Why Dire Straits broke up and never reunited

British Rockers, Dire Straits was formed in 1977 by the Knopfler brothers, Mark Knopfler (Vocals and guitar) and David Knopfler (Guitar). Later the group was joined by Illsley (Bass) and Pick Withers (Drums).

Their debut album “Dire Straits” was a great success, and they were already in the mainstream by the 80s. With the release of bangers such as “So Far Away”, “Money For Nothing”,  “Sultans of Swing” and “Walk of Life”, they were making great success, but their success was only for a limited time.

In 1988, the group stopped releasing music or doing any tours. In 1995, they finally announced that the group was getting disbanded and they never reunited again. So. what happened in that period?

Why did Dire Straits break up and never reunite again?

Artist "Dire Straits". All albums to buy or stream. | HIGHRESAUDIO

According to Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits was disbanded because of the band’s unforeseen challenges. Throughout the band’s career, Mark Knopfler and John Illsley were the only members who took part in every album and line-up of the band.

Their original drummer, Pick Withers left the band in 1982 after the release of “Love Over Gold” and David Knopfler had already left the band when they released their first two albums, in 1980.

“I left because it was no longer possible for Mark and I to work in the same band. We’d be walking around in the studio with eyes averted to the floor. We no longer had a communicating relationship,” David said.

That’s when the pressure started to begin. Dire Straits began to recruit many members and even hired touring musicians. After some years of hardships, Mark Knopfler finally announced that they would pause the band’s activities for a few years in 1988.

After “Brothers In Arms” became a great success, they were officially one of the biggest bands in the world. They needed some time to rest and after two years, they finally announced their return and released their final album “On Every Street” in 1990.

They were finally ready to ride the roller coaster again. During their final tour, they did about 300 shows and players for 7 million people. Their final tour was a great success but they were totally stressed out and burnt out.

Knopfler decided to put everything to an end because the band had become highly successful and they didn’t have time to focus on their normal lives. “I put the thing to bed because I wanted to get back to some kind of reality. It’s self-protection, a survival thing,” he told the Telegraph in 2012.

The tour was “dehumanizing” for Dire Straits

During the same interview, Mark Knopfler added that the band and yours were degrading them.“That kind of scale is dehumanizing. I always enjoy talking with the truck drivers because they are independent-minded, interesting people. I remember going into catering on the last Straits tour and not recognizing the drivers, and I just knew then that it wasn’t right,” he said.

Mark also added that he wasn’t prepared to have such peak success. “I’ve always worked since I was 14, different jobs, building sites, factory, warehousing, farming, a lot of manual work, and then journalism and teaching. They’re all good experiences for a young guy, I think, it gives you sympathy for other people’s lives, but nothing prepares you for this.”

Sudden fame and glory were a hard thing for Mark to come up with. He also said that he felt relieved to survive all those hard years. “I feel lucky to have got through it. (Also) lucky not to be going through it anymore,” Mark Knopfler said.

Even Illsley explained that the band was invading their personal life to The Telegraph in 2023.  “I sort of knew that things were coming to an end. And I was pretty happy about that because we were exhausted.”

“We were exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. Most of our marriages were falling apart, we weren’t seeing our children very much – it was all wrong, basically. It’s the usual things that can happen to people in bands.”

He added, But when you stop a machine like the Dire Straits thing, there’s a massive vacuum. There’s a massive vacuum. And you ask yourself if it was a good idea. And I had to keep telling myself that it was a good idea.”

“Because you’re doing something else, completely different – I was in London studying painting, I got some lessons, made a terrible mess for seven or eight years, and then started doing art shows. I thought, ‘Okay, this is fun’. And I stopped playing music for quite a while. I leaned the bass against the wall and said ‘Thank you very much but I’m doing something different now’.”

Dire Straits were offered ‘Huge Amounts Of Money’ to Reunite

John Illsey also stated that whenever he used to catch up with his manager Paul Crockford, he would tell him that there was a huge amount of cash being offered for the band if they chose to reunite.

“Every time we have lunch, [he] says to me, ‘I wish people would stop offering me huge amounts of money to put [Dire Straits] back together.’” The reunite never happened but the connection between Mark and Hogn was healthy.

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