How Much Do.The Retail.Jobs Pay On Radao.Drive In.Hollywood Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler’s Fascination with Elvis Presley

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Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler’s Fascination with Elvis Presley

In a 1979 interview in “Guitar Player” magazine, Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler summed up his self-taught guitar style to Joel A. Siegel. “I got the basics from people like the Shadows, the Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Rick Nelson and Elvis… I loved playing American music.” Elvis Presley influenced many young musicians who came of age in the 1960s, even those across the Atlantic in England, and the work and persona of the King of Rock and Roll continues to fascinate Knopfler into the 21st century .

Knopfler’s first run-in with the king came when Phil Lynott (of Thin Lizzy fame) wrote a tune about Elvis’ death for his 1980 solo album “Solo in Soho”. The song, titled “King’s Call”, featured the same style of guitar playing found on Dire Straits’ first two albums. Knopfler is featured heavily in the song’s music video, clad in leather pants and wailing on his famous red Fender Stratocaster. In a 2001 interview for Vintage Guitar Magazine, Willie G. Moseley called the song “one of the best Elvis tribute songs ever recorded”, to which Knopfler replied “I really enjoyed hanging out with Phil. [His death] it was a real shame; he was a sweet guy.” Even as recently as 2006, the Austin Chronicle (a Texas alternative newspaper) praised the “neon licks” heard on the track.

In 1991, Dire Straits’ latest album “On Every Street” opened with a rock tune, “Calling Elvis”. The song was also used to open every concert during that particular 91-92 tour. Numerous references to song titles run through the lyrics, such as:

Oh love me tender

Baby, don’t be cruel

Return to sender

Treat me like a fool

Ironically, the song itself wasn’t inspired by Presley, but was actually inspired by a strange turn of phrase from a family member. During a radio interview on BBC 1, Knopfler explained: “My brother-in-law one day said that trying to call your sister was like trying to call Elvis. And that was it. That was it.”

In 2004, Knopfler continued to play tribute with a quiet song called “Back to Tupelo”. Perhaps more on Elvis’ infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker, tells the story of Elvis at a crossroads. In a promotional interview that year, Knopfler explains: “I suppose I gradually realized as a child that Elvis wanted to be a Hollywood star as well as a singer. I didn’t realize how bad it was. It surprised me to learn that there are today’s music managers who look up to their manager, Colonel Parker. And thousands of young people today want to be famous, often just to be famous, probably more than at any time in the past.”

There may be more song references and tributes in store as the years go by. Elvis may have left the building, but he certainly hasn’t left the creative mind of Mark Knopfler.

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