The Reason Mark Knopfler Wanted Sting To Sing In Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’

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Mark Knopfler is a musician and record producer mostly known as the lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter of Dire Straits. He co-founded the band in 1977 with his younger brother David Knopfler. The band recorded six successful albums throughout their career and became regarded as the most prominent British rock band of the ’80s.

Following their 1987 self-titled debut album and its first single ‘Sultans Of Swing,’ Dire Straits released several more hit singles, including ‘Money For Nothing.’ Released in June 1985, the single has lyrics that reflect the point of view of two working-class men watching music videos and commenting on them.

The groundbreaking music video of the song was the first to be played on MTV in the U.K. Besides, the song also features a guest appearance by Sting. Sting collaborated with Dire Straits on the song ‘Money For Nothing’ by singing background vocals and providing the backing chorus of ‘I want my MTV.’ According to Mark Knopfler, there was a reason he wanted Sting to contribute to the song.

Mark Knopfler Thought Sting Would Be A Good Choice For ‘Money For Nothing’ After Seeing Him On An MTV Ad

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When Mark Knopfler was working on ‘Money For Nothing,’ he saw the famous ‘I Want My MTV’ campaign. In the ad, The Police members were saying this line, and according to the interview on Ultimate Classic Rock Nights, Knopfler thought it would be good to include Sting in the song.

As reported by Ultimate Classic Rock, Mark Knopfler told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show about his thought process. He said that he decided to set ‘I want my MTV’ to the notes of ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ when he saw the Police doing an MTV ad.

Knopfler then recalled saying he would like to get Sting for this job to his bandmates as he would be the perfect voice for the song. After that, the musician stated he used the five notes from ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ for that part, which worked out quite well.

Knopfler told Ultimate Classic Rock Nights that:

“I’d seen the Police doing an MTV advert, saying ‘I want my MTV,’ just saying it all together, and I thought, ‘If I set that to the notes of ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ it’ll work. I remember saying to the guys, ‘I’d really like to get Sting to do this.’ We knew them anyway because we’d done a lot of gigs together in Germany. One of them said, ‘That’s fine because he’s here on holiday.’

And because I’d used the five notes from ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me,’ that’s how the co-writing thing happened. Which is fine; it’s absolutely fine with me, and it worked out well. I remember quite clearly Sting coming into the studio and saying, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Nobody’s fighting!'”

Following the release, ‘Money For Nothing’ became a huge hit. The song was Dire Straits’ most commercially successful single which topped the charts for a long time. Besides, Dire Straits and Sting’s performance of the song at Live Aid won Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With A Vocal at the 28th Annual Grammy Awards in 1986. Despite all those achievements, awards, and nominations, Sting once stated that he didn’t expect the song to reach such success.

Sting didn’t think that ‘Money For Nothing’ would become a hit, and he thought the song was just okay. Following that, he implied later that he was surprised when it became the biggest hit of that year. The musician then said he was very proud of the song’s success, but it’s just a result of being in the right place at the right time.

Below, you can check out Dire Straits and Sting’s ‘Money For Nothing’ performance at Live Aid 1985.