The Untold Truth Of Dire Straits

Dire Straits was a British band that gained popularity in the late '70s. It was in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, who was the lead singer and guitarist. His brother, David Knopfler, was also a guitarist, and the two were joined by John Illsley on bass guitar and Pick Withers on drums. At that time, new wave, punk, and metal were the music genres popular with the masses, and the Dire Straits stood out with their rock and blues style. The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1978, and the song "Sultans of Swing" propelled them up the U.K.'s music charts (via Ultimate Classic Rock).

Despite their success in music, there were tensions behind the scenes, specifically between the Knopfler brothers. In an interview with Express, David revealed why he quit the band in the middle of working on their third album. "Mark and I had a different vision of what we were up to. I was building a democracy and Mark was making an autocracy," he said. In 1988, Mark announced the official breakup of the band and said that he wanted to work on personal projects. When interviewed about Dire Straits' breakup, Mark said, "It was more a big relief — the fun had gone out of it for me a long while before." Despite the announcement, Dire Straits released their sixth and final studio album titled "On Every Street" in 1991. Here are some interesting facts about the band.

Dire Straits' video was the first ever played on MTV Europe

Shortly after midnight on August 1, 1981, MTV debuted on televisions all across the United States. The very first music video aired on the channel was The Buggles' hit song "Video Killed the Radio Star." Six years later, on August 1, 1987, MTV Europe launched with Dire Straits' music video for the song "Money for Nothing," per U Discover Music. The song was co-written by Mark Knopfler, and it's about working-class men who see rockstars playing their guitar "on MTV."

The music video was directed by Steve Barron, and it featured CGI. Although the animation looks crude by today's standards, it was a hit back in the late '80s when the technology wasn't as popular as it is today. Dire Straits, particularly Knopfler, wasn't too keen on creating the video. "I never did hear a yes. Nor an OK. Or a let's go for it. But there wasn't a no. Or a never. Or anything that said we couldn't," Barron said, referring to Knopfler's reaction to the idea of creating an animated video, as reported by Garage. On the third ever MTV Video Music Awards in 1986, "Money for Nothing" was nominated in 11 categories and won the "Video of the Year" award.

Sting collaborated with Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler wanted to do a collaboration with Sting, and he did just that on the song "Money for Nothing." The Dire Straits and The Police knew each other from spending time together during gigs. The idea came to Knopfler when he saw The Police doing a promotion for MTV, wherein the members of the band said in unison, "I want my MTV." "If I set that to the notes of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' it'll work," Knopfler recalled thinking at that time, as reported by Ultimate Classic Rock. The rest of the Dire Straits agreed with the idea, and it just so happened that Sting was in the area.

Sting agreed to lend his voice, and he was credited as a co-writer of the song despite the intro for "Money for Nothing" being his only contribution. According to Song Facts, Sting didn't want to be credited, but his record company pushed for it, as the notes were too identical to "Don't Stand So Close to Me," which Sting wrote for The Police. Sting didn't only sing on the record; he also lent his voice when Dire Straits performed "Money for Nothing" at Live Aid in 1985 and sang "I want my MTV" over and over before the song began (via Dire Straits Blog).

Dire Straits' album was the first CD to sell a million copies

The compact disc, or CD, became popular in the early '80s. The first commercial CD player was released in Japan in 1982, and it eventually made its way to the United States. The new technology was coveted at that time, and music lovers paid as much as $1,000 for a CD player. Then, however, there were only about 20 albums available on CDs, as most were still released on cassette tapes and vinyl records, as reported by Digital Trends. A few years after the launch of the CD player, CDs became even more popular and for the first time ever, an album recorded on a compact disc sold more than its vinyl counterpart.

The Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" album was released on May 13, 1985. Dire Straits was an early adopter of the new technology, and Mark Knopfler insisted on recording their fifth studio album using what was then state-of-the-art digital technology. By the time the album was released, CD players had already been made more affordable. It then became the first CD album to sell a million copies. Per Knopfler, it happened because of right timing and not because it was planned, per Ultimate Classic Rock.

A dinosaur was named after Mark Knopfler

In 2001, scientists discovered a new dinosaur species, and they decided to name it Masiakasaurus knopfleri — after Dire Straits singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler. The group of scientists uncovered the remains of the dinosaur in Madagascar. Scott Sampson, one of the researchers from the University of Utah, explained that the dinosaur measured about 5 to 6 feet in length and roamed the Earth approximately 65 million to 70 million years ago. As for the name, he explained that it was a tribute to Dire Straits, whose music kept the research team company while they worked (via The Guardian).

The research team always made it a point to bring some music to entertain themselves on their fieldwork, and Dire Straits, as he said, was the most popular music among the team members. Not only that, it seemed that the band's music brought the research team good luck. "Whenever we took Mark's tapes with us we seemed to find great fossils and when he was not with us, we found nothing," Sampson explained. As reported by the The New York Times, Knopfler was flattered with the gesture and said, "I'm really delighted. The fact that it's a dinosaur, is certainly apt, but I'm happy to report that I'm not the least bit vicious."

Dire Straits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not all members attended

In 2018, long after the Dire Straits disbanded, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout its active years, the band went through different members — Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, Pick Withers, John Illsley, Guy Fletcher, and Alan Clark — and it was decided that all of them were significant to the band and would be inducted. The Knopfler brothers, however, decided not to attend the induction ceremony, as reported by Song Facts.

During the induction ceremony, all the other musicians inducted performed or had tributes to them. However, that wasn't the case for Dire Straits. Only three members were in attendance — Illsley, Clark, and Fletcher — and the band was also the first one inducted without being introduced by an induction speaker. Instead, Illsley took on the role and presented his own band (via Stereogum). Regarding the absence of Dire Straits' frontman, he said, "I know there's been a lot of speculation about the fact that Mark is not here, but I can assure you, it's just a personal thing. It's personal reasons, let's leave it at that." In an interview with Billboard, Illsley revealed that Mark just didn't feel like attending. "He just didn't feel like coming, it's as simple as that."