Singer, songwriter, guitarist
At a time when much of rock and roll lacks the stamp of individuality, Mark Knopfler, producer, lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter long associated with the group Dire Straits, has crafted a guitar-based rock sound that reflects his respect for rock’s roots while still displaying his own originality and inventiveness. No one disputes that the success of Knopfler and Dire Straits comes from his highly defined musical aesthetic. Yet it is important to emphasize that although Dire Straits has gone through a number of personnel changes since its founding in 1977—only Knopfler and bassist John Illsley remain from the original four—Knopfler has always viewed the group as a rock and roll band and not a superstar vehicle. For him, playing rock music is a way of life, a total commitment.
Knopfler and Dire Straits have consistently received high praise from the usually cynical rock press—with only a few dissenters. Their debut album, Dire Straits, was released in 1978 at the height of New Wave popularity. “It’s almost as if they were aware that their forte has nothing to do with what’s currently happening in the industry, but couldn’t care less,” wrote Ken Tucker in Rolling Stone. Stereo Review announced, “they’re so good, it’s scary,” and later added, “The first Dire Straits disc was, frankly, almost too good to be true: a complete fully rounded stylistic statement from a young band that sounded as if it had been woodshedding for years, down beat agreed, calling Knopfler “the most distinctive guitar voice to come along since Jimi Hen-drix.” Gene Lyons, writing in Newsweek, judged Knopfler to be “perhaps the most influential guitar stylist since Chuck Berry.”
Mark Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 12, 1949, the son of an English mother and a Hungarian Jewish father, whose Communist sympathies forced him to flee his native land. His father was an architect and his mother a schoolteacher, but Knopfler grew up poor in a family that could not afford a car or television. The Knopflers relocated in Newcastle, England, when Mark was nine and, as a child, he took music lessons—piano and violin—from his father. “I would just play by ear, and as soon as it got difficult, I was in trouble,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Like so many innovative rock musicians, Knopfler does not read music. “I go by my ears. I can’t relate music to those dots. I heard my uncle Kingsley play boogie-woogie when was about eight years old. That was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. Those three chords, the logic of it. So I just used to slam out boogie-woogie on the piano, drive everybody nuts.”
Knopf 1er left home at 17 to attend journalism school and then worked for two years as a cub reporter with the Yorkshire Evening Post and even reviewed local bands.
Born August 12, 1949, in Glasgow, Scotland; son of an architect and a teacher; married second wife, Lourdes Salamone. Education: Attended journalism school; degree in English literature from University of Leeds, 1973.
Reporter and rock music critic for Yorkshire Evening Post, 1968-70; lecturer at Loughton College, 1973-77; while attending school and teaching, performed in clubs in London, England, with various bands, including Brewer’s Droop and Cafe Racers; founder, 1977, member of group Dire Straits, 1977—.
Awards: Grammy Award, with Dire Straits, for best performance by a group, and two MTV Video Music awards, with Dire Straits, for best group video and best video of the year, all 1986, all for “Money for Nothing.”
Addresses: Residence —London, England; and New York, N.Y. Office—do Warner Bros. Records Inc., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505.
“I liked the music but hated the writing—I wasn’t cut out to be a rock-and-roll critic,” he told Ken Tucker of the Knight-Ridder News Service, quoted in the Springfield News-Sun. The last story he wrote was Jimi Hendrix’s obituary. “I was stunned. I don’t recall what I wrote. I said some stuff, left the paper and got drunk.” The newspaper experience gave Knopfler a perspective that has served him well, especially in writing socially powerful lyrics. “You learn the way society works, the way business works. You come across life and death,” he said in People.
Knopfler returned to school and earned a degree in English from the University of Leeds in 1973. “The day I finished university, I went to London and joined a band-and promptly ended up completely destitute, divorced [from his first wife] and selling guitars to stay alive.” He joined Brewer’s Droop, an “obscene” R&B Cajun outfit. “After that, I just starved to death, basically. It got pretty tough until I got hold of this teaching job that saved my life,” he recounted for Rolling Stone. The job was at Loughton College and Knopfler taught English and guitar privately. “I was pretty good at it but felt uncomfortable acting as the sort of role model a teacher is supposed to be. After all, what I liked best was playing in bars with my friends,” he said to Tucker. At that time he was with the group Cafe Racers, who played in neighborhood pubs around Loughton College.
