Personalities | Mark Knopfler | Dire Straits to Master | Guitar Heroes

From the unlikeliest of beginnings in the British new wave of the late 1970s, Dire Straits became one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, due in large part to Mark Knopfler’s finger-picking guitar style, which has continued to define the sound of his solo work.

Born in Glasgow in 1949, Knopfler spent his teenage years in Newcastle, playing in a number of local schoolboy bands. After attending college, he came to London and formed Dire Straits in 1977, with his brother David on rhythm guitar, bassist John Illsley and drummer Pick Withers, and took to playing the pub circuit. A demo tape of ‘Sultans Of Swing’ sent to DJ Charlie Gillett stirred up interest and the band secured a contract with Vertigo Records.

Dire Straits (1978) attracted little attention in Britain but took off in Europe, followed by America, where ‘Sultans Of Swing’ was a hit. Communiqué (1979) maintained the stripped-down sound, while Making Movies (1980) and Love Over Gold (1982) stretched out their country-rock groove. But it was 1985’s Brothers In Arms that hit the Zeitgeist, becoming the first ever million-selling CD, propelled by the hit ‘Money For Nothing’ and a massive world tour. Afterwards, Knopfler switched to solo projects, including soundtracks (having had success with Local Hero in 1983) and the low-key Notting Hillbillies. Dire Straits appeared at the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert in 1988.

Dire Straits reformed for On Every Street (1991) and played another world tour that produced a live album, On The Night (1993), before Knopfler dissolved the band for good and pursued a solo career that has included Golden Heart (1996), Sailing To Philadelphia (2000), The Ragpicker’s Dream (2002) and Shangri-La (2006).

Knopfler released Kill To Get Crimson in 2007 and a tour of Europe and North America followed in 2008. Get Lucky was released in 2009, with Knopfler embarking on a world tour in 2010. Knopfler then toured with Bob Dylan, in 2011, and his seventh studio album, Privateering, was released in 2012.

Although Knopfler is left-handed, he plays right-handed guitars, usually Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. He used a National Steel Resonator Guitar on ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (pictured on the cover of Brothers In Arms).

Essential Recordings

Dire Straits: Dire Straits

Dire Straits: Brothers In Arms

Solo: Local Hero

Solo: Sailing To Philadelphia

Personalities | Paul Kossoff | Free for All | Guitar Heroes


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