Dire Straits: Brothers, Innovators, and Signature Sound-Makers

Two Brothers, a Harmonica, and Some Inspiration

Brothers Mark and David Knopfler (Mark is three years older) were born in Glasgow, Scotland. When Mark was seven years old, the family moved to their mother’s hometown of Blyth in North East England. The boys were originally inspired by their uncle Kingsley’s harmonica playing and his boogie-woogie piano style.


John Illsley, David Knopfler, and Mark Knopfler – Dire Straits. Photo By Fraser Gray/Shutterstock

Mark both formed his own and joined several other bands during the ‘60s. He would listen to singers like Elvis Presley and guitarists like Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, B.B King, Django Reinhardt, Hank Marvin, and James Burton. At 16, he made a local TV appearance as part of his very own harmony duo, with a classmate of his named Sue Hercombe. By 1973, Mark was in London and had joined a local rock band called Brewers Droop. His bandmate was future Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers.