Dire Straits’ Guy Fletcher Recalls How Yugoslav Authorities Impounded Mark Knopfler’s Digital Synthesizer


Dire Straits keyboardist Guy Fletcher has spoken to Variety in an interview and remembered the time when Yugoslav authorities took Mark Knopfler‘s synthesizer away.

The Synclavier is a music workstation and an early form of digital synthesizer. It is not only a synthesizer but also one of the first high-quality samplers. That means it generates sounds from previously recorded waveforms of real instruments, sounds, or noises. Due to the high price of the system, big studios or top-selling artists used the Synclavier mostly.

Synthesizers always played a big role for Dire Straits. It is no doubt that Mark Knopfler was keen on using technology while creating Dire Straits’ sound, especially using the Synclavier. Knopfler had a particular sound using the Synclavier guitar, and he has paid around $300,000 for his Synclavier.

In an interview by Variety, Guy Fletcher has remembered the time when the band got into trouble because of their synthesizer. The incident happened probably during their tour for ‘Brothers In Arms’ which started from Yugoslavia back in 1985. Fletcher recalled that they took their Synclavier on the road with them, and then Yugoslav authorities impounded the machine. He noted that their reason to do that was thinking it contained American missile technology.

Guy Fletcher also commented on ‘The Princess Bride’ score by Mark Knopfler for which he used the Synclavier. He said that using the Synclavier for the film was a familiar thing in producing scores these days. Fletcher then said the samples they used were really basic, and he imported the sample library from the Emulator to bolster the orchestral palette.

Speaking about their decision to take their synthesizer on the road, Fletcher said:

We must have been mad, but we did.”

He then considered using the Synclavier for the film as:

“It wasn’t dissimilar to the way that scores are written these days, except that the samples were very basic.”

Dire Straits used the Synclavier on the albums ‘Love Over Gold,’ ‘Brothers In Arms,’ and ‘On Every Street.‘ Mark Knopfler has also used the Synclavier on the scores for the films The Princess Bride in 1987 and Last Exit To Brooklyn in 1989. In both of the scores, all sounds except guitar and violin were produced by the Synclavier.