Today in 1979, “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits was re-released and became a huge global hit, still loved by music fans today. Its original 1977 demo earned Dire Straits their first contract with Phonogram Records, it was re-recorded for their first studio album release and charted for the first time in May of 1978. It was the re-issue that set the band on the road to stardom.
Mark Knopfler has since earned a worldwide critical and commercial reputation, with “Brothers in Arms” the landmark album which launched the CDs era and sold over 30million copies, being 9 times platinum in the USA and 10 times platinum in the UK.
Mark has moved further into Country genres, recording with Emmylou Harris, including tracks written by Kimmie Rhodes.
“Sultans of Swing” was composed by Mark Knopfler on a National Steel guitar in open tuning. He thought the song was “dull” until he bought his first Stratocaster in 1977.
“It just came alive as soon as I played it on that ’61 Stratocaster. The new chord changes just presented themselves and fell into place,” he said.
The lyrics were inspired by a performance of a jazz band playing in the corner of an almost empty pub in Deptford, South London, UK. At the end of their performance, the lead singer announced their name, the Sultans of Swing. Knopfler found the contrast between the group’s dowdy appearance and surroundings and their grandiose name amusing.