Dire Straits were a British rock band formed by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), his younger brother David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). The group split in 1995 when Mark Knopfler started his career as a solo artist.
Dire Straits became one of the world's most commercially successful bands, and sold over 120 million albums worldwide. The band's biggest selling album, Brothers in Arms, has sold over 30 million copies. They won numerous music awards during their career, including four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards. Dire Straits' most popular songs include "Sultans of Swing", "Romeo and Juliet", "Tunnel of Love", "Private Investigations", "Money for Nothing", "Walk of Life", "So Far Away" and "Brothers in Arms".
Their fifth studio album, Brothers in Arms, entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and spent a total of 228 weeks in the charts. It went on to become the best-selling album of 1985 in the UK. Brothers in Arms was similarly successful in the US, peaking at No. 1 on Billboard 200 for nine weeks, going multi-platinum, selling nine million copies. The album featured a more lavish production and overall sound than Dire Straits' earlier work, and spawned several big chart singles: "Money for Nothing", which reached number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 in the UK Singles Chart, "So Far Away", "Brothers In Arms", "Walk of Life", and "Your Latest Trick". "Money for Nothing" was the first video ever to be played on MTV in Britain. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 28th Grammy Awards in February 1986.
Brothers in Arms was among the first albums recorded on digital equipment due to Knopfler pushing for improved sound quality. The album's title track is reported to be the world's first CD single. It was issued in the UK as a promotional item distinguished with a logo for the tour, Live in '85, while a second to commemorate the Australian leg of the tour marked Live in '86. Containing just four tracks, it had a very limited run. "Walk of Life" meanwhile was nearly excluded from the album when co-producer Neil Dorfsman voted against its inclusion, but the band members out-voted him. The result was Dire Straits' most commercially successful hit single in the UK, peaking at number two. "Money for Nothing", "Walk of Life", and "Brothers in Arms" immediately became live concert favourites.
The album is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first compact disc to sell a million copies, and has been credited with helping to popularise the CD format. The Brothers in Arms CD featured the full version of the "Money for Nothing" cut, rather than the version that appears on the LP. In fact, the CD includes extended versions of all tracks featured on the first side of the original LP, with the exception of "Walk of Life".
In 2002, Mark Knopfler was joined by John Illsley, Guy Fletcher, Danny Cummings and Chris White for four charity concerts.
The most recent compilation, The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations, was released in November 2005 and reached the UK Top 20. It features material from the majority of Dire Straits' studio albums as well as Mark Knopfler's solo and soundtrack material. 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.
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.