Dire Straits’ John Illsley Confirms Mark Knopfler No-Show at Rock Hall Ceremony
In a new interview, the bassist said that Knopfler "just didn't feel like coming, it's as simple as that." But it wasn't for a lack of trying on Illsley's part.
"It just didn't appeal to him, and I appealed to him on several occasions," he told Billboard. "I said, 'Look, I'd love you to get your head around this.' He said, 'Look, I just can't do it, John. I'm really sorry. It's a great honor for us and all the rest of it, and I just can't get my head around it,' so I've just got to respect it. He's got his reasons, which he really doesn't want to share with me which is unusual because we've shared most things over the years."
As a result, Illsley said the three ex-members who will attend the induction ceremony -- himself and keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher -- will not perform there. Last week, Clark posted on his blog that the trio would play an unplugged version of the band's Love Over Gold epic "Telegraph Road," but Illsley explained "that's Alan having a bit of fun." "I was hoping people weren't going to take it too seriously," he said. "I wouldn't perform without Mark there, so it's as simple as that, really. If Mark's not there, there's no point."
Illsley said that a performance by the band "would've been quite complicated. When you look at the structure of the band over the last 40 years, it's been quite a mixed bag of musicians and people involved, and just trying to sort that out and make sense of it. ... [Knopfler] said, 'Look, I just can't deal with it. I don't really want to deal with it.' So I said, 'Okay, I'll go over, accept the award on your behalf and all the rest of the guys that aren't there, and that'll be it. So that's what's happening."
But Illsley, the only other member of Dire Straits to appear on every album and the co-owner of the band's name with Knopfler, noted he was "excited" and "proud" to be honored. "I think it's fantastic for the band," he said. "I think it's fantastic for all the musicians who have worked with us over the years, who have been part of the journey ... and all the producers and engineers we worked with over the years. And I think it's wonderful for all the people who bought the music and came to see the concerts and stuck with the band all these years. That to me is the most important side of it, so that's what I would like to acknowledge when I get there is the fans. They make everything happen."