Dire Straits: Sultans of Swing

Musical genius MARK KNOPFLER was newly divorced and broke in 1977 and moved in with his younger brother David, their friend John Isley was also living there and all three had been playing in Pubs around London for a while. Trying to figure out a way to make some cash, Mark decided that forming a new band with these guys was the best idea.

They found drummer Pic Withers and started to rehearse. The line-up: Mark Knopfler (Lead Vocals and Lead Guitar), David Knopfler (Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals), John Illsley (Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals), and Pick Withers (Drums). Then came the age-old question, "What should we call it?"

One of their buds observing the boys financial situation suggested, "Dire Straits" and it stuck. They borrowed some cash to cut a demo tape and took it to BBC disc-jockey, Charlie Gillett, who had a radio show called "Honky Tonk," for his advice and there was one song on the tape that caught Charlie's fancy because it was so different from everything else that was going on musically: "Sultans of Swing."

Charlie started playing it on his show. The phones lit-up with fans asking who the band was. It didn't take long for the record folks to to pick up the buzz and sign them. They went into the Studio with Steve's brother Muff Winwood producing. The self-titled album was released in 1978 and "Sultans of Swing" was the first single out but it was slow to happen for them.

The Straits scored an opening spot for a Talking Heads tour and the single started to climb the U.K. charts raising to #8, this encouraged release of the album and single in the U.S. where the single went to #4 on The Hot 100, and drove the album to #2 on the Billboard album chart, Dire Straits were on their way to stardom.

AllMusic called it: "remarkably accomplished for a debut," praising Knopfler's "spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling" and his "inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album." Rolling Stone said the band: "plays tight, spare mixtures of rock, folk and country music with a serene spirit and witty irony" and ""Sultans of Swing" for its "inescapable hook" and "Bob Dylan-like snarl in its vocal."

We'll revisit Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler's solo career in the days to come, but first let's savor the great sound of "Sultans of Swing" again in pristine High Def video and 5.1 surround sound in Live Concert and already viewed over 100 million times. Rock On! @therealdonrocks

A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

#BestofFacebook #DonSundeen #DireStraits #80sPop #Legends