The secret at the heart of Dire Straits revealed.

In 1975, a chance meeting between  (penniless poet/lyricist Robert Marshal) and bass player John Illsley in a coffee bar in the West End of London led directly to the creation of a band who became one of the most successful acts of the 1980’s. His story has never been told until now.

Back then, Dire Straits wasn’t a band, it was the state of both the UK and also of , an Edinburgh lyricist and poet, hopeful for success in the music industry. He had ideas, good lyrics, and a wealth of street aptitude, and had been mixing with well known musicians in London for several years, looking for a break.

Illsley was aspiring to be a musician and invited Marshal back to a house in Deptford as he had promised him some incredible lyrics. Shortly after they arrived, Mark Knopfler ( introducing himself as Dirk)walked in and he and Marshal spent the next 10 hours thrashing out songs on an old bass with two strings. They took turns  strumming the bass and chanting Marshal’s  lyrics in a rhythmic fashion, Marshal being no musician but a talented wordsmith rapped of the hooks as  Knopfler scribbled down the words in shorthand as one after another story that would become songs were  reeled them off. These words eventually formed the debut Dire Straits album (including Sultans of Swing) and most of the Brothers in Arms album including “Money for Nothing” which Knopfler recorded on a tape machine just as he was about to leave.

These lyrics were crafted on the spot during one mammoth session and are based upon Marshal’s extensive  experiences of London, where he worked as a barrow-boy in Berwick Street, a bus driver on the number 19 bus, and was squatting in a house in Bow when he met Knopfler. He showed his mastery  at writing lyrics by mixing  in that days experience of his meeting with Illsley and Knopfler, a chance meeting that became (“Wild West End”). He gave the stunned Knopfler a songwriting masterclass, a mentoring session and before he  left, gave the band to be the name “Dire Straits” before disappearing into the night. As he left, John Illsley had just about time to scribble down his name and the words “Straightjacket Music” for any share of  monies should the band be formed and have any  success. He believed the lyrics he had written could only have filled a good sixteen song L.P, and told Knopfler and Illsley not to use Money for Nothing. Of course they did and though it became one of the greatest hits, with Knopfler trying to inveigle Sting to take the credit for writing the lyrics with him it didn’t happen…  but Marshal never received the credit for writing the lyric or any share in the money it made, however British Grove Studios was built on the capital from Straitjacket Music.

Though Marshall has spoken to both Mark Knopfler and John Illsley, they have yet to make public his part in Dire Straits, and since there has been no denial from them or Libel suits its obvious he is telling the truth.

The Law on Admission States.

An admission may be express, such as written or verbal statement, by a Person concerning the truth, or it may be implied by a Persons conduct. If  someone fails to deny assertions which, if false, would be denied by any reasonable Person, such failure indicates that the Person has accepted the truth of the allegations.

Today, Marshal still writes lyrics,  poetry, plays, novels and radio stories under a variety of pseudonyms, but he still has hope that one day, Knopfler and Illsley will acknowledge what he has done for them make amends.

Pick Withers The British Band All Stars









David Pick Withers [ Dire Straits ] Zoot Money, Dave Kelly, Peter Emery, Gary Fletcher, All Stars made the line up for a night of Blues Music that ONLY MASTERS OF THEIR TRADE CAN GIVE.

Each of the band gave us the audience a chance to hear music that even the buildings poor acoustic interior couldn’t suppress, everyone of the players had in the music scene, been there and had the scars to prove it. They enjoyed what they were doing and played and sang each of the well known songs with the talent and expertise as the label said, ALL STARS.

For myself it was seeing for real David Pick Withers behind a drum kit, I wrote the lyrics for the Dire Straits Album in 1975 that is now some 40 years ago. I’ve only seen Mark Knopfler and John Illsley as solo artists, maybe if I can get to a David Knopfler gig I will have actually seen for the first time the Dire Straits line up.

Mark Knopfler said he could see himself as a old man on stage playing the blues, and happily doing a Tommy Cooper and keeling over into the Great Rock Hall of Fame in the heavens. Well I can assure him none of the All Stars arrived by Private Jet, and I think they set up their gear themselves and carried the equipment from the boot of their cars.

