Dire Straits: how “Sultans of Swing”, the band’s anthem, came about
PODCAST – In this new episode of “Pop Rock Collection“, Carole Vega tells us the story of the track without which Dire Straits would not have known the same career.
We are somewhere in 1977.the English band Dire straits makes a demo.it will become Sultans of Swing.that year, Mark Knopfler is 27 years old.he gave up journalism and his status as an English teacher to devote himself entirely to music.this Scottish man lives in the south of London in an apartment with his brother David Knopfler (also a guitarist) and John Illsley, the bassist.Pick Withers the drummer will join them a little later.
A friend suggested Dire Straits as the name of the band because that’s exactly what they are: “In the dick”. They literally have no money. But the quartet managed to raise the $120 needed to record a five-track demo. And on top of that, there’s Sultans of Swing.
The title was inspired by Mark Knopfler after seeing a band that really existed, a jazz band that made do with the means at hand, that is to say not much. And when the leader says “we are the sultans of swing”, he laughs, because “sultan” doesn’t look like one.
The title launches their legend
Once the demo was in their pocket, the band sent it to a friend to find out what needed to be improved, but the friend passed it on to Charlie Gillet, host of the Honky Tonk radio show on BBC Radio London. Charlie liked the song so much that he played it several times every night… And he wasn’t the only one to like it. Several record companies contacted the radio, and Dire Straits signed with Phonogram for five albums.