Mark Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but was raised in Newcastle, England. His parents were working class, of modest means, so it was a stretch when Mark asked them for an electric guitar as a present when he was a boy. Mark was overjoyed to get his first guitar, however he did not know that he needed an amplifier to properly play it. Initially then, Mark had to play it with no power, until one day when he got the idea to rewire a radio so he could plug the guitar into it as an amp. It worked, briefly… Mark Knopfler once commented on the radio/amp as pumping out “1.5 watts of sheer power!” The radio blew up shortly thereafter.
However, this experience was enough to get Mark hooked on guitars for life. Later as a teen he came upon a guitar that had a warped neck, and consequently did not sound right when played with a pick. The only way Mark could get it to sound right was by playing with only his fingers, a technique known as finger picking. This as he later recalled was when he developed his “sound” that would later become so well known in the songs of Dire Straits, such as Sultans of Swing, Brothers in Arms, Telegraph Road, Romeo and Juliet, and so many more.
Dire Straits first album, also titled Dire Straits was released in 1978 in Britain, with little fanfare on the charts. However, once the album burst onto the scene in the U.S., Dire Straits found itself rocketing to the top of the charts. It was one this first album that one of the bands most well known singles, Sultans of Swing would cement itself into the rock music lexicon. The entire album is a brilliant set of work from the (at the time) four piece band. Mark Knopfler with his shiny red Fender Stratocaster was now an international sensation.
Stay tuned for part two…