Maybe just the thought of that heavy lifting, micro waves, ovens, would put that type of demise well of the radar for him, and anyway he’s now into the Folk scene, or as he says returned. Well I came late into the Folk scene just as it was finishing in1963, even with Newcastle being behind the rest of the music scene only having the Animals and a few more good Rhythm and Blues groups. The Knopfler brothers must have been the youngest Folk singers in a scene that was becoming defunct in the pubs and throughout the country, in fact David must have still been at school, and Mark being a few years younger than me would not have been eighteen and not allowed into these dens of heavy drinking Folk circles.

Then of course there’s the story about the pub Mark said he used to frequent in Newcastle, where a stunned regular shocked at the revelation stated, ” Ive been coming into that bar for thirty years, and Ive never seen him in there,”…

Don’t tell me even that’s just another story, he also said David Pick Withers friend because of the poverty both he Mark Knopfler who was working as Lecturer, and John Illsley the Bankers son and owner of a Music shop, and poor David Knopfler a Social Worker were living in at Deptford.  Well since it was myself who suggested the name Dire Straits, if a band was ever formed, and I’d never met David Pick Withers until the The British Blues Band night, though I’d like to be a friend of his, surely its not another Knopfler myth.

Maybe the guy in the pub was too busy listening to David Knopfler singing folk songs in the snug bar, that he didn’t notice Mark downing the Newcastle Browns in the bar, NO I’m just getting the Blues maybe Mark will return to his dream, it is a dream Mark isn’t it.

Dire Straits when they were Dire Straights

The Dire Straits True Story has just passed its fifth anniversary, and were still waiting for a response from Mark Knopfler or John Illsley, or their Lawyers? Of course as a over obsessed John Illsley fan stated “Why would a Elephant, be bothered about a mouse,”he obviously hadn’t read the story. Just like Mark and John Illsley hadn’t banked on the internet, if it was still travel and just the telephone the truth about my part in Dire Straits would probably never have got the time of day, a bit like Mathew Fisher and a Whiter Shade of Pale. And all he had was the telephone and it took him thirty years to get justice, and I’m sure the internet was the reason his voice was eventually heard.

However there was a time in 1976 when David and Mark Knopfler were real brothers in arms, not the rich and unhappy estranged strangers they have become. They had even written a song together and actually shared the lyric writing, [Whats the matter with you baby] was a joint effort by the Knopfler’s. [Real girl]was another song lyric that was taken of the first Dire Straits album as was [ Eastbound Train,[ leaving just the lyrics I had written when the album was released in 1978….

It also was a time when Mark Knopfler didn’t take the credit for writing the songs, though it would have been tooreal girl obvious if [Whats the matter baby] had lyrics by David and Mark Knopfler, and David Knopfler had written [Sacred Loving][Eastbound Train] and [Real girl] lyrics by Mark Knopfler, then it would be strange if ooythe rest of the album had songs by Mark Knopfler.

So really even as far back as that David Knopfler was being subjected to some dodgy dealings by his brother and John Illsley, who had not mentioned to him my part in Dire Straits. A secret that according to David Knopfler he knew nothing about until 2006 when I got in touch with him, for Mark had to be contacted through the Brewers Droop website, so I sent the fateful email about my part in Dire Straits to a brother who really was innocent to his bigger brothers skulduggery with Illsley and all behind his back for all of those years, and he still calls Illsley his friend. David if you read this and you were upset about not having your songs and lyrics put on any of your brothers future albums, [Communique] [Love over Gold] ha ha[Making Movies] it was because you were not part of the gang of two. Now its myself whose getting the silent treatment from two Straights, whose treatment of yourself has been Dire.

press1 straights tickey wanted illsley

Dire Straits Album thank you Robert Allan

Robert Allan Dire Straits SolicitorRobert Allan is the Lawyer who guided Dire Straits into a millionaire class band, after the success of their first album, Dire Straits, in the late 70s until Brothers in Arms 1985.

