Mark Knopfler’s Reaction To David Knopfler’s Dire Straits Departure, John Illsley Recalls

Dire Straits’ John Illsley recently sat down with VintageRock Pod and talked about the first time David Knopfler left the band. When his feelings about the change in group dynamics was asked, he answered:

“It’s a sad thing but you know, dynamics in bands do change and it’s very rare for a band to start off as a four-piece and end as a four-piece. It was a very difficult time.”

Illsley went on to explain how he addressed this period in his autobiography, ‘My Life In Dire Straits,’ and the challenges of navigating the situation as a friend of both David Knopfler and Mark Knopfler:

“I dealt with it in the book the best way I could because I was very friendly with David and obviously, Mark was about my great mate. So it was very difficult to deal with that situation in many ways.”

He emphasised that the band didn’t have much choice but to make changes in order to progress, and he acknowledged the emotional impact it had on both himself and Mark:

“But in a sense, the band didn’t have any alternative. The only way that the band was going to move forward and do what it could really do, which we did, was unfortunately by David leaving. And it was a very sad day for me, a sad day for Mark as well that it didn’t work out. But you know, that’s life and sometimes it happens, these things.”

The Knopfler brothers, David and Mark, have also previously discussed their departures from Dire Straits. In an interview in July, David Knopfler mentioned how he worked his solo career out and how he reacted when he was still associated with Dire Straits:

“I established an independent space that was my own. But if you come to a territory where you’ve never played before, come to a country where you haven’t been for ever maybe, and they don’t necessarily know your solo material, then you’ve got to give them something so that they can reference you.

Because you will get members of the audience coming because of the surname and because they know about Dire Straits. Then, they know there was a guitarist in Dire Straits, but they won’t know anything about that. I’ve made twenty albums since.”

In a recent interview, Mark Knopfler was asked his thoughts about reunion, he strictly answered:

“Oh, I don’t know whether to start getting all that stuff back together again. I would only do that for a charity. I’m glad I’ve experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are.”

Mark also explained his disturbance about the point Dire Straits came before he took off to his solo career:

“[Dire Straits] just got too big. If anyone can tell me one good thing about fame, I’d be very interested to hear it.”

You can watch the interview below.