anything, and I completely respect his feelings about it. He doesn't want too much white light." Knopfler did not appear at the ceremony, with Illsley stating, "I'll assure you it's a personal thing. Let's just leave it at that." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognised John Illsley, David & Mark Knopfler, Pick Withers, Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher as "significant members" of the band. Only Clark, Fletcher and Illsley turned up for the ceremony.

In 2009, Illsley and Clark performed several Dire Straits songs in an open air concert in San Vigilio, and since then Clark, Palmer, Illsley, Cummings, Collins, Sonni and Withers, in various line-ups, have toured as the Dire Straits Legends and continue to this day as the Dire Straits Legacy. They also released an album 3 Chord Trick. In a 2018 US tour, they were joined by multi award-winning producer and bass player Trevor Horn of The Buggles and drummer Steve Ferrone.

In September 2021, Alan Clark released his piano solo album Backstory, while in November 2021 John Illsley published his autobiography My Life in Dire Straits. Dire Straits remains one of the most popular British rock bands as well as one of the world's most commercially successful artists, with total worldwide album sales of more than 120 million.

Band members

  • Mark Knopfler: lead vocals, lead & rhythm guitar, producer (1977–1995)
  • John Illsley: bass, backing vocals (1977–1995)
  • Pick Withers: drums, occasional backing vocals (1977–1982)
  • David Knopfler: rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1977–1980)
  • Alan Clark: keyboards, producer (1980–1995)
  • Hal Lindes: rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1980–1985)
  • Terry Williams: drums (1982–1984, 1985–1988)
  • Guy Fletcher: keyboards, backing vocals (1984–1995)
  • Jack Sonni: rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1985–1988)

Honoured and inducted

  • PRS for Music Heritage Award 2009
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2018


  • Brit Awards 1983 – British Group
  • Brit Awards 1986 – British Group
  • Grammy Award 1986 – Best Rock Performance by a Duo Or Group (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Grammy Award 1986 – Brothers in Arms Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical (for Brothers in Arms, Mark Knopfler Neil Dorfsman engineer)
  • Juno Award 1986 – International Album of the Year
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Video of the Year (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Group Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Brit Awards 1987 – British Album of the Year (for Brothers in Arms)
  • Grammy Award 1987 – Best Music Video (for "Brothers in Arms")
  • Grammy Award 2006 – Best Surround Sound Album (for his surround sound production for Brothers in Arms—20th Anniversary Edition, Chuck Ainlay, surround mix engineer; Bob Ludwig, surround mastering engineer; Chuck Ainlay and Mark Knopfler, surround producers)


  • Grammy Award 1980 – Best New Artist
  • Grammy Award 1980 – Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (for "Sultans of Swing")
  • American Music Award 1986 – Favorite Pop/Rock Single (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Brit Awards 1986 – British Album of the Year (for Brothers in Arms)
  • Brit Awards 1986 – British Single (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Brit Awards 1986 – British Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Grammy Award 1986 – Album of the Year (for Brothers in Arms)
  • Grammy Award 1986 – Record of the Year (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Grammy Award 1986 – Song of the Year (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Concept Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Most Experimental Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Stage Performance in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Overall Performance in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Direction in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Visual Effects in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Art Direction in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Best Editing in a Video (for "Money for Nothing")
  • MTV Video Music Award 1986 – Viewer's Choice (for "Money for Nothing")
  • Brit Awards 1987 – British Group
  • Brit Awards 1992 – British Group
  • Grammy Award 1992 – Best Music Video (for "Calling Elvis")
  • Brit Awards 2010 – British Album of Thirty Years (for Brothers in Arms)

Source : Wikipedia
Show more Show less

Dire Straits Videos

Dire Straits Discography

  • 1978AlbumDire Straits
  • 1978SingleSultans of Swing
  • 1980AlbumMaking Movies
  • 1981SingleTunnel of Love
  • 1982SinglePrivate Investigations
  • 1983SingleExtendeDancEPlay
  • 1984AlbumCommunique
  • 1985AlbumBrothers In Arms
  • 1988AlbumMoney For Nothing (2022 Remaster)
  • 1990AlbumOn Every Street
  • 1991SingleCalling Elvis
  • 1991SingleHeavy Fuel
  • 1993AlbumOn the Night (Live)
  • 1995AlbumLive at the BBC
  • 1998AlbumSultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits
  • 2005SingleKingdom Come
  • 2005AlbumLove Over Gold
  • 2005SingleMillionaire Blues
  • 2005AlbumPrivate Investigations: The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler
  • 2012AlbumOn Every Stage - A Tribute To Dire Straits
  • 2013AlbumDire Straits Guitar Playalongs
  • 2014AlbumLive in Bochum
  • 2016AlbumLive 2015
  • 2017AlbumSpecial Locations
We use cookies to enhance your experience on Eirewave. You can read our privacy policy here or click Close to continue as before. Close