Mark Knopfler Talks Abut How He “Fooled” Their Fans
via Brian Johnson TV / Youtube
Mark Knopfler rose to prominence as one of the most renowned guitarists in rock music, with his former band, Dire Straits, playing a significant role in building his reputation.
Not only did he excel as the lead guitarist, but he also occasionally assumed singing and songwriting responsibilities within the band. Knopfler’s initial tenure with Dire Straits extended until 1988, marking the inception of his solo career.
But in an interview a few years after their breakup, the rock frontman surprised many fans and fellow musicians alike with a candid admission: he doesn’t take his singing too seriously.
“Well, I can’t sing. I just get up there and mumble. But I’m glad people like it. I’ll keep fooling them as long as I can,” Knopfler jokingly admitted during a 1992 telephone interview.
Mark Knopfler loves a joke or two
In the Dire Straits leader’s opinion, maintaining a sense of humor is one of the most crucial aspects of having a band. “If you don’t have a sense of humor, you might as well pack it in and go home” he added.
Knopfler wasn’t referring solely to jokes and light-hearted pranks with his bandmates but rather to the ability to perceive the lighter side of any situation and maintain equilibrium.
“I think I’d rather work as a gravedigger than with someone who takes everything too seriously,” he emphasized.
Just like when it comes to his own singing, which Knopfler doesn’t approach with that much seriousness. Still, the frontman expressed his gratitude that his fans appreciate his mumblings and that he’ll keep pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes as long as he can.
“Having good chops definitely helps, but…”
In a different interview in 2019 with Guitar, Knopfler discussed his “solo voice” and remarked that when he’s recording, he does not “really know how it comes about”.
The Dire Straits frontman said, “When I’m working on a solo, I don’t really know how it comes about. I think not being able to sing means the guitar becomes like a voice and you make it do things that you wouldn’t do otherwise. Perhaps if you can’t sing, you push a little harder with your instrument, but I’ve never really thought about that.”
Knopfler commented that although there are numerous guitarists and musicians who possess remarkable technical skills, the label ‘musician’ is but a complex one. He reiterated that “there’s a lot more to it than just technique.”
He named “Brown Eyed Girl” singer Van Morrison as someone who ”has great facility with his voice”, and also a proficiency on piano or guitar that may not be on the same level but the singer still achieved greatness. “Having good chops definitely helps, but it’s not the whole story,” Knopfler concluded.
“I can’t think of anything good about fame”
Knopfler’s Dire Straits headlined the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in 1988 at Wembley Stadium, sharing the stage with Elton John and Eric Clapton.
Nevertheless, just a few months later, Knopfler officially declared the disbandment of Dire Straits, taking a hiatus and subsequently founding the Notting Hillbillies in 1989.
Three years later, in 1991, Dire Straits regrouped and released their album On Every Street, which achieved commercial success despite of mixed reviews. Their ensuing 300-date world tour marked their final one.
In more recent discussions, Knopfler gave some more light to the breakup, voicing his discomfort with the immense fame the band attained, the pressures of which weighed heavily on him. “Well, I can’t think of anything good about fame, can you?” the frontman remarked.
Dire Straits might get back together on one condition
In the face of persistent fan anticipation and ongoing rumors of a reunion, Knopfler has remained resolute in his opposition to reuniting Dire Straits. He has been quoted as stating that it “just got too big“.
While former bassist John Illsley has expressed interest in a reunion, Knopfler has alluded to a single potential condition for such an occurrence: a charitable event.
“I would only do that for a charity. I’m glad I’ve experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are,” Knopfler expressed.
Knopfler’s post-Dire Straits solo career has been notably prolific, with nine studio albums to his name. In 2018, his album Down the Road Wherever sparked speculation that it might be his final tour. However, Knopfler reassured his fans by indicating his intention to continue performing live, even though no forthcoming events have been scheduled at this time.