Mark Knopfler Overview

Mark Knopfler OBE Order of the British Empire (born 12 August 1949) is a British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer and film score composer.

Mark Knopfler is best known as the lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for the British rock rock music band Dire Straits, which he co-founded in 1977 with his brother David David Knopfler . After Dire Straits disbanded in 1995, Knopfler continued to record and produce albums as a solo artist under his own name. Knopfler has played in other groups occasionally, such as the The Notting Hillbillies, and has guested on works by other artists, including The Dandy Warhols, Bob Dylan, Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Jeff Healey, John Fogerty, Jools Holland, Steely Dan, Emmylou Harris, Sonny Landreth, Phil Lynott, Joan Armatrading, the Chieftains, and Chet Atkins. He has produced albums for artists such as Tina Turner, Willy DeVille, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan and even "Weird Al" Yankovic.

His musical scores include Metroland Metroland (soundtrack) , Local Hero, Cal Cal (film) , Last Exit to Brooklyn, Wag the Dog, and Rob Reiner's classic, The Princess Bride The Princess Bride (film) .

He is one of the most respected fingerstyle Fingerstyle guitar guitarists of the modern rock rock music era and was ranked #27 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."

Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits have sold in excess of 120 million albums to date.


(1949-1976) Childhood and early life

Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland to an English mother and a Hungarian Hungarian people Jewish father, an architect whose communist sympathies forced him to flee the regime of his native Hungary. The family first moved to Scotland, but then settled in Knopfler's mother's home town of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England when he was around 7 years old. There, he and his younger brother David David Knopfler attended Gosforth Grammar School, where he was inspired by his uncle Kingsley's harmonica and boogie-woogie piano playing. Later, in his teens, he wanted to buy an expensive Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster just like Hank Marvin's Hank Marvin , but had to settle for a £50 twin-pickup Pick up (music technology) Höfner Super Solid. During the 1960s he formed and joined anonymous schoolboy bands, and listened to singers such as Elvis Presley and guitarists Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, B.B King, Django Reinhardt and James Burton. At age 16, he made a local TV appearance as half of a harmony duo along with a friend from school named Sue Hercombe. At the end of the course he secured a job in Leeds as a junior reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post. Two years later, he decided to further his studies and eventually went on to graduate with a degree in English at the University of Leeds. He left his job as a reporter, and, hoping to pursue a career in music, performed with pub bands around town. He worked as a part-time lecturer at Loughton College and played with mates in a band called the Café Racers, during this period. He also played in a few bands such as the Silver Heels and a duo with long-time associate UK bluesman Steve Phillips who was later to be a member of The Notting Hillbillies. It was also in Pudsey, Leeds, that in 1974 Knopfler recorded a "demo" tape of an original (but unreleased) song; "Summer's Coming My Way".

Knopfler later 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." Mark joined brother David in a band under the name Café Racers but also found himself another musical partner in David's flatmate, John Illsley, initially a guitarist who changed over to bass guitar and became the only other member of Dire Straits to figure throughout the band's career.

(1977-1995) The Dire Straits years

Dire Straits' first demos were done in three sessions during 1977, with Pick Withers as drummer Drum kit 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 the 9th of 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 Dire Straits (album) 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 Harry Phillips (artist) , (father of Steve Phillips Steve Phillips (musician) ); and "Lions", "Wild West End" and "Eastbound Train" were all drawn from Mark's early days in the capital.

Initially on its release, Dire Straits Dire Straits (album) 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 Communiqué (album) , 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 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 contained many of Mark Knopfler's most personal compositions, with the song "Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet (song) ", about a failed love affair becoming what critics call his best-loved song; with a trademark he developed keeping personal songs under fictitious names. CDs ever released. Other successful singles were "So Far Away So Far Away (Dire Straits song) ", "Walk of Life Walk of Life (Dire Straits song) ", and the album's title track Brothers in Arms (song) . The band's 1985–86 world tour of over 230

Dire Straits regrouped in 1988 for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium Wembley Stadium (1923) , in which they were the headline act, and were accompanied by Elton John and Eric Clapton,
Additionally in 1988, Knopfler formed The Notting Hillbillies,

Two live albums were released after On Every Street. Released in 1993, On the Night documented Dire Straits' final world tour. In 1995, following the release of Live at the BBC Live at the BBC (Dire Straits album) , Mark Knopfler quietly laid Dire Straits to rest and launched his solo career.