In 1977 Knopfler decided to become a full-time musician. He settled in London and shared an apartment with his younger brother, David, and John Illsley. With Knopfler on lead guitar, David on rhythm, Illsley on bass, and session drummer Pick Withers, Dire Straits— the band’s name came from its members’ economic predicament—was born. They invested $180 earned from pub engagements and cut a five-track demo tape that was sent to most major American record companies with no success. The fortunes of Dire Straits changed, however, when BBC disc jockey Charlie Gillett played “Sultans of Swing,” a Knopfler song about jazz musicians who play for love and not money, on his “Honky Tonkin” show. Public response was immediate and enthusiastic.
By Christmas 1977, Dire Straits had a record contract with Warner Bros., which soon translated into a Top Ten hit and a platinum LP. Success for Knopfler came at 28, old for the rock world but not for Knopf 1er, considering the tendency of rock musicians to self-destruct if fame comes too young and too easy. “We’d probably be dead by now, or definitely on the casualty list. We couldn’t have handled it,” he told Kurt Loder in Rolling Stone. One casualty of Dire Straits’ sudden success was David Knopf 1er. The younger Knopfler left the band to pursue a solo career after Dire Straits’ second album was recorded. The unhappy breakup was obviously painful and difficult for Mark Knopfler to discuss. “One of the problems was having this huge, great specter of a big brother writin’ tunes and tellin’ everybody what to do with them. It’s probably much better that I should leave him to grow up in his own way. I certainly wouldn’t want to tell him how to do that,” Knopfler explained to Rolling Stone in 1983. “I’m not sure how much he would be prepared to go through all the things that I was.… Dave was never into guitar as much as I was. Dave plays only keyboards now.” Dire Straits has gone through a number of personnel changes (drummer Pick Withers, the other original member, left the band in 1982), reflecting, in part, Knopfler’s demanding standards.
But to conclude that Knopfler is insensitive to the desires of other musicians is unfair. Part of Dire Straits’ lore is how guitarist Jack Sonni came to join the band. Sonni, who worked at Rudy’s Music Stop, a guitar store on 48th Street in Manhattan, first saw Dire Straits when the group played the Bottom Line club in 1979. Sonni became a friend of the Knopfler brothers when they started visiting Rudy’s regularly, even being invited to visit them in England. Then in December 1984 Mark Knopfler approached Sonni about joining the band on its world tour, replacing Hal Lindes, who had been fired. The transition from working in a guitar store to playing in a world-class rock and roll band is, on one level, incomprehensible, and on another, typical of the confidence Knopfler has in himself to back up his musical risks and personnel decisions. “It’s nice to play Father Christmas,” Musician reported Knopfler telling his manager. “I said to [Sonni], ’Just one condition. Whatever I do, man, try your damnedest not to let it affect our friendship.” Sonni and Dire Straits gelled. “He was born to it. Born to boogie, born to rock; pick your cliche, they all fit Sonni,” said Knopfler.
In 1985 rock’s social consciousness—personified by Bob Geldofs Live Aid, Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid, the Lionel Richie-Michael Jackson anthem, “We Are the World,” for USA for Africa, and Bruce Springsteen’s gritty working-class persona—captured international attention, propelling the phenomenon of rock and roll beyond its immediate audience and into the daily lives of millions worldwide. But 1985 was also the year that Dire Straits received the kind of attention in the United States that it had garnered in the rest of the world since its founding in 1977. Dire Straits’ fifth studio album, Brothers in Arms, earned Knopfler and the band eight Grammy nominations, the most for any single individual or group, winning for best rock performance by a group for the song “Money for Nothing” and for best engineered album. Knopfler also made the cover of Rolling Stone and Musician.
Knopfler’s musical activities have not been limited to Dire Straits. He is in great demand as a session guitarist—he has played on Van Morrison’s Beautiful Vision, Steely Dan’s Gaucho, and Bryan Ferry’s Boys and Girls, to name a few—and covets the opportunity to play with rock icons like Bob Dylan and Phil Everly. Dire Straits played the Knopfler composition “Private Dancer” on Tina Turner’s comeback album, with Jeff Beck filling in the guitar solo for the absent Knopfler. As a record producer for other artists, Knopf ler brought his talent to Dylan’s Infidels and Aztec Camera’s Knife. He also wrote the scores for the movies Cal, Local Hero, and Comfort and Joy, which testifies to his musical versatility.
