Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler, July 2006
Background information
Birth name Mark Freuder Knopfler
Born 12 August 1949 (1949-08-12) (age 62)
Glasgow, Scotland
Origin Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Genres Rock
Roots rock
Celtic rock
Country rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1965–present
Labels Vertigo, Mercury, Warner
Associated acts Dire Straits
The Notting Hillbillies
Chet Atkins
Emmylou Harris
Notable instruments
Mark Knopfler Stratocaster
Fender Telecaster
Gibson Les Paul
Pensa Custom MKII

Mark Freuder Knopfler, OBE (born 12 August 1949) is a Scottish-born British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer and film score composer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the British rock band Dire Straits, which he co-founded in 1977. After Dire Straits disbanded in 1995, Knopfler went on to record and produce six solo albums, including Golden Heart (1996), Sailing to Philadelphia (2000), and Get Lucky (2009). He has composed and produced film scores for eight films, including Local Hero (1983), Cal (1984), and The Princess Bride (1987).[1] In addition to his work with Dire Straits and as a solo artist and composer, Knopfler has recorded and performed with many prominant musical artists, including Chet Atkins, The Chieftains, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Jools Holland, Sonny Landreth, and Van Morrison. He has produced albums for such artists as Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, and Randy Newman.

Knopfler is one of the most respected fingerstyle guitarists of the modern rock era, and was ranked 27th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[2] Knopfler and Dire Straits have sold in excess of 120 million albums to date.[3][4] A four-time Grammy Award winner, Knopfler is the recipient of the Edison Award and the Steiger Award, and holds three honorary doctorate degrees in music from universities in the United Kingdom.[5][6]


Early life (1949–1976)

Mark Freuder Knopfler was born on 12 August 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland, to an English mother and Hungarian Jewish father—an architect whose anti-fascist sympathies forced him to flee from his native Hungary.[7] The family settled in Knopfler's mother's home town of Blyth, Northumberland in North East England when he was 7 years old. He and his younger brother David attended Gosforth Grammar School. Inspired by his uncle Kingsley's harmonica and boogie-woogie piano playing, he wanted to buy an expensive Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster just like Hank Marvin's, but had to settle for a £50 twin-pick-up Höfner Super Solid.[8] During the 1960s, he formed and joined schoolboy bands and listened to singers like Elvis Presley and guitarists Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, B.B King, Django Reinhardt, Hank Marvin, and James Burton. At 16, he made a local TV appearance as part of a harmony duo, with his classmate Sue Hercombe.[8]

In 1968, after studying journalism for a year at Harlow Technical College,[8][9] Knopfler was hired as a junior reporter in Leeds for the Yorkshire Evening Post.[10] Two years later, he decided to further his studies, and went on to graduate with a degree in English at the University of Leeds.[11] In April 1970, while living in Leeds, Knopfler recorded a demo disk of an original song he'd written, "Summer's Coming My Way". The recording included Mark Knopfler (guitar and vocals), Steve Phillips (second guitar), Dave Johnson (bass), and Paul Granger (percussion). Johnson, Granger, and vocalist Mick Dewhirst played with Mark in the band Silverheels.

Upon graduation in 1973, Knopfler moved to London and joined a High Wycombe-based band called Brewers Droop, appearing on the album The Booze Brothers. One night while spending some time with friends, the only guitar available was an old acoustic with a badly warped neck that had been strung with extra-light strings to make it playable. Even so, he found it impossible to play unless he finger-picked it. He said in a later interview, "That was where I found my 'voice' on guitar." After a brief stint with Brewers Droop, Knopfler took a job as a lecturer at Loughton College in Essex—a position he held for three years. Throughout this time, he continued performing with local pub bands, including the Café Racers.[12] He also formed a duo with long-time associate bluesman Steve Phillips called The Duolian String Pickers.

