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Mark Knopfler

It's almost impossible not to recognize the classic rifts that stream from Mark Knopfler's guitar, the ones that have become synonymous with the signature sound of Dire Straits. After starting in Deptford, South London in 1977, Dire Straits have proceeded to coin such rock 'n' roll classics as "Sultans of Swing" and the evergreen call for a coolness injection, "Money for Nothing (I want my MTV)." They also have sold millions of albums and become famous in the mid-'80s as a premier live act.

Between June and November 1977, Mark Knopfler (guitar/vocals), his younger brother David Knopfler (guitar), John Illsley (bass) and Pick Withers (drums) began rehearsing some of the songs Mark had written. They played their first gig, a punk festival headlined by Squeeze, under the name Cafe Racers. Soon thereafter, they recorded a demo and took it to BBC Radio London DJ Charlie Gillett, a renowned talent-spotter. He played the tape on his Honky Tonk show, and after Phonogram A&R man John Stainze heard the music, Dire Straits signed to the Vertigo label.

In the winter of 1978, Dire Straits recorded their first self-titled LP at Basing Street Studios in London, which included "Sultans of Swing," "Water of Love" and "Six Blade Knife." The band signed to Warner Bros. in the United States and from November 1978 to January 1979, they recorded Communique, which reached No. 11 in the U.S. and was the first album to ever to enter the German charts at No. 1.

From June to July 1980, they recorded Making Movies, which included the tracks "Tunnel of Love," "Solid Rock," "Skateaway" and "Romeo and Juliet." E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan played keyboards on the album replacing Knopfler on guitar, and Alan Clark from Durham, N.C., joined on keyboard. After releasing 1982's Love Over Gold and the 1984 live double album Alchemy, (during which time Withers left the band), Dire Straits recorded their most commercially popular album, Brothers in Arms.

Including the hit songs "So Far Away," "Walk Of Life," "Money For Nothing" and "Your Latest Trick," Brothers in Arms entered the U.K. chart at No. 1 and stayed there for three weeks. It reached No. 1 in the United States in August 1995 and stayed there for nine weeks. "Money For Nothing" with Sting as guest vocalist, is Dire Straits' first American No. 1 single. In the following months, Brothers In Arms also tops the charts in Canada, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, France, German, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Israel.

Following a 200-date tour in support of the album, the band went on an extended hiatus. Dire Straits got back together in 1990 - this time with Knopfler, Illsley, Clark and Fletcher - to record On Every Street, which was released in 1991. The album didn't live up to their earlier success and failed to produce any hit singles. The band went on hiatus again after the release of a live album, On the Night in 1993. Knopfler released his first solo album, Golden Heart, in 1996.

 

 

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