Dire Straits And Their Early Success 1980-1984

Dire Straits And Their Early Success 1980-1984

Dire Straits - Mark Knopfler, John Illsley, Terry Williams, Hal Lindes, Alan Clark.

In 1980 Dire Straits were nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “Sultans of Swing”.

In July 1980 – Dire Straits started to make recordings for the tracks of their third album Making Movies who was released in October 1980. But during the recording sessions tension between Mark and his brother David took its toll on the band, and because of that David decided to pursue a solo career.

The sessions continued with Sid McGinnis (on rhythm guitar) and keyboardist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen’s – E Street Band.

Sid McGinnis, Mark Knopfler and  John Illsley.

After the recording sessions, Alan Clark (keyboardist) and guitarist from California Hal Lindes joined to Dire Straits as members for the next tours in Europe and North America.

Making Movies received positive reviews and featured songs with more arrangements style which would continue for the rest of the band’s career. The album featured many of Mark Knopfler’s personal compositions. The most successful single was “Romeo and Juliet” – which was in number eight in the UK singles chart. That song is about a failed love affair.

Never released as a hit single, “Solid Rock” was featured in all Dire Straits live-shows from this point on for the remainder of their career. Song “Tunnel of Love” with intro of “The Carousel Walts” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II was featured in the film “An Officer and a Gentleman”.

Song reached the position 54 in the UK single chart when it was released as a single in 1981. It was one of the most famous and popular songs of Dire Straits, and immediately became a favorite at all concerts. Album Making Movies stayed in the UK Albums Chart for five years and peaking at number 4.

Making Movies – Album cover.

Love Over Gold was Dire Straits fourth studio album. It was released in September 1982 and album included amazing songs with lengthy, experimental passages that featured Alan Clark’s piano and keyboard work.

Album was going to be “GOLD” in America and spent four weeks at number one in United Kingdom. The title for the album was inspired by graffiti seen from the window of Knopfler’s old council flat in London. Phrase was taken from the sleeve of an album by Captain Beefheart.

Love Over Gold was the first Dire Straits album produced solely by Mark Knopfler, and the hit song on that album was “Private Investigations”. The song gave Dire Straits their first top five single in the United Kingodm, which reached the number two position – despite the song being almost seven-minute in length. That song became another very popular song in the live concerts and shows of Dire Straits.

“Industrial Disease” in other parts of the world was looking at the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980’s. Focusing on strikes, depression and dysfunctionality was the main single from the Love Over Gold album, and particularly in Canada became in a top ten hits.

Love Over Gold album included one more big song that was written by Knopfler, song was 14 minutes in length and is called “Telegraph Road”. Also written by Mark was the song “Private Dance” which did not appear on the album, but was given to Tina Turner for her comeback album of the same name.

Love Over Gold was sold in two million copies all around in the world, during the first six weeks after album was released. Shortly after Love Over Gold was released, drummer Pick Withers left the band. But his replacement was former Rockpile member – Terry Williams.


In 1983 a four-song EP titled ExtendeancEPlay was released while Love Over Gold was still in the album charts. Featured hit single “Twisting By the Pool” reached to the Top 20 in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Dire Straits on their eight-month-long world tour promoted their album Love Over Gold, which finished with two sold out concerts London’s Hammersmith Odeon on 22 and 23 July 1983. The double album Alchemy Live, was a recording of excerpts from these two concerts and was reportedly released without studio overdubs.

It was mixed in November 1983 and released in March 1984, reaching the Top 3 in the UK Albums Chart. Concert was also issued on VHS and was remastered & released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010.

During 1983/84 Mark was involved in other projects outside of the band. He wrote the music songs for the films Local Hero and Cal, which were also released as albums. During this time Mark produced Bob Dylan’s Infidels album where Alan Clark ex-member from Dire Straits played on keyboards. 1984 John Illsley released his first solo album – Never Told a Soul which Mark Knopfler, Alan Clark and Terry Williams contributed.


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