By the mid-1970s, Knopfler devoted much of his musical energies to his group, the Café Racers. His brother David moved to London, where he shared a flat with John Illsley—a guitarist who changed over to bass guitar. In April 1977, Mark gave up his flat in Buckhurst Hill and moved in with David and John. The three began playing music together, and soon Mark invited John to join the Café Racers.[13]

Dire Straits (1977–1995)

Dire Straits' first demos were done in three sessions during 1977, with Pick Withers as drummer, David Knopfler as rhythm guitarist and John Illsley on bass guitar. On 27 July 1977 they recorded the now famous demo tapes of five songs: "Wild West End", "Sultans of Swing", "Down To The Waterline", "Sacred Loving" (a David Knopfler song) and "Water of Love". In what was probably October they recorded "Southbound Again", "In The Gallery" and "Six Blade Knife" for BBC Radio London and, finally, on 9 November demo tapes were made of "Setting Me Up", "Eastbound Train" and "Real Girl". Many of these songs reflected Mark's experiences in Newcastle, Leeds and London, and were to be featured on their first album, the self-titled Dire Straits which was released in the following year: "Down To The Waterline" recalled images of life in Newcastle; "In The Gallery" is a tribute to a Leeds sculptor/artist named Harry Phillips, (father of Steve Phillips); and "Lions", "Wild West End" and "Eastbound Train" were all drawn from Mark's early days in the capital.

Knopfler with Dire Straits, 1979

Initially on its release, Dire Straits received little fanfare in the UK, but when "Sultans of Swing" was released as a single it became a chart hit in The Netherlands and album sales took off across Europe and then in the United States and Canada, and finally the UK. The group's second album, Communiqué, produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, followed in 1979, reaching number one in France while the first album was still at number three.

There were frequent personnel changes within Dire Straits after the release of their third album Making Movies, with Mark Knopfler increasingly becoming the driving force behind the group. Released in 1980, Making Movies marked a move towards more complex arrangements and production which continued for the remainder of the group's career. The album included many of Mark Knopfler's most personal compositions, most notably "Romeo and Juliet" and "Tunnel of Love". Love over Gold followed in 1982 and included the UK #2 hit "Private Investigations", "Telegraph Road", "Industrial Disease" and "It Never Rains" as well as the title track to that album.

With Love Over Gold still in the albums charts, the band released a four-song EP titled ExtendedancEPlay in early 1983. Featuring the hit single "Twisting By the Pool", this was the first output by the band that featured new drummer Terry Williams, (formerly of Rockpile), who had replaced Pick Withers in November 1982. A world tour followed later in 1983, and in March 1984 the double album Alchemy Live was released. Alchemy Live documented the recordings of two live shows in Hammersmith Odeon in London in July 1983, and reached number three in the UK Albums Chart.

During 1983 and 1984 Knopfler was involved with other projects as well, including writing and producing the music score to the film Local Hero which was a large success,[14] and it was followed in 1984 by his scores for the films Cal and Comfort and Joy. Also during this time Knopfler produced Bob Dylan's Infidels album, as well as Aztec Camera and Willy DeVille; he also wrote Private Dancer for Tina Turner's comeback album of the same name.

Knopfler with Dire Straits, National Stadium Dublin 1 January 1981

Dire Straits' biggest studio album by far was their fifth, Brothers in Arms, recorded at Air Studios Montserrat and released in May 1985. It became an international blockbuster which has now sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, and is the fourth best selling album in UK chart history.[15][16] Brothers In Arms spawned several chart singles including the US # 1 hit "Money for Nothing", which was the first video ever to be played on MTV in Britain. It was also the first compact disc to sell a million copies and is largely credited for launching the CD format as it was also one of the first DDD[17] CDs ever released. Other successful singles were "So Far Away", "Walk of Life", and the album's title track. The band's 1985–86 world tour of over 230[8] shows was immensely successful.

After the Brothers in Arms tour Dire Straits went on a lengthy hiatus, with Knopfler concentrating mainly on film soundtracks. Knopfler joined the charity ensemble Ferry Aid on "Let It Be" in the wake of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster. The song reached #1 on the UK singles chart in March 1987. Knopfler wrote the music score for the film The Princess Bride which was released at the end of 1987.

