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Credit: Victor Sherfili

Music

Mark Knopfler revealed his favourite guitarist of all time

As with any legendary rock guitarist, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits drew inspiration from a vast acreage of the musical map. His style was most heavily influenced by his early fascination with rhythm and blues music of the 1950s and ‘60s. Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but his family moved to Blyth, England, when he was just seven years old. In the 1950s, Knopfler listened to Elvis Presley and became enamoured with guitarists like Chet Atkins and B.B King

Knopfler came from a musical background and was always impressed with his uncle Kingsley’s harmonica and boogie-woogie piano playing. While he was intrigued by numerous styles and instruments, it appeared that it was the guitar and the blues that really tickled his fancy. 

Throughout the 1960s, Knopfler played in several bands and emulated some of his favourite rhythm and blues musicians. His early claim to fame came in 1966 when he was invited to appear on a local television show to perform as one half of a harmony duo alongside his classmate Sue Hercombe. 

While he remained an active musician over the next ten years, he didn’t make his big career break until 1978, when his new band Dire Straits released their landmark eponymous debut album. 

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After seven years of soaring success with Dire Straits, Knopfler found himself playing in front of a packed-out audience at London’s Wembley Arena during the Brothers In Arms tour. During the performance, Knopfler decided to tribute to one of his guitar heroes by welcoming him to the stage for a jam. 

Knopfler explained that he begged his father for a Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster when he was a child. Unfortunately, they were particularly expensive models, so instead, his father bought him a £50 twin-pick-up Höfner Super Solid for his first axe in the early 1960s. 

At Wembley in 1985, Knopfler welcomed his hero to the stage, explaining, “All I wanted was a red electric guitar, and the only reason I wanted a red electric guitar was because of the sound made by one of my all-time favourite guitar players. And I still wish I could get a guitar to sound the way he gets it to sound. And he actually recorded this tune, so he knows it. So here he is, one of the all-time favourites, the man himself, Hank B. Marvin!”

The pair then proceeded to play ‘Going Home’, which was first released by Knopfler in 1983 for the soundtrack of Local Hero. The song was later covered by Hank Marvin and his band, The Shadows.

Stream the performance below.