Knopfler is married to Lourdes Salamone, the daughter of a Hilton Hotels executive. They divide their life between two residences, in New York’s Greenwich Village and London’s West End. On the future of Dire Straits, Knopfler told Tucker he has no definite plans: “I don’t know what Dire Straits will do after this. Who knows? We might come back a year from now with a choir and a couple of trombone players, but it’ll still be Dire Straits.” Whatever the future, Knopfler already has envisioned his last days: “I think it’s England. I’d like to die with my boots on. I don’t see myself dying in some place where they play dominoes. It’ll probably be in a little club. I’ll be playing guitar, an old walking stick hung up over me amp.”
With group Dire Straits; released by Warner Bros
Dire Straits (includes “Sultans of Swing,” “Down to the Water-line,” “In the Gallery,” “Water of Love,” “Setting Me Up,” “Six Blade Knife,” “Southbound Again,” and “Wild West End”), 1978.
Communique (includes “Communique,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “News,” “Where Do You Think You’re Going?,” “Lady Writer,” “Angel of Mercy,” and “Portobello Belle”), 1979.
Making Movies (includes “Tunnel of Love,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hand in Hand,” “Les Boys,” “Skateaway,” “Expresso Love,” and “Solid Rock”), 1980.
Love Over Gold (includes “Love Over Gold,” “Telegraph Road,” “Private Investigations,” “Industrial Disease,” and “It Never Rains”), 1982.
Twisting by the Pool (includes “Twisting by the Pool,” “Badges,” “Posters,” “Stickers,” “T-Shirts,” “Two Young Lovers,” and “If I Had You”), 1983.
Alchemy (live album; includes “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Expresso Love,” “Private Investigations,” “Sultansof Swing,” “Going Home,” “Two Young Lovers,” “Solid Rock,” “Tunnel of Love,” and “Telegraph Road”), 1984.
Brothers in Arms (includes “Brothers in Arms,” “The Man’s Too Strong,” “Money for Nothing,” “So Far Away,” “One World,” “Your Latest Trick,” “Ride Across the River,” “Walk of Life,” and “Why Worry?”), 1985.
Slow Train Coming (with Bob Dylan), Columbia, 1979.
Solo In Soho (with Phil Lynott), Warner Bros., 1980.
Gaucho (with Steely Dan), MCA, 1980.
Beautiful Vision (with Van Morrison), Mercury, 1982.
Infidels (with Dylan; also producer), Columbia, 1983.
Boys and Girls (with Bryan Ferry), Warner Bros., 1985.
Missing… Presumed Having a Good Time (with the Notting Hillbillies), Warner Bros., 1990.
Composer of song “Private Dancer,” recorded by Tina Turner; producer of album Knife, recorded by Aztec Camera.
Also composer and performer of soundtrack for British television documentary, “In Private and Public: The Prince and Princess of Wales,” 1986.
Motion picture Soundtracks
Local Hero, 1983.
Music from the Film “Cal,” Mercury, 1984.
Comfort and Joy, Phonogram, 1985.
Dayton Daily News, February 26, 1986.
Detroit Free Press, September 8, 1986.
down beat, June 1983; July 1984.
Guitar Player, December 1982; June 1984; September 1984.
High Fidelity, December 1982; January 1984.
Musician, September 1985.
Newsweek, November 4, 1985.
New York Times, November 14, 1980; November 13, 1983; August 24, 1984; August 26, 1984; March 3, 1985; September 4, 1985.
People, November 22, 1982; February 25, 1985; September 2, 1985; September 30, 1985; September 22, 1986.
Playboy, July 1985.
Rolling Stone, January 25, 1979; February 5, 1981; January 20, 1983; May 26, 1983; May 24, 1984; March 14, 1985; November 21, 1985.
Saturday Review, October 1985.
Springfield News-Sun (Springfield, Ohio), February 24, 1986.
Stereo Review, May 1979; August 1979; February 1981; February 1983; September 1983; August 1984; September 1985; November 1985.
A brief look through Mark Knopfler’s career, and there’s no question: the man loves his job. Starting out as the singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the hit 1980s rock group Dire Straits, Knopfler branched out into producing other artists and composing music for film. To fill in the gaps, he played guitar for such major artists as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joan Armitrading, and Randy Newman. He approached every aspect of his career with the utmost dedication and motivation, mixed in with a whole lot of fun.
Born August 12, 1949, in Glasgow, Scotland, Knopfler moved to Newcastle, England as a young child. His father, originally from Hungary, was an architect, and his mother was a school teacher. Knopfler’s interest in music was sparked by his uncle’s piano playing. He recalled his inspiration to Dan Forte in Guitar Player, “I heard my uncle Kingsley playing boogie woogie on the piano when I was about eight or nine, and I thought that those three chords were the most magnificent things in the world—still do.”