Mark Knopfler also took part in a comedy skit (featured on the French and Saunders Show) titled "The Easy Guitar Book Sketch" with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow British musicians David Gilmour, Lemmy from Motorhead, Mark King from Level 42, and Gary Moore. Guitar tech Phil Taylor explained in an interview that Knopfler used Gilmour's guitar rig and managed to sound like himself when performing in the skit.[18]

Dire Straits regrouped for the 11 June 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium, in which they were the headline act, and were accompanied by Elton John and Eric Clapton,[19] who by this time had developed a strong friendship with Knopfler. Shortly after this, drummer Terry Williams left the band. In September 1988 Mark Knopfler announced the official dissolution of Dire Straits, saying that he "needed a rest",[20] and in October 1988, a "best of" album, Money for Nothing, was released and reached number one in the United Kingdom.[21]

In 1989 Knopfler formed The Notting Hillbillies,[8] a band at the other end of the commercial spectrum. It leaned heavily towards American roots music - folk, blues and country music. The band members included keyboardist Guy Fletcher, with Brendan Croker and Steve Phillips. For both the album and the tour Paul Franklin was added to the line-up on pedal steel. The Notting Hillbillies sole studio album, Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time was released in 1990, and Knopfler then toured with the Notting Hillbillies for the remainder of that year. He further emphasised his country music influences with his 1990s collaboration with Chet Atkins, Neck and Neck. The Hillbillies toured the UK in early 1990 with a limited number of shows, it was strictly low key, packing out smaller venues, such as Newcastle University.

In 1990 Knopfler, John Illsley, and Alan Clark performed as Dire Straits at the Knebworth gig, joined by Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper, and guitarist Phil Palmer (who was at that time part of Eric Clapton's touring band), and in January the following year, Knopfler, John Illsley and manager Ed Bicknell decided to reform Dire Straits. Knopfler, Illsley, Alan Clark, and Guy Fletcher set about recording what turned out to be their final studio album accompanied by several part-time sidemen, including Phil Palmer, Paul Franklin, percussionist Danny Cummings and Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro.

The follow-up to Brothers In Arms was finally released in September 1991. On Every Street was nowhere near as popular as its predecessor, and met with a mixed critical reaction, with some reviewers regarding the album as an underwhelming comeback after a six year break. Nonetheless, the album sold well and reached #1 in the UK. A gruelling world tour to accompany the album followed, which lasted until the end of 1992. This was to be Dire Straits' final world tour; it was not as well received as the previous Brothers In Arms tour, and by this time Mark Knopfler had had enough of such massive operations. This drove the band into the ground, and ultimately led to the group's final dissolution in 1995.[22]

Following the tour, Knopfler took some time off from the music business. In 1993, he received an honorary music doctorate from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.[23] Two more Dire Straits albums were released, both live albums. On the Night, released in May 1993, documented Dire Straits' final world tour. In 1995, following the release of Live at the BBC, Mark Knopfler quietly dissolved Dire Straits and launched his career as a solo artist.

Since the break-up of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler has shown no interest in reforming the group. However, keyboardist Guy Fletcher has been associated with almost every piece of Knopfler's solo material to date, while Danny Cummings has also frequently contributed, including on Knopfler's last three solo album releases All the Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris), Kill to Get Crimson and Get Lucky. In October 2008 Knopfler declined a suggestion by John Illsley that they should reform. Illsley said that a reunion would be "entirely up to Mark", however he also suggested that Knopfler is enjoying his continued success as a solo artist, saying that "He's doing incredibly well as a solo artist, so hats off to him. He's having a perfectly good time doing what he's doing".[24] Knopfler meanwhile is quoted as saying "Oh, I don't know whether to start getting all that stuff back together again", and that the global fame that came his way in the 1980s "just got too big".[24]

Solo career (1996–present)

Mark Knopfler in Bilbao, July 2001

Mark Knopfler's first solo album, Golden Heart, featuring the UK single "Darling Pretty", was released in March 1996. During the recording sessions for the album the main line-up of Knopfler's backing band, also known as "The 96ers," was formed, featuring Knopfler's old bandmate Guy Fletcher on keyboards, and has lasted much longer than any Dire Straits line-up.

Also in 1996, Mark Knopfler recorded guitar for Ted Christopher's Dunblane massacre tribute cover of Knocking on Heaven's Door

In 1997 Knopfler recorded the soundtrack for the movie Wag the Dog. During that same year Rolling Stone magazine listed "Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll", which included "Sultans of Swing", Dire Straits' first hit. 2000 saw the release of Knopfler's next solo album, Sailing to Philadelphia. This has been his most successful to date, possibly helped by the number of collaborators to the album like Van Morrison.

In 2002 Mark Knopfler gave four charity concerts with former Dire Straits members John Illsley, Chris White, Danny Cummings and Guy Fletcher, playing old material from the Dire Straits years. The concerts also featured The Notting Hillbillies with Brendan Croker and Steve Phillips. At these four concerts (three of the four were at the Shepherd's Bush, the fourth at Beaulieu on the south coast) they were joined by Jimmy Nail, who provided backing vocals for Knopfler's 2002 composition "Why Aye Man".

