John Illsley Recalls Sting’s Reaction To Dire Straits, ‘You Bastards’

The most unexpected collaborations tend to make the greatest hits and most beautiful memories for artists, especially when they happen in the right place at the right time. Dire Straits John Illsley sat down with Vintage Rock Podcast to share how the band and Sting crossed paths to organically work on ‘Money For Nothing,’ which became one of their songs that received heavy rotation on MTV.

“Sting turned up in; I think it was January,” began Illsley giving the back story of how they ended up in the same studio. “I think he’d already recorded with the Police at George Martin’s studio. So he’d fallen in love with Montserrat, and he was a great windsurfer, so he’d come down, actually, he was on holiday. We heard he was around, and he knew we were there, so he came up. We’d met him a few times before, and he came up to listen to some of the music one night and have supper with us at the studio.”

John Illsey continued, “He was listening to ‘Money For Nothing,’ and he just turned around to us and said, ‘You bastards. You’ve done it again.’ He said that’s fantastic, that’s going to go that one, so we thought, well, this the sage has spoken, so Mark said to him, ‘Well if you think you’re so good, why don’t you go and sing on it.’ So he walked into the studio, got in front of the microphone, and just what you hear is what he did.”

“You know, he just did his thing. We tidied it up a bit afterward. Still, it was a very spontaneous addition to the record and was completely unexpected,” shared the bassist. “We didn’t think he would be there, but there you are; that’s how these things happen in life.”

All the stars had lined up for them to work on the track that became a part of Dire Straits’ fifth studio album ‘Brothers in Arms.’ Besides the success of ‘Money For Nothing,’ the album spent 14 non-consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Albums Charts and nine weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 charts in the United States.