Money for something: Dire Straits in demand as ‘huge amounts offered’ for reunion

Rock band are regular source of reform hopes – but it seems like it might never happen

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 04 November 2023 15:23 GMT
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Dire Straits performs at Live Aid in London

Dire Straits star John Illsley has left fans excited by the idea of a reunion following an interview about the rock band’s success.

The bass guitarist has revealed that the “Sultans of Swing” group, who disbanded in 1995, receive regular offers of money for – not nothing – for a comeback to capitalise on their success as one of the biggest rock bands of the 1980s.

Ilsley was a member of Dire Straits alongside guitarist brothers Mark and David Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers. Alongside lead vocalist Mark, he was one of two constants during the band’s time together between 1977 and 1995, including a two-year split in the late Eighties.

With many of their peers either staying together or reuniting for new projects, many wonder why Dire Straits never decided to reform – and it seems like they never will.

In a new interview ahead of the release of a live box-set compilation, Illsley said that, during catch-up meals he has with the band’s former manager, Paul Crockford, he hears that Dire Straits are still in demand.

However, he hints that Crockford is not inspired by the idea, telling The Telegraph: “Every time we have lunch [he] says to me, ‘I wish people would stop offering me huge amounts of money to put [Dire Straits] back together.’”

Reflecting on the band’s split, Illsley said he was “pretty happy” when he realised “things were coming to an end” due to feeling “mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted”.

He told the outlet: “Most of our marriages were falling apart, we weren’t seeing our children very much – it was all wrong. It’s the usual things that can happen to people in bands.”

However, he was soon left wondering whether it had been a wise plan to “stop a machine like the Dire Straits things” as it left “a massive vacuum”.

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“You ask yourself if it was a good idea,” he continued. “And I had to keep telling myself that it was a good idea. Because you’re doing something else, completely different – I was in London studying painting, I got some lessons, made a terrible mess for seven or eight years, and then started doing art shows. I thought, ‘OK, this is fun’. And I stopped playing music for quite a while. I leant the bass against the wall and said ‘Thank you very much but I’m doing something different now’.”

John Illsley and Mark Knopfler playing a Dire Straits gig in 1979

In 2008, Illsley told BBC News he had mooted the idea of reforming the band with Knopfler, who told him: “Oh, I don’t know whether to start getting all that stuff back together again.”

Knopfler himself said years later he’d only consider getting the band back together if it was for charity, stating: “I’m glad I’ve experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are.” He has released a total of nine solo albums and wrote the soundtrack for nine films.

Dire Straits released six albums in total, and are best known for the songs “Walk of Life”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Money for Nothing” and “Brothers in Arms”.

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