Also in 2002 Knopfler released his third solo album, The Ragpicker's Dream. However, in March 2003 he was involved in a motorbike crash in Grosvenor Road, Belgravia and suffered a broken collarbone, broken shoulder blade and seven broken ribs.[25] The planned Ragpicker's Dream tour was subsequently cancelled, but Knopfler recovered and was able to return to the stage in 2004 for his fourth album, Shangri-La.

Shangri-La was recorded at the Shangri-La Studio in Malibu, California in 2004, where The Band made recordings years before for their documentary/movie, The Last Waltz. In the promo for "Shangri-La" on his official website he said that his current line-up of Glenn Worf (bass), Guy Fletcher (keyboards), Chad Cromwell (drums), Richard Bennett (guitar) and Matt Rollings (piano) "play Dire Straits songs better than Dire Straits did." The "Shangri-La" tour took Mark to countries like India and the United Arab Emirates for the first time. In India, his concerts at Mumbai and Bangalore were very well received, with over 20,000 fans gathering at each concert to listen to a legend many thought would never visit their country.

In November 2005 a compilation, The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations was released, consisting of material from most of Dire Straits' studio albums and Mark Knopfler's solo and soundtrack material. The album was made available in two editions: a single CD (with a grey cover) and also as double CD (with the cover in blue), and was well-received. The only previously unreleased track on the album is "All the Roadrunning", a duet with country music singer Emmylou Harris, which was followed in 2006 by an album of duets of the same name.

Mark Knopfler in 2005

Released in April 2006, All the Roadrunning reached #1 in Denmark and Switzerland, #2 in Norway and Sweden, #3 in Germany, Holland and Italy, #8 in Austria and UK, #9 in Spain, #17 in the United States (Billboard Top 200 Chart), #25 in Ireland and #41 in Australia. All the Roadrunning was nominated for "Best Folk Rock/Americana Album" at the 49th Grammy Awards (11 February 2007) but lost out to Bob Dylan's nomination for Modern Times.

Joined by Emmylou Harris, Knopfler supported All the Roadrunning with a limited – 15 gigs in Europe, 1 in Canada and 8 in the USA – but highly successful tour of Europe and N America. Selections from the duo's 28 June performance at the Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City, California, were released as a DVD entitled Real Live Roadrunning on 14 November 2006. In addition to several of the compositions that Harris and Knopfler recorded together in the studio, Real Live Roadrunning features solo hits from both members of the duo, as well as three tracks from Knopfler's days with Dire Straits.

A charity event in 2007 went wrong. A Fender Stratocaster guitar signed by Knopfler, Clapton, Brian May, and Jimmy Page was to be auctioned for £20,000 to raise the money for a children's hospice, was lost when being shipped. It "vanished after being posted from London to Leicestershire, England". Parcelforce, the company responsible, has agreed to pay US$30,000 for its loss.[26]

Knopfler released his fifth solo studio-album Kill to Get Crimson on 14 September 2007 in Germany, 17 September in the UK and 18 September in the United States. During the autumn of 2007 he played a series of intimate 'showcases' in various European cities to promote the album. A tour of Europe and North America followed in 2008. Many older songs from the early solo days, such as Cannibals (from Golden Heart), were brought back to life. Cannibals opened up shows throughout Europe. Cannibals was received extremely well particularly in Ireland as it was released by an Irish Country Artist David Maguire in 2007. The new version of Cannibals that David Maguire and his Band released was the 7th most requested song on Irish radio that year.

Continuing a pattern of high productivity through his solo career, Knopfler began work on his next studio album, entitled Get Lucky, in September 2008 with long-time band mate Guy Fletcher, who again compiled a pictorial diary of the making of the album on his website.[27] The album was released on September 14 the following year and Knopfler subsequently undertook an extensive tour across Europe and America. The album met with moderate success on the charts (much of it in Europe) reaching #1 only in Norway but peaking in the Top 5 in most major European countries (Germany, Italy, Holland). The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard European Album chart and at #5 on the Billboard Rock Album chart.[28]

