Dire Straits a British rock band, formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (guitar and vocals), his brother David Knopfler (guitar), John Illsley (bass), and Pick Withers (drums), and subsequently managed by Ed Bicknell. Although the band was formed in an era when punk rock reigned, Dire Straits worked within the conventions of classic rock, albeit with a stripped-down sound that appealed to modern audiences weary of the overproduced stadium rock of the 1970s. In their early days, Mark and David requested that pub owners turn down the amps so that patrons could converse while the band played indicative of their unassuming demeanor. Despite this oddly self-effacing approach to rock and roll, Dire Straits soon became hugely successful, with their first album going multi-platinum globally.
The band's best-known songs include "Sultans of Swing", "Romeo and Juliet", "Tunnel of Love", "Telegraph Road", "Private Investigations", "Money for Nothing", "Walk of Life", "So Far Away", "Brothers in Arms" and "Calling Elvis".
Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler have sold in excess of 118 million albums to date.
In 1978, Dire Straits recorded their first album, Dire Straits (so called due to the financial condition the members were living in at the time), at Basing Street studios (now known as 'Sarm West') near Portobello Road in West London for ?12,500.. During the initial U.K. release on Vertigo Records, a division of Phonogram, the album had little promotion and was not well received. However, the U.K. album came to the attention of Karin Berg, an assistant in the artists and repertoire (A&R) department of Warner Bros. Records in New York City. She felt it was the kind of music that audiences were hungry for, but only one person in her department agreed at first. "Other people didn't hear it. The act was doing poorly in the U.K., and the record wasn't getting air play." After the album was released in the United States by Warner Brothers, it caught on quickly and sold over 1 million copies. Later, when re-released as a single, "Sultans of Swing" became a surprise U.K. chart hit, making the top 10, and then went on to become a very popular live song throughout the band's career. The first album eventually went top 10 in every European country.
The group's second album, Communique, followed in 1979. Communique went to number one on the German album charts with Dire Straits simultaneously at number three. Singles released included "Lady Writer" and "Angel of Mercy". The album continued in a similar monochromatic vein as the first album, if somewhat more polished sonically. Within a year, however, this approach would change along with the band's lineup.
Increased musical complexity
In 1980, Dire Straits released its third album, Making Movies. This marked a move towards more-complex arrangements and production which would continue for the remainder of the band's career. The most successful chart single from the album was "Romeo and Juliet", while the album's opening track "Tunnel Of Love" (with its intro "The Carousel Waltz" written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II), went on to become another live favorite. Making Movies saw the departure of David Knopfler while the recording of the album was still in progress; Sid McGinnis filled in on rhythm guitar as the sessions continued. The album also featured keyboardist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and was produced by Knopfler with Jimmy Iovine.
Although Mark played on one track on his younger brother David's first solo album, the two men have not reconciled over the years.
Keyboardist Alan Clark and Californian guitarist Hal Lindes joined the lineup for the fourth studio album, Love over Gold, which was well received on its release in September 1982, and reached #1 in the United Kingdom. The title was inspired by graffiti seen from the window of Knopfler's old council flat in Deptford, SE London. It was also the first Dire Straits album produced solely by Mark Knopfler. Its main chart hit, "Private Investigations", gave Dire Straits their first U.K. top 5 hit single, reaching the number two position despite its almost seven-minute length, and became one of the band's most popular live songs. In other parts of the world, the single "Industrial Disease" was the album's calling card, particularly in Canada where it became a top 10 hit. Love over Gold reportedly sold two million copies in the first six weeks of its release.
Shortly after the release of Love Over Gold, drummer Pick Withers left the band for a jazz career. His replacement was Terry Williams, formerly of Rockpile.
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Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing SYDNEY 1986 -- GREAT!!!
Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins - Instrumental Medley