As a teenager, Knopfler’s father tried to encourage his musical interest by giving him a Fender electric guitar. Unfortunately, his father didn’t know he also needed an amplifier to play it. Instead of crushing his dad’s excitement, Knopfler attempted to amplify the guitar through his family’s radio, completely destroying it.
Knopfler left home to attend journalism school at the age of 17. After graduation, he landed a job as a reporter and music critic at the Yorkshire Evening Post, where he stayed for two years. From there, he pursued an English degree at Leeds University, where he graduated in 1973. He later used his education in literature as the influence for some of his lyrics, and his favorites included William Shakespeare, Raymond Chandler, and a list of meta-physical poets.
After graduating from college, Knopfler moved to London to pursue a career in music. A struggling musician, he moved into a room that had no heat and slept on an ambulance stretcher instead of a bed. Finally, he decided to get a job teaching English part-time at Loughton College for a more stable income, and he worked there until 1977. During this time, he met bass player John Illsley, who worked at a lumber yard. The two formed what became Dire Straits with Knopfler’s brother David on rhythm guitar and Pick Withers on drums.
The group convinced a local disc jockey to play a song from their demo called “Sultans of Swing,” which resulted in a record deal with Phonogram’s Vertigo label. In 1978, Dire Straits released their self-titled debut. The following year, after Dire Straits released their second album, Communique, Knopfler played guitar on Bob Dylan’s album Slow Train Coming and Steely Dan’s Gaucho.
Mark Knopfler hit a rough spot in 1980 when he and his brother David began having creativedifferences. Mark accused David of not having enough of a commitment to the band and the friction resulted in David’s departure from the band before the release of their next album, Making Movies. Dire Straits replaced David Knopfler with guitarist Hal Lindes and recruited keyboardist Alan Clark. “David was under a lot of strain,” John Illsley told Ken Tucker and David Fricke in Rolling Stone. “Mark felt very responsible for David and didn’t quite know what to do. But once Making Movies was out and David had left, it seemed to lift a tremendous strain. Mark felt very freed.”
Dire Straits continued to perform and record between Mark Knopfler’s other projects. They released Love Over Gold in 1982, Twisting by the Pool, an EP, in 1983. They also released Alchemy: Dire Straits Live in 1984. Then, the group hit huge worldwide success in 1985 with the release of Brothers in Arms. The album and the single “Money for Nothing” soared to the top of the charts all over the world, and the album sold more than 15 million copies. The band won several awards for the album, single, and video. Their notoriety landed Knopfler and John Illsley an invitation to perform in the fourth annual Prince’s Truse Grock Gala concert in London, with such
Born August 12, 1949, in Glasgow, Scotland; married: Lourdes Salamone. Education: Leeds University, 1973.
Formed Dire Straits and signed a record contract with Vertigo Records, 1977; signed U.S. contract with Warner Bros. and released self-titled debut, 1978; released six albums and two EPs, 1979-1988; composed first film score for Local Hero, 1982; Dire Straits announced breakup, 1988; collaborated with Notting Hillbillies and Chet Atkins, 1990; Dire Straits reformed for On Every Street, 1991; released debut solo album, Golden Heart, 1996.
Addresses: Record company —Warner Bros. Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505-4694
After Dire Straits had become a global success, Knopfler announced their breakup in 1988. “A lot of press reports were saying we were the biggest band in the world,” he told Rob Tannenbaum in Rolling Stone. “There’s not an accent then on the music; there’s an accent on the popularity. I needed a rest.” He reunited with John Illsley and another incarnation of Dire Straits one more time in 1991 for the release of On Every Street.
Knopfler also expanded his pursuits into film music in the early eighties. He made his film composing debut in 1983 with the movie Local Hero. The score won a British Academy of Film and Television Award. Knopf ler’s song “Going Home” as single from the soundtrack album, also won the award for Best Film Theme or Song at the 1984 Ivor Novello Awards. His work in film music continued through the years with such films as Cal in 1984, Comfort and Joy, also in 1984. He also wrote the soundtracks to The Color of Money in 1986, The Princess Bride in 1987, Last Exit to Brooklyn in 1990, Wag the Dog in 1998, and Metroland in 1999. His scores were in such demand that Screenplaying, a sampling of his music for motion pictures was released in 1993.
