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.

The John Illsley Legacy

Andy Greene writing for the Rolling Stone Magazine made a profound statement when he said, with Mark Knopfler not even showing up when Dire Straits were inducted into the Rock an Roll Hall of Fame did this mean he’d finished with the band that had brought him wealth and fame globally.

But surely if you have decided on something as massive as this, that gave you a career and taken up so much of your time, you cannot just scrap the group take up as solo performer playing Folk music, and turn your back on the Rock industry and the fans. When I first met Mark Knopfler he stood behind a couch that Illsley was sitting on kidding on he was reading a book for a exam he was about to take at the Brubeck College that he and Mark were attending as Mature students. And for some reason that stunned Illsley, and made me question his motives, he told me Illsley was his brother, but the way Knopfler has acted so ungraciously to the fans of Dire Straits, and the way Illsley brushed me aside giving a two fingered salute for everything I’d done for them, I’d say they were joined at the hip and twins.

So are the twins really surprised that they themselves are now being ripped of, by the same minded people who can see there is money to be made from Knopfler and Illsley’s lack of humanities, a course that Illsley was studying for that seems to have gone a wry as their fall from grace proves, and in steps the Vultures, that for some reason upsets John Illsley. Why because some of his former employees or band members are about to go on tour calling their band Dire Straits, then sensibly as a afterthought add Legacy just in case Mark comes out of his echo trip, and with our differences settled, show this group of chancers who owns Dire Straits.

John Illsley the person I blame for the break up and downfall of Dire Straits the band and its reputation, stated in the Rolling Stone or whined, I said to them, if you are going to do that, I take it he means Clarke and co calling the group Dire Straits, will you please call the band something else, it would be like some people getting together and calling themselves the Stones or the Floyd, you can’t really do that, you were members of the band for a while, but you don’t own the name, can you please call it something else.

What a hypocrite, and neither do you Illsley, or Mark Knopfler, I gave the band its name and that is why the Legacy or any other tribute band can call their group Dire Straits, and its because of your underhand dealings they can do it, and until you and Mark recognize the major part I played in Dire Straits and stop this idiocy, you will find the same lack of respect that you showed to me, will come back to haunt you.

You have already ruined Mark’s reputation in the music industry, and he is a talented musician, while you are just a impostor a jack of all trades a master of none, and that was said by a gallery owner where your paintings were hidden in a corner of his studio, so I’m really glad to see you are now getting your comeuppances for the rotten way you have treated people, and I can name a few.

You once claimed and I have it in writing with your signature, that you took offence at being called a Plagiarist, if you weren’t one Illsley, the Plagiarists that are now Plagiarizing you wouldn’t be getting away with it, makes you think doesn’t it. Robert


Mark Knopfler Announcement Soon

That is the communication being flouted on the Amarkintime website, and the conspiracies of what that means is being speculated like a dog with a bone. If Mark Knopfler has something to say, he’s taken a very long time to say it. When I came out with my part in the formation of Dire Straits, it was reckoned by the fans, Mark would have something to say about that, and my claim would be erased by his rich and famous lawyers, instead he said nothing, and by his silence the fans were left with the fact that I was telling the truth. For a rock star he has not only neglected his army of followers, but the public in General, his father came to this country as a refugee fleeing from the Nazi’s, and made his home in Scotland,and we the Scots trusted him and his family to be like us, where the doors were open and where we learned to help and share with our neighbours. I’m afraid Mark has taken the John Illsley bankers son aptitude of what’s mine is mine and I’m keeping it. But to put that type of disgraceful thinking into reality, no its not yours or Illsley’s it belongs too, I wrote the lyrics and gave the band the name of Dire Straits, so the bankers son is a twister, and the son of a refugee is a accomplice? And if that’s their mind set in come the other Vultures to pick the body clean, instead of being paid for the Royalties for coming up with the idea of Money for Nothing, the lyrics I wrote are being plagiarized by television companies who know Knopfler wont dispute the case, and there are plenty of them doing it. So we can see why those refugee’s and immigrants who have come into this and other countries, are looked upon with suspicion when one of our greatest musicians has allowed his reputation to be belittled by his so called friend, when he has so more to lose, no you cannot polish a doo doo Mark, but it can be flushed down the toilet with the rest of the shite, and is that your only announcement, I’d say your going to retire and hope you can make a living from the studio you bought from my money, and I’m in no doubt that you and Illsley claim the Government pension of 150 pounds and the 200 cold weather payment. I honestly don’t know why you contacted me, unless it was just to humiliate me for some reason that I know nothing about, but its back fired something I’d say Illsley is used too, however your character must definitely be having self issues, remember he was the straight and not in our game, and now your going to be like a thief in the night and scuttle away, with whats left of the loot, eh pal. Robert pensionpension