Knopfler's solo live performances can be characterized as relaxed—almost workmanlike. He uses very little stage production, other than some lighting effects to enhance the music's dynamics. He has been known to sip tea on stage during live performances. Richard Bennett, who has been playing with him on tour since 1996, has also joined in drinking tea with him on stage. On 31 July 2005, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, BC, the tea was replaced with whiskey as a "last show of tour" sort of joke.[29]

In February 2009, Knopfler gave an intimate solo concert at the Garrick Club in London. Knopfler had recently become a member of the exclusive gentlemen's club for men of letters.[30]

In 2010, Knopfler appeared on the newest Thomas Dolby release, the EP Amerikana. Knopfler performed on the track "17 Hills".[31]

In February 2011, Knopfler began work on his next solo album, once again working with Guy Fletcher. A release date is yet to be announced.[32] In July 2011, it was announced that Knopfler would take time out from recording this album in order to take part in a European tour with Bob Dylan during October and November.[33]

Country music

Mark Knopfler in 2006 performing with Emmylou Harris

In addition to his work in Dire Straits and solo, Mark Knopfler has made several contributions to country music. In 1988 he formed country-focused band The Notting Hillbillies,[8] with Guy Fletcher, Brendan Croker and Steve Phillips. The Notting Hillbillies sole studio album, Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time was released in 1990 and featured the minor hit single "Your Own Sweet Way". Knopfler further emphasised his country music influences with his collaboration with Chet Atkins, Neck and Neck, which was also released in 1990. "Poor Boy Blues", taken from that collaboration, peaked at #92.

Knopfler's other contributions include writing and playing guitar on John Anderson's 1992 single "When It Comes to You" (from his album Seminole Wind). In 1993 Mary Chapin Carpenter also released a cover of the Dire Straits song "The Bug". Randy Travis released another of Knopfler's songs, "Are We In Trouble Now", in 1996. In that same year, Knopfler's solo single "Darling Pretty" reached a peak of #87.

Knopfler collaborated with George Jones on the 1994 "The Bradley Barn Sessions" album performing guitar duties on the classic J.P. Richardson composition White Lightnin'.

Knopfler is featured on Kris Kristofferson's album "The Austin Sessions", (on the track "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends") released in 1999 by Atlantic Records.

In 2006 Knopfler and Emmylou Harris made a country album together titled All the Roadrunning. Knopfler also charted two singles on the Canadian country music singles chart.

Again in 2006, Knopfler contributed the song "Whoop De Doo" to Jimmy Buffett's "Gulf and Western" style album "Take the Weather with You".

Personal life

Mark Knopfler has been married three times. His first marriage was to Kathy White, his long-time girlfriend from school days. They separated before Knopfler moved to London to join Brewers Droop in 1973.[8] In November 1983, Knopfler married his second wife, Lourdes Salomone. Their marriage produced twin sons, Benji and Joseph (born 1987), both of whom are musically talented and aspiring musicians, according to Knopfler.[19] His marriage to Salomone ended in 1993.[22] On Valentine's Day 1997, Knopfler married his third and current wife, British actress and writer Kitty Aldridge on the Caribbean island of Barbados. They had been dating for three years.[34] Their marriage so far has produced two daughters, Isabella (born 1998) and Katya Ruby Rose (born 2003). The family currently lives in Chelsea.[8]

Musical style and equipment

Musical style

Knopfler with Schecter Stratocaster, Amsterdam in 1981

Mark Knopfler is left-handed, but plays right-handed, and fingerpicks (using a personal variant of the clawhammer style) instead of using a plectrum (i.e., "pick"). Fingerpicking is usually associated with the acoustic guitar, but Knopfler usually (though not always) plays an electric guitar. He revealed during a French interview that he uses a pick for his rhythm work during recording sessions. He surprised the interviewer by pulling a pick out of his pocket and saying that he usually carries one. He has long favoured Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster style guitars. Fender carries a Mark Knopfler Artist Series Stratocaster.[35] During the 1980s he came to appreciate the tone of the Gibson Les Paul and his original 1958 has been used regularly in the studio and on stage.


