The '60s, '70s and '80s are full of stories about bands that limped along for years, touring hard and testing their labels' patience before finally getting their big break. Given their low-key music and resolute lack of visual flash, the guys in Dire Straits seemed like good candidates for one of those slow-building careers -- and unlikely candidates for mainstream pop stardom.
Dire Straits came out of nowhere when their debut album was released in 1978. Really. They had formed only the year before and hadn't gigged much before they recorded a demo tape that caught the attention of record-company execs. They were an immediate hit, especially with rock radio, which
‘Sultans of Swing’ was both the first single from Dire Straits’ debut album and a revealing first-person account of the average working band’s hardscrabble, often thankless existence playing British pubs during the '70s. It’s only fitting, therefore, that Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler was inspired to write the tune in a pub, pint in hand, whilst watching just one such band calling themselves – you guessed it – the Sultans of Swing.
‘Sultans Of Swing’ was Dire Straits’ debut single. Let that sink in -- the fully-formed, blues-drenched tune was the first song many heard from the British act.
However, its appeal was evident long before it hit No. 4 on the Billboard singles chart in 1979, or our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list: A 1977 demo version of the song reportedly earned the band a record deal.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) announced that the eight-month ban on Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ has been lifted! The song was yanked from national playlists on radio stations in Canada in January after a listener complained about the usage of the word “faggot” when said listener heard the song on CHOZ-FM in Newfoundland.
Mark Knopfler is currently in the studio working on his next solo disc, although the album will not see the light of day until at least 2012. The former Dire Straits frontman also appears as a guest musician on a couple of recent releases.