John Illsley A Jealous Guy

Most of the photo’s that were taken at the Plaque unveiling outside the house in Deptford have been well  scrutinized by Illsley, and any crowd scenes have been  scrapped in case I was seen talking to Mark Knopfler, which might be used in evidence. However he  couldn’t erase them all and guess who he is  glaring at, yes me, and its the same threatening look I got from him when Mark had gone out of the room, and he warned me that, ” Mark was his property, and I’d better back of or else,” ?. And he did that twice, until the look on my face told Mark there had been trouble between myself and I take it his boyfriend, and I wasn’t going to put up with a jealous guy. He told me he could handle the six foot four Illsley, and I took him literally and we proceeded to go on writing the lyrics for the Dire Straits album, even though when ever I looked in Illsley’s direction, just like the photo on the left, his eyes were boring into me and its not a pretty sight.?

When I realized after quite a while of sending emails to Mark, that they didn’t want to know how I was, but were waiting on me sending lyrics to them, and that was why they’d answered my email, and wanted Lyrics for Nothing without a meeting. That’s when I began asking myself why would these two guys who have had all this success and money through my lyrics and ideas, not want to see me. The first thought that came to mind was, I’d not paid Mark for the three lines of Cocaine I’d sniffed up my nose, and he was so in need of the fifteen quid I’d left him in Dire Straits. Then I thought of Illsey’s jealousy and that got nearer to the truth especially with what had happened to David Knopfler, not even the guys brother was safe from Illsley and his over obsessional feelings about Mark, in fact he’s a control freak, even trying to set up David and myself to keep me away from Mark.?

However another thought came to mind, as I was leaving the flat Mark said to Illsley, ” He doesn’t think hes going to be in the band,” so I retorted back that he cannot write lyrics, and after reading a article written by Bill Forsyth, Im beginning to believe my words must have stung the young Mark Knopfler’s ego, but what about my feelings pal, do they not count, and of course your brothers, you must know by now Illsley mixed it for him, and he’s still at it now, and still a Jealous Guy. Robert.

Down the Road Wherever

Just the naming of the album Down the Road …….Wherever, sounds to me as if a bored person had been coerced into doing something they didn’t want to do, and were being forced to add something to the title of a album someone else had come up with, and added Whatever and it was changed to Wherever. And considering the lyrics and musical content all seem to be in Guy Fletcher’s name, with one track alone being Mark Knopfler, to call this HAM SANDWICH of a album a Mark Knopfler album is just another example of bad management and poor judgement of choosing your friends.

When this album was released, it had taken three years for the maestro to do so, and in that time he could have contacted me and brought this stupidity to a end, instead he has sulked and hidden away in the hope this nightmare his friend John Illsley has caused by turning his back on the person who had written the lyrics of the Dire Straits album continues. And Mark’s reputation slumps as does his album sales, D.T.R.W. reached no 17 in the charts then fell to 61 staggered back down to 59 and vanished into the mists of a has been, and as it disappeared it past Private Investigations Dire Straits propped up by Sultans of Swing lyrics by Robert Marshal holding strong for months in the charts? The money from this album keeping Illsley in pocket money and the Knopflers in a life style, through their ingratitude and obvious ignorance to wanting to know about my well being, they obviously do not deserve.

Ive watched more Scrooge movies this Christmas on T.V. that I as a child went to see in the Cinema, and as Knopfler and Illsley are only two years younger than me, and must have seen it to. But I seem to see old Scrooge as a tyrant deserving to get the ghosts of the past to give him his just deserts, and the old miser repents and starts anew by seeing his faults and sharing his good fortune on those who helped him to achieve his wealth. The difference between that Scrooge and Illsley and Knopfler and co, that old miser didn’t need the help of the fans to keep his business afloat, and when you lose the fans trust, you have lost their respect. In a recent interview on the radio in Scotland Mark said, he had now found humility, but its the truth and honesty the fans want from him. He listened to me once before and the history of a band called Dire Straits was started, he for some reason has chosen to ignore me, and like Scrooge is meeting the ghosts of time gone past. So lets us see if the Ghost of the NEW YEAR to COME, remembering  he does say he’s Scottish, changes him back to being a Mr Nice Guy, who with his new found humility seeks out the friends from his past who care about him and his career and can help him recover from the Scrooge addiction, before he all he sees in the Albert Hall are the ghosts of fans that were and empty seats.