Knopfler has approximated that he now owns "around 70 guitars".[36] They include:

  • National Triplate, 1930s National Style O 14 fret
  • Pensa Custom MKII, a custom Pensa guitar given to Knopfler by his friend Rudy Pensa in 2005[37]
  • Pensa custom-built solid body guitars, models MK-1, MK-2, and MK-80 are named in Knopfler's honour[38]
  • Red-painted (Stratocaster style) Melancon Pro Artist[39]
  • Hofner V-2 (Mark's first guitar)
  • Fender Stratocasters, including a 1962 Fiesta Red and a 1954 Sunburst (one of the first ever produced), which Knopfler named "Jurassic Strat"[40]
  • Gibson Les Paul Special (used in the 1970s)
  • National Tricone 1928 model
  • National Style O Resonator guitar 1937 model ("Romeo and Juliet"), a replica of which is available from National Resophonic Guitars
  • Fender Telecaster 1952
  • Burns Baldwin 12-string ("Angel of Mercy" and the Get Lucky album)
  • Ovation Acoustic
  • Schecter Telecaster and Stratocaster models (from 1980 on)
  • Rickenbacker 425 (Used on Portobello Belle, later on The Ragpicker's Dream session)
  • Fernandes Stratocaster
  • Ovation Adams (Love Over Gold album, Brothers in Arms tour)
  • Gibson Chet Atkins (Love Over Gold album)
  • Erlewine Automatic ("Industrial Disease")
  • Martin Acoustics, HD-40MK, 000-40S Mark Knopfler, and 00028 ("Brothers in Arms")
  • Gibson SG (Two Young Lovers, Alchemy tour)
  • Gibson Les Paul 1958, 1959, and 1984 models
  • Pensa-Suhr R Custom (Knopfler's first Pensa) (Brothers in Arms album, "Ride Across the River" and "So far Away")
  • Gretsch Super Chet, 6120 (Golden Heart album)
  • Steinberger GL2 (Brothers in Arms tour)
  • Beltona Electro Resonator
  • Flamed Pensa, 3 models (late 1980s)
  • Gibson J45 (On Every Street album)
  • Gibson Super 400 (On Every Street album and tour)
  • Godin L.R. Baggs (On Every Street tour)
  • Red Pensa (On Every Street tour)
  • Ramírez Spanish Guitar (from 1992 on)
  • Pensa-Suhr, black (Golden Heart album and tour)
  • Gibson ES-335
  • Danelectro Silvertone
  • Gibson Southerner
  • Fender Jazzmaster
  • Eko 700
  • Teisco Spectrum, 2 models
  • Danelectro 59 DC
  • Fender Duo Sonic 11 (Kill to Get Crimson album)
  • Gibson Advanced Jumbo
  • Gibson ES-330
  • NS 14, Steve Phillips (Get Lucky album)
  • Monteleone Isabella
  • Don Grosh Electrajet
  • Gibson Dove


Throughout his career Knopfler has used a wide selection of effect pedals in the studio and during live performances.[41] Here is a list of some of them:


Knopfler has often used many different combinations of amplifiers and cabinets to create his desired sounds.[42]

On the "Get Lucky" tour in 2010, Knopfler is using a pair of custom built Reinhardt guitar amp heads with matching cabinets,[43][44] and a Tone King combo in between that is used on some songs.[45]

Honors and awards

  • 1983 BRIT Award for Best British Group (with Dire Straits)
  • 1986 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal with Dire Straits (for "Money for Nothing")
  • 1986 Grammy Award nomination for Song of the Year (for "Money for Nothing")
  • 1986 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for "Cosmic Square Dance")
  • 1986 Juno Award for International Album of the Year (for Brothers in Arms with Dire Straits)
  • 1986 BRIT Award for Best British Group (with Dire Straits)
  • 1987 BRIT Award for Best British Album (for Brothers in Arms with Dire Straits)
  • 1991 Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Collaboration with Chet Atkins (for "Poor Boy Blues")
  • 1991 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for "So Soft, Your Goodbye")
  • 1992 Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for "Neck and Neck")
  • 1993 Honorary Doctor of Music from Newcastle University[46]
  • 1995 Honorary Doctor of Music from the University of Leeds
  • 1999 OBE[47]
  • 2001 Masiakasaurus knopfleri (a species of dinosaur) was named after him by scientists who had listened to his music while digging the fossils.[48]
  • 2003 Edison Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Music Industry, the highest award for musicians in the Netherlands[49][50]
  • 2006 Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album (for Brothers in Arms 20th Anniversary Edition with Dire Straits)
  • 2007 Honorary Doctor of Music from the University of Sunderland[51]
  • 2007 Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album with Emmylou Harris (for "All the Roadrunning").
  • 2009 Music Producers Guild Award for Best Studio (for Knopfler's British Grove Studios[52]
  • 2009 PRS for Music Heritage Award (with Dire Straits)
  • 2011 Steiger Award

