Now the sun’s gone to hell

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

August 12

Mark Knopfler I1949: Mark Knopfler is born in Glasgow, Scotland. Before he becomes frontman for Dire Straits in 1977, he gets a degree in English, works as a reporter and lecturer, and knocks around with various pub bands. Dire Straits’ first demos are done in three sessions during 1977, with Pick Withers as drummer, David Knopfler as rhythm guitarist, and John Illsley on bass guitar. On July 27, 1977 they record the 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 October they record Southbound Again, In The Gallery and Six Blade Knife for BBC Radio London—and, finally, in November, they make demo tapes of Setting Me Up, Eastbound Train, and Real Girl. Many of these songs reflect Mark’s experiences in Newcastle, Leeds, and London, and are featured on their first album,  Dire Straits, released in the following year.  On its initial release, Dire Straits receives little fanfare in the U.K., but when Sultans of Swing  is released as a single, it becomes a chart hit in The Netherlands and album sales take off—first across Europe, and then in the United States and Canada, and finally the U.K. The group’s second album, Communiqué, produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, follows in 1979, reaching number one in France while the first album is still at number three. Knopfler also makes a mark as a producer and a movie score composer. He is the producer of Bob Dylan’s 1983 LP Infidels.

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