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, and Danny Cummings has made frequent appearances, including one on Knopfler's 2007 solo album, Kill to Get Crimson. 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", while Knopfler 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".

(1996-present) As a solo artist

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.

In 2002 Mark Knopfler gave four charity concerts with former Dire Straits members John Illsley, Chris White Chris White (saxophonist) , 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 Empire, the fourth at Beaulieu Beaulieu, Hampshire 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. 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 (Mark Knopfler album) .

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 Bass guitar ), Guy Fletcher (keyboards Keyboard instrument ), Chad Cromwell (drums Drum kit ), Richard Bennett Richard Bennett (guitarist) (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 Bombay 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 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.

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 Billboard magazine 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 Modern Times (Bob Dylan album) .

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 (or $40,000) 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 $30,000 for its loss.

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.

Continuing a pattern of high productivity through his solo career, Knopfler began work on his next studio album, entitled Get Lucky Get Lucky (Mark Knopfler album) , 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. The album was released in September the following year and Knopfler will be on tour again in 2010. Knopfler is a member of the Garrick Club in London and played an intimate solo gig there in February 2009.In addition to his work in Dire Straits and solo, Mark Knopfler has made several contributions to country music. In 1988 he formed country country music -focused band The Notting Hillbillies, with Guy Fletcher, Brendan Croker and Steve Phillips Steve Phillips (musician) . 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 John Anderson (musician) '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 The Bug (song) ". 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 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.Mark Knopfler has been married three times. While he was living in Leeds he married Kathy White, his long-time girlfriend from school days; however, the marriage didn't last, and they separated before Knopfler moved to London to join Brewers Droop. has given him two daughters Isabella (born 1998) and Katya Ruby Rose (born 2003). The family currently lives in Chelsea Chelsea, London .Mark Knopfler is left-handed, but plays right-handed, and fingerpicks fingerpicking (using a personal variant of the clawhammer style) instead of using a plectrum (i.e., "pick guitar pick "). Fingerpicking is usually associated with the acoustic guitar Steel-string guitar , but Knopfler usually (though not always) plays an electric guitar. Knopfler revealed during a French interview that he uses a pick for his rhythm work during recording sessions. Knopfler surprised the interviewer by pulling a pick plectrum out of his pocket and saying that he usually carries one. Knopfler has long favoured Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster Fender Stratocaster style guitars and his Artist Series Stratocaster Fender Stratocaster#Replica models / famous Strat players can be viewed . 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". They include:

*Pensa Custom MKII Pensa Custom Guitars A custom Pensa Guitar given to Knopfler by his friend, Rudy Pensa, in 2005.
*Fender Stratocasters including a Fiesta Red '62 and a 1954 sunburst (one of the first ever produced) which he has named "Jurassic Strat"
*Fender 1952 Telecaster Fender Telecaster .
*Red-painted (Stratocaster style) Melancon Pro Artist.
*Gibson Les Pauls several different including two from the 1950s.
*Danelectro 59-DCs Danelectro 59 DC
*Pensa custom-built solid body guitars, the model MK-1 MK-2 & MK-80, are named in honour of Knopfler.
*Schecter Schecter Guitar Research Telecaster and Stratocaster models.
*National Style 0 Resonator guitar, from 1937 as used on "Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet (song) ". A replica of which is now available from National Resophonic Guitars.
*Ramirez José Ramírez Spanish Guitar Classical guitar , used on "Postcard from Paraguay"
* C. F. Martin & Company Martin Acoustics, Model HD-40MK and 000-40S Mark Knopfler, he also used a Martin 00028 on "Brothers in Arms Brothers in Arms (album) ".


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

*Alesis Quadraverb Alesis
*BOSS Boss Corporation BF-2 Flanger Flanging
*BOSS CE-2 Chorus Chorus effect
*BOSS CE-300 Chorus Chorus effect
*BOSS CS-2 Compressor Dynamic range compression
*BOSS DM-2 Delay Delay (audio effect)
*MXR Micro Amp MXR

*BOSS OC-2 Octaver
*BOSS PH-2 Phaser Phaser (effect)
*DeltaLab Digital Delay Delay (audio effect)
*Ibanez UE 303 Multi Effect Ibanez
*Lexicon Lexicon (company) 300 Reverb Reverberation
*Mantec Preamp Preamplifier
*Master Room Reverb Reverberation