When a new contract was drawn up in 1985, the name Robert Marshal was written out. The deal I had with Mark Knopfler and John Illsley that my share would be put into a company called Straitjacket Music suddenly disappeared and became another puzzle, that in later years would come back to haunt all the conspirators including Robert Allan.

Having contacted a young American Solicitor who had been part of the team drawing up the new contract in 1985. I explained my part to him in writing the lyrics in the Dire Straits and of course Brothers in Arms albums, instead of being surprised or questioning this revelation, like a lot of Mark Knopfler fans do. He seemed rather excited about my return into the fold of being the one who was instrumental in the making of the band Dire Straits?

He immediately sent me the email address and phone number of Robert Allan, however I’d failed to tell him that the reason I’d contacted him, was because Thank You Robert Allan was being rather hesitant about answering my letters, and since he the American Solicitor had helped Allan with the new contract, did the name Robert Marshal strike a chord, and obviously it did.

My letters to Robert Allan must have hit his conscience for he eventually did contact me, but I wont be saying thank you Robert Allan, though he didn’t need the answer, but its hard to turn your back on someone whose made you a fortune and a reputation, eh Mark eh John.IMG_0184IMG_0185 (2)
















Intellectual Property Laws in Britain are as antiquated to the Romans arrival on the shores of England and calling it Britannia.

In the 18th and probably the 19th centuries it was settled by a few rounds of bare knuckle fighting, or in a more serious manner with Pistols or Swords on a cold early morning.

I didn’t even give Intellectual Property Laws a thought when I first went to a Solicitor in Bristol. John Illsley and I had spoken of how I’d contact him if the band became a success, it would be a simple letter from a respected Lawyer telling Illsley it was the real Robert Marshal who was trying to get in touch.

However the Bristol Solicitors took it into their heads to send citations to nearly everyone who had been part of Dire Straits the band, and my letter of introduction to Illsley was put in the bin. Being so many miles away from their office in Bristol,this was all being done without my say so, even though it was my money the sharks had got their teeth into a piece of fresh flesh and were not letting go.

They sent the citations out to the individual band members Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley, Pick Withers, Guy Fletcher, Jack Sonni, I even think Danny Cummings was included. The list of names became almost endless and the pile of Citations was massive, and it was all done without my approval.

The address the Solicitors sent them to, sent them back unopened saying Return to Sender address unknown, they didn’t even know how to contact the people on the list of Citations. And this procedure of sending them out and then having them returned to their office in Bristol, went on and on draining my capital and convincing me I’d met the Key Stone Cops of Solicitors.

To the Bristol Solicitors relieve and to my horror a guy called Denis O’shea from Boscombe in Hampshire, Illsley’s territory, put his hand up and said he would accept the Citations. Who is Denis O’shea and what connection does he have with Dire Straits or any of the band members, none, he is a friend of someone who worked for John Illsley, and that was where the Citations were sent.

The Bristol Solicitors having got shot of their Citations, immediately snapped closed their briefcases with my money, said they’d done their bit as it was getting a bit to heavy for them and retired to the restaurants and bars of Bristol to spend it.

I contacted Denis O’shea who is a dupe in a duplicity set up by John Illsley’s friend, a gentleman who was taken advantage of for being sincere, and trusting someone he thought was a friend. You know how to pick us John so is it fists or Pistols at Dawn, I don”t think you’ve got the bottle even to apologise to Mr O’shea.




Mark Knopflers Song to be played at the Edinburgh Tattoo


Mark Knopfler says he has had a long time interest in the British Army, of course that’s because of Brothers in Arms, the song he played to my lyrics. If Knopfler or Illsley had been in the armed forces, and knew how to live the life of a soldier, they would have a greater respect for a comrade whose lyrics promoted them to wealth and position?

Had this been the French Foreign Legion and they’d done that to one of their own, the fingers that Mark uses to pluck the strings of the guitar would be missing. As for Illsley’s contempt for a comrade and his habitual plundering of the monies that I made, it would be the whole hand he would have had taken from him.

The long time interest I have with the Edinburgh Tattoo, is that I with many of my comrades in the Royal Scots, The Cameronians, Kings Own Scottish Borderers, all now defunct, marched with pride down the castles esplanade to the massed pipe and drums of the Highland Regiments.

