Their career spanned a combined total of 15 years. They originally split up in 1988, but reformed in 1991, and disbanded for good in 1995 when Mark Knopfler launched his career full-time as a solo artist.
There were several changes in personnel over both periods, leaving Mark Knopfler and John Illsley as the only two original bandmates who had remained throughout the band’s career.
After disbanding Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler started his career as a solo artist, releasing his first solo album Golden Heart in March 1996 after nearly 20 years of collaborations.
Brothers in Arms was certified nine times platinum in the US in August 1996. During that year, the entire Dire Straits catalogue was remastered by Bob Ludwig and re-released on CD on Mercury Records, in most of the world outside the United States. The remasters were released in September 2000 in the United States, on Warner Bros.
Knopfler, John Illsley, Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher reunited for one last time on 19 June 1999, with Ed Bicknell on drums, playing five songs including a performance of Chuck Berry’s “Nadine” for Illsley’s wedding.
In 2002, Mark Knopfler was joined by John Illsley, Guy Fletcher, Danny Cummings and Chris White for four charity concerts. Brendan Croker joined Knopfler during the first half, playing mainly material composed with The Notting Hillbillies.
Illsley came on for a Dire Straits session, toward the end of which, at a Shepherd’s Bush concert, Jimmy Nail came on to provide backing vocals for Knopfler’s solo composition, “Why Aye Man”.
The most recent compilation, The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations, was released in November 2005 and reached the UK Top 20. Featuring material from the majority of Dire Straits’ studio albums as well as Mark Knopfler’s solo and soundtrack material, it was released in two editions, a single CD with grey cover and a double CD in blue cover.
The only previously unreleased track on the album, All The Roadrunning, is a duet with singer Emmylou Harris. The album was well received. Also in 2005 Brothers in Arms was re-released in a limited 20th anniversary edition, which was a success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album at the 48th Grammy Awards ceremony.
Since the break-up of Dire Straits Mark Knopfler has shown no interest in reforming the band and is quoted as saying “Oh, I don’t know whether to start getting all that stuff back together again,” and telling reporters that “I would only do that for a charity.
I’m glad I’ve experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are.” However, keyboardist Guy Fletcher has been associated with almost every piece of Knopfler’s solo material to date, and Danny Cummings has frequently contributed, notably to three of Knopfler’s most recent solo album releases All the Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris), Kill to Get Crimson and Get Lucky.
In 2007, Knopfler said he did not miss the global fame that came his way at the height of the band’s success, explaining that “It just got too big.” In October 2008, John Illsley told the BBC that he wanted Knopfler to agree to reform Dire Straits for a comeback tour.
Knopfler declined, saying that in the past he was often reluctant to reform the group and insisting that he “isn’t even a fan of Dire Straits’ early hits.”In the same interview, Illsley also suggested that Knopfler is enjoying his continued success as a solo artist, saying that “He’s doing incredibly well as a solo artist, so hats off to him. He’s having a perfectly good time doing what he’s doing.”
In December 2009, the band was commemorated with a Heritage Award from PRS for Music. A plaque was placed on a block of flats in Deptford, London, the location where Dire Straits played their first gig.
In 2011, Alan Clark, Chris White, and Phil Palmer, along with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ drummer Steve Ferrone, put together a band called “The Straits”, to perform at a charity show at the Albert Hall.
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