Knopfler's influence

  • Played together with Dire Straits' drummer Pick Withers on Bob Dylan's studio album Slow Train Coming, which was recorded in May 1979 and released 20 August; providing Dylan with what Dylan considered his best guitar backing since the days of Mike Bloomfield and Robbie Robertson. Knopfler also played in and co-produced Dylan's 1983 album Infidels.
  • British author and humorist Douglas Adams said about Knopfler, in his book So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: "Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff drink."[53]
  • The dinosaur species Masiakasaurus knopfleri was named after Knopfler. The palaeontologists were listening to Dire Straits recordings when they discovered the species.[54]
  • On "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of "Money for Nothing", "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", which merges the instrumentals of "Money For Nothing" with the lyrics to the theme song for the American television series The Beverly Hillbillies ("The Ballad of Jed Clampett"), Knopfler played guitar in the song, recreating the guitar riff from the original song. He would only allow Yankovic to parody the song if he was allowed to play on the recording.
  • Knopfler's song "Going Home" from the soundtrack to Local Hero is played before kick-off at Newcastle United's home matches at St James' Park.[55]
  • "Going Home" is also the theme music for John Stanley on Sydney radio station 2UE.
  • According to director Rob Reiner, Knopfler agreed to write the music for Reiner's The Princess Bride on one condition: Reiner had to put the hat that he wore in This Is Spinal Tap in Princess Bride, "somewhere in evidence", as homage to the rock mockumentary. The hat makes its appearance in Princess Bride in the Grandson's (Fred Savage) bedroom.[56]
  • Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar is a fan of Mark Knopfler. They once had a joint interview on cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle's show Harsha Online.[57]
  • The 2008 stage production Celtic Thunder has covers of multiple Mark Knopfler songs. "Brothers in Arms", written by Mark Knopfler and performed originally by Dire Straits, is performed by Ryan Kelly. As well, the song "Irish Boy" (from Cal) and "Going Home" (from Local Hero) are performed together as an instrumental, entitled "Cal/Local Hero".


Dire Straits albums

Solo albums

Soundtrack albums

Collaborative albums

Produced albums

  • Infidels (1983) by Bob Dylan. Although Mark disowned the reworked version of the album as released,[58] his production is still noticeable. Left off the album, but later released on The Bootleg Series, is the critically acclaimed "Blind Willie McTell", featuring only Dylan, singing and playing piano, accompanied by Mark Knopfler on acoustic guitar.
  • Knife (1984) by Aztec Camera. This Scottish indie/new wave band was mostly a vehicle for the work of Roddy Frame, much as Dire Straits only ever recorded Mark Knopfler compositions.
  • Miracle (1987) by Willy DeVille. The album was dedicated to Mark and his wife "for their support which was nothing short of a Miracle in a time of Dire Straits." The album ends with the ballad "Storybook Love", the theme from The Princess Bride movie.
  • Land of Dreams (1988) by Randy Newman. The album includes the single "It's Money that Matters", which unabashedly revisits the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing".
  • The Sailor's Revenge (2011) by Bap Kennedy. As of October 2011, the album is still unreleased.

Additional albums

The following additional albums contain guitar performances or guest appearances by Mark Knopfler.[59]


