Happy 40th: Dire Straits, DIRE STRAITS
40 years ago this week, Dire Straits released their self-titled debut album, kicking off a career that would eventually take them not only to the highest reaches of the charts but into the record books as well.
Dire Straits began as a musical collaboration between brothers Mark and David Knopfler and John Illsley, David’s roommate. When Mark moved into the flat where David and John were living, the threesome started playing together, and after converting drummer Pick Withers to the cause, they started a band, giving it a name that echoed their financial situation. It took a few months, but they eventually accumulated enough funds to record a five-song demo tape, and when BBC Radio disc jockey Charlie Gillett heard it, he fell for one of the songs and started playing it.
That song? “Sultans of Swing.”
Produced by Muff Winwood at London’s Basing Street Studios, DIRE STRAITS earned acclaim and airplay because of that aforementioned song, of course, but it also found success with its second single, “Down to the Waterline.” The album itself, meanwhile, was a smash as well, heading into the top 5 in both the US and the UK and earning platinum sales, which is pretty darned impressive for a debut album.
Dire Straits carried on with their career for the better part of two decades, with Mark Knopfler making the decision to call time on the band in 1998, but they left behind one heck of a musical legacy. More importantly, they never forgot the album on which they’d built their career: when they capped their career with a compilation of their most famous material, they called it SULTANS OF SWING: THE VERY BEST OF DIRE STRAITS.
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