The singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland back in 1949 and started his musical career in 1965. But it was only 12 years later that he achieved success after the creation of Dire Straits. Their self-titled debut album released in 1978 became an international hit especially because of the track “Sultans of Swing”, which reached at the time the fourth position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The group grew bigger and bigger throughout the 80s until hitting their peak with the classic album “Brothers In Arms” released in 1985. Their final record “On Every Street” was released in 1991 and the group came to an end in 1995. But, they still are one of the best-selling bands of all time, with an estimated amount of more than 120 million records sold worldwide.
After that successful career with Dire Straits, Knopfler focused on his solo career and had released many records. Over the decades, the musician talked about many of his peers and even mentioned one guitarist as being one of the best that he ever heard.
The guitarist Mark Knopfler said was one of the best he ever heard
Back in the 80s, the music business was huge and countless groups from all music genres were playing in sold stadiums. There was a huge market for the bands that could give the fans the best music that connected with them. So it was a decade where there were plenty of artists from everywhere reaching new audiences.
During those years, Dire Straits had many hits like “Romeo and Juliet”, “Telegraph Road”, “Telegraph Road”, “So Far Away”, “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life” and “Brothers in Arms”. They were certainly one of the biggest Rock and Roll bands of that era and there were new artists appearing. One of them was the late legendary American guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, which Mark Knopfler said was one of the best he ever heard.
By the time Vaughan released his debut album “Texas Flood” in 1983, Dire Straits already had three records out. So Knopfler had the chance to see Stevie’s evolution over the years. Vaughan was even Dire Straits’ opening act back in the mid-80s.
The career of the American musician was tragically cut short at the age of 35 after a helicopter crash in 1990. In an interview for the TV special “A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan – An Up Close Extra”, Knopfler praised him.
“He was one of the best ever. You know, he was really, really tremendous, especially later on. You know, I thought that uhm…something was happening where the Hendrix and Buddy Guy influences were giving way to some real powerful stuff. He’s one of the best I’ve ever heard, no question,” Mark Knopfler said.
Knopfler loved the Blues and was influenced by the music genre
As can be heard in his playing, Mark Knopfler was influeced by the Blues and he discovered the music genre at the age of 16. He recalled that inspiration in an interview with Guitar Player magazine in 1979. He mentioned as influences the guitarists B.B. King, Blind Willie McTell, Lonnie Johnson and Blind Blake.
“I’ve got R&B in me. I got into the Chicago blues and B.B. King when I was 16. I think I could call Lonnie Johnson an influence, in some ways. And the last time I heard B.B. King was on the record ‘Live At The Regal’. That struck me as being a really terrific thing. But I never sat down with a record player and tried to play things note-for-note. Instead, it was always more of absorbing something of the spirit of the music.”
“(…) I was into playing American music, especially the blues. First, I learned how to fingerpick – just the basic stuff . Then I began developing a clawhammer style. And all during this time I was playing my solidbody without an amp of my own. While I was into many different types of music, and played with many different local groups, I really didn’t have a band to call my own until Dire Straits was formed in 1977,” Mark Knopfler said.
Since Dire Straits came to an end in 1995, Mark Knopfler released 9 studio albums. The most recent one is “Down The Road Wherever” that was released in 2018. He also made many soundtrack albums and collaborated with artists like Chet Atkins and Emmylou Harris.