  1. ^ The Biography Channel "Mark Knopfler Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved 4 March 2008. 
  2. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  3. ^ John Illsley Website "About John Illsley". John Illsley Website. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  4. ^ BBC "Dire Straits given plaque honour". BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  5. ^ University of Sunderland "Sunderland honours Sultan of Swing". University of Sunderland. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Mark Knopfler Official Website "Third Honorary Degree". Mark Knopfler Official Website. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Irwin, Colin. Dire Straits. Orion, 1994. ISBN 18-5797-584-7.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Kilburn, Terry. Mark Knopfler News "Mark Knopfler Authorized Biography". Mark Knopfler News. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  9. ^ The Journalism Centre Retrieved on 2 April 2007
  10. ^ Chaos on the Sheepscar Interchange Retrieved on 2 April 2007.
  11. ^ Who's been here Retrieved on 2 April 2007
  12. ^ "Dire Straits Biography". Musician Guide. Net Industries. 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Kilburn, Terry. "Mark Knopfler Biography". Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Local Hero (Original Soundtrack) - Mark Knopfler AllMusic Retrieved 30 December 2010
  15. ^ Mark Knopfler hurt in crash BBC News (18 March 2003) Retrieved 30 December 2010
  16. ^ Queen head all-time sales chart BBC News Retrieved 17 January 2011
  17. ^ Digitally Recorded, Digitally re/mixed and Digitally Mastered (psg)
  18. ^ "David Gilmour – DVD Draw" – The Phil Taylor Interview
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  20. ^ Dire Straits Biography on
  21. ^ International who's who in popular music p.282. Routledge, 2002
  22. ^ a b "Dire Straits lyrics, music, biography, records, band, album, videos, CD, and the discography including Dire Straits famous works". Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
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  24. ^ a b Youngs, Ian (7 October 2008). "Entertainment | Knopfler declines Straits reunion". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  25. ^ Davies, H. "Rock star hurt in motorcycle crash", The Telegraph, 19 March 2003
  26. ^ PR (accessed 6 March 2008), Legend's guitar lost in post
  27. ^ "2007gfrdhome". 30 March 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  28. ^ "The Official Community of Mark Knopfler". 27 May 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  29. ^ Guy Fletcher Website "2005 Shangri-La Tour Diary". Guy Fletcher Website. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  30. ^ Deedes, Henry. The Independent "Knopfler serenades Garrick chums". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  31. ^ Thomas Dolby Website "Thomas Dolby Prepares to Release First New Studio Album in 20 Years". Thomas Dolby Website. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  32. ^ Guy Fletcher Website "MK Studio Diary 2011". Guy Fletcher Website. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  33. ^ Mark Knopfler Official Website "Mark to tour with Bob Dylan". Mark Knopfler Official Website. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  34. ^ Wright, M. (1997) The Mirror, London, England. Available from: MARK TIES THE KNOT-FLER AGAIN; TV Kitty is wife No 3 in paradise wedding.(Features) Retrieved on 15 May 2007.
  35. ^ Mark Knopfler Stratocaster, Fender Corp.,, retrieved 2011-02-20 
  36. ^ Goodman, D. (2000) With Dire Straits no more, he sails solo, Reuters. Available from: MK INTERVIEW 2000 Retrieved on 14 May 2007.
  37. ^ "Knopfler: "Old News"". Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  38. ^ PENSA CUSTOM GUITARS: History Retrieved 14 May 2007.
  39. ^ [1]
  40. ^ Mark Knopfler's Interview – Track by Track Guide Golden Heart – Mark Knopfler Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  41. ^ Dire Straits / Mark Knopfler Guitar Page – Effects. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  42. ^ Dire Straits / Mark Knopfler Guitar Page – Amplifiers. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  43. ^ Reinhardt Amplifiers - Sultan. Retrieved 20th May 2010.
  44. ^ Reinhardt Amplifiers - Talyn. Retrieved 20th May 2010.
  45. ^ Tone King quote. Retrieved 20th May 2010.
  46. ^ Knopfler opens students' studios Retrieved on 3 April 2007.
  47. ^ (1999) BBC News | NEW YEARS HONOURS | OBE civil (K – Z) Retrieved on 14 May 2007.
  48. ^ Perlman, David (3 April 2003). "Scientists find cannibal dinosaur / Meat-eater's bones show telltale bite marks". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  49. ^ "2003 Edison Awards". Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  50. ^ "Mark Knopfler – What it is [Edison Music Awards −03]". YouTube. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  51. ^ Sunderland honours leaders in their fields, Sunderland University
  52. ^ News, Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  53. ^ Adams, D. (1984) So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, London. ISBN 0-330-28700-1
  54. ^ (2001) Palaeontologists in dire straits name dinosaur for the Sultan of Swing
  55. ^ Whetstone, D. (2006) City welcomes local hero. Available from: – projects – news
  56. ^ Commentary Excerpt: Rob Reiner on MGM's new Princess Bride: SE Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  57. ^ Commentary Excerpt: Sultan's Speak, Sachin Tendulkar interview on Star Sports. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  58. ^ Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Clinton Heylin, Summit Books (1991) ISBN 0-671-73894
  59. ^ Allmusic "Mark Knopfler Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 

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