Justin Hawkins Blames Mark Knopfler For Not Reaching Eric Clapton’s Success

Justin Hawkins has a fondness for Mark Knopfler‘s guitar playing, most notably as the lead guitarist for Dire Straits. However, in a recent chinwag with Pat Finnerty on the Justin Hawkins Rides Again YouTube channel, Hawkins shared an anecdote about a time when Knopfler’s performance didn’t quite meet his expectations.

Hawkins was quick to acknowledge Mark’s talents, yet he felt the guitar legend was underrated. According to Hawkins, Knopfler is his own biggest obstacle when it comes to recognition. He related a story from a charity concert where big names like Eric Clapton stepped up and put their guitar skills on full display. But when it was Mark Knopfler’s turn, Hawkins felt that he didn’t do enough to flaunt his guitar mastery.

The Darkness frontman explained that Knopfler indeed played well that day, but he wasn’t as flashy or ostentatious as the audience might have hoped. His understated performance left many, including Hawkins, wanting more. As it seems, he wanted to talk up Mark’s skills to his friends at school but soon found himself struggling to explain what he was really trying to show off to them.

Here is what Justin Hawkins said about Mark Knopfler:

“Of course, he is underrated. He’s done that to himself. I remember there was this thing, one of those charity [concerts,] all the guitarists get together, and they do a number. Brilliant. You’ve got Eric Clapton; he is getting up, and he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll do some blues flickery here, and I’ll do some fun stuff.’ Somebody else is stepping up, and they’re giving it all the things. I’m like, ‘Come on, Mark. Come on, boy, show them!’ He’s got his headband on, he comes out, and he’s like, ‘Okay.’ He does something like this [plays his guitar].

It’s exactly the right thing, but you don’t want him to do the right thing. You always want him to go, ‘It is I, Mark Knopfler, regard my headband and check out this technique,’ do something f*cking amazing, and show people that he’s the best. But he never did that. He always [does] deliberately understated stuff because nobody else was doing that in those instances when he had a chance to shine. He would always hold it back.”

He continued:

“Man, I respect the sh*t out of that, but at the time, I was frustrated. Because I want to go back to school the next day and say, ‘That was what I was talking about; did you see that?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, I saw that, but what were you talking about?’ I still didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Justin Hawkins holds a deep respect for Knopfler’s work, especially his iconic guitar riffs in the ‘Sultans Of Swing.’ Despite this admiration, he can’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment that Mark is often underrated, largely because he tends to hold back during those moments that present an opportunity for him to really shine.