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      Dire Straits was 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 worke... read more

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      Nov 11 Playhouse Whitley Bay Whitley Bay, GBR
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      Dire Straits was 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," "Private Investigations," "Money for Nothing," "Walk of Life" and "Brothers in Arms." In 1978, Dire Straits recorded their first album, Dire Straits, at Basing Street studios (now known as 'Sarm West') near Portobello Road in West London for £12,500.[citation needed]. After its initial UK release on Vertigo, a division of Phonogram, the album came to the attention of Karin Berg, an assistant in the artists and repertoire (A&R) department of Warner Brothers Records in New York City. While she felt it was the kind of music that audiences were hungry for, only one person in her department agreed, at first. "Other people didn't hear it," she recalled. "The act was doing poorly in the U.K., and the record wasn't getting air play. It was totally out of left field. But we fought through and took it to the label (Warner Brothers.) We signed it, put out the record and it went platinum."[citation needed] Later, re-released as a single, "Sultans of Swing" became a surprise UK chart hit, making the top 10. The first album went top ten in every European country, easing Warners' decision to sign the group.[citation needed] The group's second album, Communiqué followed in 1979. Communiqué showed as number one in the German album charts with Dire Straits simultaneously at number 3. Both albums are characterised by a stripped-down sound. However, this would change, along with the band's line-up, over the years. Mark Knopfler and John Illsley played together till the dissolution of Dire Straits, the only two founding members to do so. In 1980 Dire Straits released their 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 until the group's dissolution in the 1990s. Featuring "Romeo and Juliet", which became one of the band's best known chart hits, 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. Although Mark played on one track on brother Dave's first solo album, they did not reconcile over the years due to writing credits dispute. The album also featured keyboardist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and was produced by Jimmy Iovine. Keyboardist Alan Clark and Californian guitarist Hal Lindes joined the lineup for the fourth studio album, Love Over Gold, which was released in 1982 and was the first Dire Straits album produced by Mark Knopfler. Its main chart hit, "Private Investigations", gave Dire Straits their first UK top 5 hit single, peaking at number two despite its almost 7-minute length. In other territories, the single "Industrial Disease" was the album's calling card, particularly in Canada where it was a top 10 hit. 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. In 1983 a four-song EP was released, featuring the hit single "Twisting By the Pool". This was followed by the double live album, Alchemy, in 1984. During this time Mark Knopfler also wrote the music score for the films Local Hero and Cal. Meanwhile, Dire Straits' biggest hit was yet to come. Brothers in Arms was released in 1985 and went on to become the biggest selling album in the UK of that year and a huge hit internationally. It spawned several chart singles, including the U.S. number one hit "Money for Nothing", which was the first video ever to be played on MTV in Britain. There were further personnel changes, with the addition of a second keyboardist, Guy Fletcher. Brothers in Arms also saw the departure of Hal Lindes from the band during the recording sessions. His place was taken by Jack Sonni, though Lindes was still credited as an official band member for the album's release, while Sonni was not. Terry Williams was also joined on drums by Omar Hakim: both are credited as band members for this release. The 1985–86 world tour was phenomenally successful. While playing a thirteen-night residency at Wembley Arena, the band moved down the road to Wembley Stadium on the afternoon of 13th July 1985 to appear in Live Aid. Their set included "Money For Nothing" with Sting as guest vocalist. The tour ended at the Entertainment Centre in Sydney, Australia, where Dire Straits still holds the record for consecutive appearances (21 nights). The last show of this extended stay in Sydney was recorded and broadcast on Australian and New Zealand television, and is well known for the one-off calypso rendition of "So Far Away" and the band's impromptu attempt at the famous Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda". The commercial success of Brothers in Arms was greatly aided by being one of the first fully digitally recorded and produced albums available in the then new Compact Disc format, leading early adopters of the new technology to consider it a "must buy" album in a limited landscape of available music in CD format. The Brothers in Arms CD was one of the first CD albums to contain material not found on the LP equivalent; it featured the 12" single of Money for Nothing rather than the 7" version on the LP. "Brothers in Arms" is also reported to be the world's first CD single, issued in the UK in two separate singles as a promotional item, one distinguished with a logo for the tour, Live in '85, and a second to commemorate the Australian leg of the tour marked Live in '86. Containing just four tracks it had a very limited print run. Furthermore, the new format offered an excellent showcase for Knopfler's meticulous production values on the earlier albums, leading many existing fans to repurchase the whole back catalogue. Brothers in Arms was successful in the US, peaking at No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Top Pop Albums Chart for nine weeks, going multi-platinum, and finishing at No. 5 for 1986. Also, in a recent poll conducted in the UK it was found that Brothers in Arms is the third best selling album there of all time. After the Brothers in Arms tour ended in 1986, Dire Straits went on a lengthy hiatus and Mark Knopfler concentrated on solo projects and film soundtracks. Dire Straits regrouped for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in 1988, where they were joined for their set by Eric Clapton (who performed his hit "Wonderful Tonight" with the group). Also in 1988, drummer Terry Williams left the band. After Mark Knopfler worked and toured with the Notting Hillbillies (who had a minor hit single Your Own Sweet Way from their album Missing... Presumed Having a Good Time), Dire Straits regrouped in January 1991. By this time the band comprised four key members: Knopfler, John Illsley, and keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher. Accompanied by other part-time members or session musicians, including the highly respected American drummer Jeff Porcaro from Toto (who after recording was offered a full time role in the band, but declined due to recording commitments to Toto), the group began recording tracks for a new album. The result was the band's final original studio album, On Every Street, released in 1991, six years after the release of Brothers in Arms. A widely anticipated release, On Every Street met with mixed reviews and moderate success. It was regarded by some reviewers as an underwhelming follow up and didn't sell as well as its predecessor. The song "The Bug", taken from that album, contains backing vocals by Vince Gill who also turned down an invitation to join the band full time. The 1991–1992 world tour that followed On Every Street was not as successful as the previous one of 1985–86. A live album, On the Night, released in 1993, documented that tour, in which Chris Whitten played drums. Following the release of Live at the BBC, a collection of live recordings from their early years, Dire Straits disbanded quietly in 1995, after Knopfler expressed a desire to give up touring on a large scale and he immediately went on to work full time on solo material and film soundtracks, while the other group members pursued their own careers. Guy Fletcher has, however, continued to be associated with almost every single piece of work concerning Mark Knopfler's solo career. Three 'Best of' albums have been released, the most recent being the compilation The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations in November 2005, which consisted of material from most of Dire Straits' studio albums and Mark Knopfler's solo and soundtrack material. Surprisingly enough, the album was an underground hit, and did exceptionally well, considering the group had split up over ten years previously, and it contained only one previously unreleased track - "All The Roadrunning", a duet with Emmylou Harris later released on an album of the same name. Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler have sold in excess of 118 million albums to date. Notable Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler fans include Douglas Adams, Quentin Tarantino and the band The Killers, who performed a cover of "Romeo and Juliet" for the Live from Abbey Road series on Channel 4. Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar is another Dire Straits fan. The band System of a Down sometimes plays a part from Sultans Of Swing on their live concerts, as an intro for their song called 'Aerials'.

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