Knopf ler continued performing and recording with other artists after the breakup of Dire Straits, as well. He collaborated with his long-time friends, singer/guitarist Steve Phillips, keyboardist Guy Fletcher, and singer/guitarist Brendan Croker to form the Notting Hillbillies in 1990. The group released Missing … Presumed Having a Good Time on Warner Bros. Records, and embarked on a small club tour. The band grew out of informal jam sessions among its members. “We were having so much fun, it became a band by accident,” Knopfler told Tannenbaum. That same year, Knopfler also recorded an album of duets with guitarist Chet Atkins called Neck and Neck. The album won Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal Collaboration and Best Country Insturmental Performance.
In 1996, Knopfler launched his own solo career after nearly 20 years of collaborations. He recorded his debut, Golden Heart, in Nashville, Tennessee, and Dublin, Ireland. He invited guest musicians to contribute to the album, including country artist Vince Gill and the Chieftain’s Sean Keane and Derek Bell. The first single, “Darling Pretty,” also appeared on the sound track for the film Twister.
After more than two decades of writing, performing, and recording music, Knopfler ashowed no signs of slowing down. After all, he loves his job. “My enjoyment of making records has increased with age,” he said in his record company biography. “I love to write. Being inspired, for want of a better word, is one of the best feelings you can have…. It’s a huge, glorious adventure for me, and I love being a part of it”.
Screen playing, Warner Bros. Records, 1993.
Golden Heart, Warner Bros. Records, 1996.
with Dire Straits
Dire Straits, Warner Bros. Records, 1978.
Communique, Warner Bros. Records, 1979.
Making Movies, Warner Bros. Records, 1980.
Love Over Gold, Warner Bros. Records, 1982.
Twisting by the Pool, Warner Bros. Records, 1983.
Alchemy: Dire Straits Live, Warner Bros. Records, 1984.
Brothers in Arms, Warner Bros. Records, 1985.
Money for Nothing, Warner Bros. Records, 1988.
On Every Street, Warner Bros. Records, 1991.
(with Notting Hillibillies) Missing … Presumed Having a Good Time, Columbia Records, 1990.
(with Chet Atkins) Neck and Neck, Warner Bros. Records, 1990.
Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, Billboard Books, New York, 1991.
Billboard, May 19, 1990
Entertainment Weekly, March 29, 1996.
Guitar Player, September 1984; June 1992; July 1996.
People, September 2, 1985; April 15, 1996.
Rolling Stone, November 21, 1985; April 5, 1990; December 1990; October 1991.
Stereo Review, June 1980.
“Mark Knopfler: The Story,” Warner Bros. Records, http://www.wbr.com/markknopfler, (September 18, 1998).
“Mark Knopfler: Interviews, Warner Bros. Records, http://www.wbr.com/markknopfler, (September 18, 1998).
Genre: Rock, Pop
Best-selling album since 1990: Golden Heart (1996)
British guitarist Mark Knopfler is best known as the leader of Dire Straits, one of the most popular stadium rock bands in the late 1980s. He is a virtuoso guitarist renowned for his subtle fingerpicking style and also for his laid-back demeanor and cool, understated vocals. Although Dire Straits was responsible for many hits during the heyday of MTV, Knopfler pursued many lowkey side projects including the country band Notting Hillbillies and a Grammy Award–winning collaboration with country music guitar master Chet Atkins. After abandoning Dire Straits in the early 1990s, Knopfler pursued life as a solo artist, which resulted in quieter albums of acoustic folk blues. Knopfler is also a successful film composer.
Knopfler formed Dire Straits with his brother David in the late 1970s. After a demo of their song "Sultans of Swing" became a hit in London, they got a record contract to record their debut album, which ended up selling 11 million copies worldwide in 1979. The group continued to make best-selling albums that culminated with Brothers in Arms (1985), the group's biggest seller that yielded many smash hit singles including "Walk of Life" and "Money for Nothing" (a song skewering MTV, but whose video was considered groundbreaking). The album—which ended up selling 26 million copies—defined the band's sound: wry lyrics, Knopfler's husky vocals, sly guitar leads, and a rock steady groove.
Dire Straits made its last album, On Every Street, in 1991. It failed to generate the sales of its previous album and the group disbanded. Knopfler was already involved with side projects. He produced albums for singer/songwriters Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, wrote "Private Dancer," the comeback hit for pop diva Tina Turner, scored films such as Local Hero (1983), The Princess Bride (1987), and many others, and actively pursued an interest in country music. Under the group name the Notting Hillbillies, he released a traditional country album in 1990. He also collaborated with country music guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins whose fingerpicking style he idolized.
