Happy Birthday to former-Dire Straits guitarist and leader Mark Knopfler, who celebrates his 71th birthday today (August 12th)!!! Knopfler formed Dire Straits in 1977 with his brother David Knopfler, bassist John Illsey, and drummer Pick Withers. They recorded their self-titled debut album after appearing as the opening act for Talking Heads‘ during their 1978 European tour.
Coming on December 10th to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Knopfler’s 1996 solo debut Golden Heart, is the new boxed set, Mark Knopfler: The Studio Albums – 1996-2007. The box features his first five solo sets Golden Heart (1996); Sailing To Philadelphia (2000); The Ragpicker’s Dream (2002); Shangri-La (2004); and Kill To Get Crimson (2007) — plus an exclusive bonus disc of studio B-sides from the period entitled Gravy Train: The B-Sides 1996-2007.
Released last fall was the six-CD collection, Dire Straits – Studio Albums 1978-1991. The set, which was previously issued as a vinyl-only set back in 2013, features all six of the band’s albums: Dire Straits (1978); Communique (1979); Making Movies (1980); Love Over Gold (1982); Brothers In Arms (1985); and On Every Street (1991).
In March 2015, Knopfler released his eighth solo album, titled, Tracker, and hit the road for an extensive North American fall tour. 2015 also saw Knopfler appearing on Van Morrison‘s album, Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue, teaming up on “Irish Heartbeat.”
In 2014, Mark Knopfler was featured on Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze, An Appreciation of JJ Cale collection, and can be heard on two of the album’s tracks — “Someday” and “Train To Nowhere.”
2012, found Knopfler serving as the opening act on Bob Dylan‘s tour. The pair first worked together during Dylan’s sessions for 1979’s Slow Train Coming, with Knopfler going on to play on and co-produce Dylan’s 1983 album, Infidels. That year, Knopfler released his seventh solo album, the critically acclaimed, Privateering.
Dire Straits’ 1978 breakthrough hit, “Sultans Of Swing,” established Knopfler as a songwriter-guitarist in the vein of both Bob Dylan and Albert King. Knopfler was a major force throughout the 1980’s writing such Dire Straits classics as “Skateaway,” “Romeo And Juliet,” “Solid Rock,” “Twisting By The Pool,” as well as “So Far Away,” “Money For Nothing,” and “Walk Of Life” from the multi-platinum 1985 Brothers In Arms album.
Knopfler folded Dire Straits for good in 1995 and has spent the recent years occasionally playing with the side project the Notting Hillbillies, recording solo albums, and scoring films, most notably Wag The Dog.
In 2003 Knopfler broke six ribs and a collarbone after his motorcycle collided with a car in London.
Although Knopfler has proven himself a master in the studio, he says that unlike some musicians, he thrives on being out on the road: “I’m one of those lucky people. I enjoy the whole deal. Touring is one of those things where, when it’s good, it’s really very good — or rather, when it’s (laughs) very good, it’s just great. It’s buoyant, and it’s great fun.”
Mark Knopfler told us that with his new material, he never knows how well it’ll hold up until he runs it through with other musicians: “What happens with a song is it sits in a notebook, and then when you start running it down with a band and stuff, it’s when it starts to slide off your notebook and go out into the world. It’s a great feeling, actually, when it’s happening. In some ways, bits of it don’t belong to you anymore, I suppose, or there’s a sense in which it doesn’t belong to you anymore.”
Mark Knopfler told us he remains proud and humbled that his songs have resonated with so many people for so long: “They’re like markers for people’s lives, a lot of these songs. People come (and) tell you the most amazing things about what they were doing, y’know, when such-and-such a record was around, and what they associate the music with. And, you know, you realize that people are using the records to live with, and that’s all right.”