*Morley Volume Pedal Morley Pedals
*Mic-Mix Dyna-Flanger Flanging
*MXR Analog Delay Delay (audio effect)
*Roland Roland Corporation Graphic Equalizer Equalization
*Roland Roland Corporation SRE 555 Chorus/Echo Chorus effect
*Yamaha REV 5 Reverberation
*Zoom Multieffect 9010 Zoom Corporation


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

*Crate VC5212 amplifier Crate Amplifiers
*Crate 2x12 cabinet Crate Amplifiers
*Fender Concert
*Fender Vibrolux Fender Amplifiers
*Fender Twin Reverb

*Gallien & Krueger amplifier Gallien-Krueger
*Jim Kelley combo
*Jim Kelley heads
*Marshall JTM heads Marshall Amplification
*Marshall 4x12 cabinet

*Mesa Boogie heads Mesa Boogie
*Music Man HD 130 Music Man (company)
*Soldano SLO 100 Soldano
*Roland Jazz Chorus Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier
*Vox AC30*Knopfler has been known to sip tea on stage during live performances. Richard Bennett, who has been attending Knopfler's tours 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 in respect of ritual "last show of tour" sort of joke.* The Edison Award was awarded to Mark Knopfler for Outstanding Achievements in the Music Industry, the highest award for musicians in the Netherlands.
* Grammy Awards 1986 - Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for Cosmic Square Dance)
* Grammy Awards 1991 - Best Country Vocal Collaboration with Chet Atkins (for Poor Boy Blues')
* Grammy Awards 1991 - Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for So Soft, Your Goodbye)
* In 1993, Knopfler was made an honorary Doctor of Music at Newcastle University.
* In 1999, Knopfler was made an OBE Order of the British Empire .
* In Summer 1995, Knopfler was made an honorary Doctor of Music at the University of Leeds.
* In 2001, the Masiakasaurus knopfleri (a species of dinosaur) was named after him by scientists who had listened to his music while digging the fossils.* On 11 July 2007, Knopfler was made an honorary Doctor of Music at Sunderland University.
* Knopfler along with his band Dire Straits won the 1986 Grammy award for "Best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal" for their song "Money for Nothing."
* In February 2009, Knopfler's British Grove Studios was the winner of the Music Producers Guild Award for 'Best Studio'.* Grammy Awards 1986 - Song of the Year (songwriter) (for 'Money for Nothing Money for Nothing (song) ')
* Grammy Awards 1992 - Best Country Instrumental Performance with Chet Atkins (for 'Neck and Neck')
* Grammy Awards 2007 - Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album with Emmylou Harris (for 'All the Roadrunning')* 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 beer."

* The dinosaur species Masiakasaurus knopfleri was named after Knopfler. The paleontologists were listening to Dire Straits recordings when they discovered the species.

* On "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of "Money for Nothing Money for Nothing (song) ", "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", Knopfler played guitar in the song, recreating the memorable guitar riff from the original song.

*Knopfler's song "Going Home" from the soundtrack Local Hero (album) to Local Hero is played before kick-off at Newcastle United's home matches at St James' Park.

*"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 The Princess Bride (film) 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.

*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.

* The 2008 stage production Celtic Thunder Celtic Thunder#The 2008 staged-production appropriating the name .22Celtic Thunder.22 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 Cal (film) ) and "Going Home" (from Local Hero) are performed together as an instrumental, entitled "Cal/Local Hero".
With Dire Straits

Solo albums

Soundtrack albums

Other albums

* Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time (The Notting Hillbillies) (1990)
* Neck and Neck (with Chet Atkins) (1990)
* The Booze Brothers Brewers Droop#the booze brothers (with Brewers Droop) (1973/1989)
* All the Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris, April 2006)
* Real Live Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris, November 2006)


* Infidels (1983) by Bob Dylan. Although Mark disowned the reworked version of the album as released, his production is still noticeable. Left off the album, but later released on The Bootleg Series The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 , is the critically acclaimed "Blind Willie McTell" Blind Willie McTell (song) , featuring only Dylan, singing and playing piano, accompanied by Mark Knopfler on acoustic guitar.
* Knife Knife (album) (1984) by Aztec Camera, a Scottish indie/new wave band, which was mostly a vehicle for the work of Roddy Frame, much as Dire Straits only ever recorded Mark Knopfler compositions.
* Miracle Miracle (Willy DeVille album) (1987) by Willy DeVille, 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 The Princess Bride (film) movie.
* Land of Dreams (1988) by Randy Newman, includes the single "It's Money that Matters" which unabashedly revisits the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing".


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