The first album released under Knopfler's own name was Golden Heart (1996). It was recorded with Nashville session players as well as members of the Chieftains and Beausoleil, two groups known as worldwide ambassadors for Celtic and Cajun music respectively. The album moved further in the direction of Knopfler's side interests than the rock sound he established with Dire Straits. Melancholy and mostly acoustic, the album has touches of Celtic, Cajun, and country music tastefully arranged and complemented by Knopfler's sparse and melodic guitar lines. Not selling anywhere near the numbers he was used to with Dire Straits, the album did receive stellar reviews. It ultimately helped Knopfler end his career as a stadium rocker and begin a new chapter as a serious singer/songwriter.
Knopfler returned to a full rock band sound on his next album, Sailing to Philadelphia (2000). Songs like "What It Is" and "Speedway at Nazareth" had the same epic drive of Dire Straits. With each song featuring his signature guitar flourishes, Knopfler once again returned to the themes he explored in his previous band: the perversity of the powerful and the flawed charm of American success.
Two years later, Knopfler toned down his guitar god stature with The Ragpicker's Dream (2002). Sounding less the rock warrior of his early days and more a country gentleman just discovering some dusty old 78 records in his farmhouse attic, this quiet, frisky, and often eloquent set of acoustic songs is an exploration of American roots music. The intimate album glows with whispering blues ("Fare Thee Well"), jazz noir ("A Place Where We Used to Live"), and classic country from the golden age of Nashville. Knopfler bypasses grand lyrical statements in favor of scenarios about circus freaks, shoe salesmen, hoof and mouth disease, and cartoons. But his husky cool voice is seductive enough to make it sound as important as Shakespeare.
Even though he sold millions of records in the 1980s, Mark Knopfler played to a much smaller audience the decade following. His reputation as a remarkable guitarist and a compelling singer transcends the fact that his solo career did not yield the mass commercial hits he enjoyed before. Knopfler remained an Englishman enamored of American roots music as well as American themes in his music. He is respected as an eloquent craftsman who does not believe in excess, but instead makes the simplest musical statements resonate.
Golden Heart (Warner Bros., 1996); Sailing to Philadelphia (Warner Bros., 2000); The Ragpicker's Dream (Warner Bros., 2002). With Dire Straits: Dire Straits (Warner Bros., 1978); Communique (Warner Bros., 1979); Making Movies (Warner Bros., 1980); Love Over Gold (Warner Bros., 1982); Brothers in Arms (Warner Bros., 1985); On Every Street (Warner Bros., 1991).
KNOPFLER, MARK (1949– ), British singer, songwriter, and producer. Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland. After working as a journalist, he formed the rock group Dire Straits, which established itself as a serious force to be reckoned with in the late 1970s. The song "Sultans of Swing " from the album Dire Straits (1978) was critically lionized and shot out of nowhere to the top of the charts. Knopfler followed this smash debut with four more hit Dire Straits albums, Communiqué (1979), Making Movies (1980), Love over Gold (1982), which included the single "Private Investigations," and Alchemy-Live (1984). During this time Knopfler also became recognized as an outstanding guitarist. In 1985, he released Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms, which dwarfed every other record in its wake and became one of the biggest-selling albums in the history of the music industry. The album included the U.S. No. 1 single "Money for Nothing." Knopfler was then acknowledged (with Paul McCartney and David Bowie) as one of the three richest recording artists in the U.K. Knopfler waited six years before issuing a sixth Dire Straits album, On Every Street (1991), which became an instant No. 1 on the album charts, but only briefly. The band's last album was the live recording On the Night. He also produced high-quality albums for Bob *Dylan (Infidels, 1983) and Randi *Newman (Land of Dreams, 1988). Knopfler had another band, the Notting Hillbillies.
Knopfler wrote the soundtracks for a number of films as well, such as Local Hero (1983), Cal (1984), Comfort and Joy (1984), The Princess Bride (1987), Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), Tishina (1991), Wag the Dog (1997), and A Shot at Glory (2000).
In 1999 he was named an Officer of the Order of British Empire (o.b.e.) by Queen Elizabeth. In 2002 he released the solo album The Ragpicker's Dream, and in 2004 he released Shangri-la.
[Jonathan Licht /
Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]