I have been introduced to Field Marshal Montgomery on Her Majesty The Queens Birthday parade, an honour indeed for me to have spoken to the great man. Another great soldier was R.S.M. Smith of the Coldstream Guards, whose voice was reckoned to be the loudest in the British Army, and who would have had Illsley and Knopfler quick march straight to the clink for their misdemeanors, not be praised for taking credit for something they didn’t write.

That is why I’m all in favor of National Service, it shapes characters and brings out the best in you, it also gives you a identity and a goal to reach for. Something they obviously don’t teach you at the public school John Illsley attended, or painting. Plagiarism and bullying were definitely on the timetable. And this was quite notable the bullying part I mean when I was at the 1oo club to see him and Grieg Pearle perform. He didn’t even have the gumption to ask me to leave the after drinks party, as I was obviously making him look small in front of his admirers, who were asking him who I was. That the six foot four coward put the onus on some guy who didn’t have a scooby of what was going on to ask me to leave, as he slithered away into the crowd, if I’d known then what his game was. I would not have been the group called the Aftermath, it would have been Illsley who would have had a Aftermath. And probably still have, he spent two years lying on a couch having therapy to convince him I didn’t exist, if he feels like another few year on his back I will certainly oblige him. Another lack in that private schooling that breeds gutless people, and to think the guy says he has cancer, is there nothing not even a illness like that to get this guy to tell the truth.

I’m sure there will be quite a few ex military and serving armed forces members who are Dire Straits fans, so from a comrade in arms to another, lets get the true Dire Straits Story from a couple of chancer’s. I want a musical festival at Dunnoter Castle, starting with a Dire Straits Re-union, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and a host of rock stars, and Mark Knopfler and John Illsley can help pay for it. A Tattoo of rock stars and helping serving soldiers and those who need our help, so come on Mark put your money where your mouth is you said your commitment for the Tank boys goes far back, lets see if it goes as far back as your wallet.

Mark Knopfler Cancels two Shows for Human Rights


Mark Knopfler has cancelled two gigs in Russia claiming he is doing it on behalf of Human Rights? I’m all for it, but does peoples Rights not start at home, and does that not include the Rights of the lyricist who wrote the Dire Straits lyrics, to have a Right to be adequately reimbursed from the wealth his lyrics brought the band. If you are going to stand up for peoples Civil Liberties, you have to believe in them, and make sure that your clear of all sins relating to them. You cannot go preaching about some other countries injustices when your doing them yourself in this country.? And as for claiming you were a pupil at Bearsden Primary school, which you probably were, they were taught to say,”They nicked it,” not “I plagiarized it,” get a grip Mark your not a Glaswegian, and you will never be a Scot, for we believe in Human Rights and Civil Liberties, and seemingly you don’t.

Mark Lawson V Mark Knopfler

Well if you had to sit through a hour of bluff about Dire Straits the beginning of a super group, Mark Knopfler did it with the ease of a professional spinner. If there is one Dire Straits fan that still believes Knopfler wrote the lyrics of Wild West, End Down South Again, Six Blade Knife, or any other lyric related to the first Dire Straits Album I’d advice them to stick their head down the toilet.

The guff that Knopfler came out with apart from Money for Nothing, which I wrote about him and Illsley, was the truth Sailing to Philadelphia he wrote and he made sure to get away from anything I had written within minutes of the interview, as though the first Dire Straits album had never existed.

Now remember that album was their first and should have been the most spoken about, was it like hell it was. He stammered and second thought every question like a thief being interviewed by the police. If you get blisters working in a white goods store, change your job, even

Mark Lawson knew he was being lied too, us Scots are amiable characters until we get ripped off, and if a Geordie is running about wearing a kilt its because he stole it from a Scotsman, just like you Mark? You gave us a lesson on how to evade the truth, but the only person you were kidding was yourself and it does not suit you.

mark_lawson2_140x140If money and fame means so much to you, why don’t you just tell the truth about my part in Dire Straits, or did you lose you morality when the pound notes flooded in.


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