Ken Bruce Mark Knopfler and Friends

Though I only caught the last part of the Ken Bruce show with Mark Knopfler, it proved to me he hasn’t yet lost his sense of humour, and that he knows or reads what I write about him. In my blog I stated he should be singing,” If I were a Rich Man,” a song about a Jewish immigrants dream in a country where there is hope to prosper if you have the talent and are willing to be guided towards that goal, by someone who though talented had already used up their own gift and handed it to you? The Boxer by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel and the line,” I’m just a poor boy,” was not exactly you Mark, and it sounded to me like you were mocking those of us, for I do not believe for a minute you know, ” Where the poorer people go,” and unlike the original lyricists of the song, who obviously did know and did care, though I know you were just having a jest, your take of a classic song and lyrics was like a saw tearing through metal.?

When you deviate away from your strengths like being a great guitarist, and try and sing a popular song made famous by two people who can sing, your heading for trouble, and I will repeat myself again, I know what you were trying to prove, and in honesty your fans would have rather heard a song from Whatever. I knew you could imitate another persons voice, and that was proved on the Dire Straits album, and you know what I’m talking about, but Mark you have got to wind yourself back, get back on that motor bike and be a Rock and Roll artist, you’ve become the Harry that I wrote about on Sultans of Swing, Rockers don’t retire Mark they fight on to the very end. ” If I were a rich man,”…

40 Years of Dire Straits

On the 6th July 1978 the Dire Straits Album was released  songs by Mark Knopfler, lyrics written by Robert Marshal and kindly reproduced by Straitjacket Songs.

The band Mark Knopfler lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist David Knopfler, bass guitarist John Illsley, drums David Pick Withers.This was the beginning of a journey into the music industry for three of the group, who would never have believed it was possible. Though there is a claim a band existed called the Cafe Racers, the only Cafe Racer was a motor bike and perhaps owned by one of the Knopflers, and the only band that played or recorded Sultans of Swing, were Dire Straits. David Pick Withers was the only member of the band who was a professional musician, the youngest player David Knopfler was working for The Social Work Department in London and sharing a one bedroom house South of the Thames in Deptford with John Illsley, who was a mature student at Goldsmiths College, and when Mark Knopfler arrived in London he became a student at the same College and joined the other two at the house in Deptford.

Mark Knopfler and Illsley were both at a age 25 that was to old to join a punk band, though Illsley used to invite young would be punk guitarists back to the house on a Tuesday, and as already quoted to mainly tune their guitars, so any thoughts of forming a band were never in reality within their sights or capabilities. You can Jam till your fingers bleed but it takes something everyone can join in on that doesn’t have any of their stamps on it to make them jell together equally, and that was the lyrics that belonged to none of them, though only Mark Knopfler and Illsley knew the truth about who had written them, that is why even though the older Knopfler tried to include his own lyrics into the first Dire Straits album, it was more productive and prudent to just stick to those written outside the trio by Robert Marshal.

With the introduction into the group of David Pick Withers, the band was formed, and with his knowledge and contacts in the business people in the industry started taking notice, and though the band played a few gigs in Camden Town, it was in Europe where they scored their biggest fans. Punk was a English thing Rock and Roll was Universal, and the latter time of the 70s was dry of of that type of music so the Dire Straits album slotted in nicely into a niche made for their flair. Though it also started the cracks of jealousy to appear when their second album was released, this time songs and lyrics all written by Mark Knopfler, the hedonistic thread missing from the first album by having a stranger write the lyrics had gone, and the bickering and fighting for recognition had begun. Happy Birthday guys.

Dire Straits Brotherhood

They say every picture tells a story, and that you can fool the public some of the time, but not all of the time. So has Mark Freuder Knopfler O.B.E. thrown in the towel and allowed the pack of a so called brotherhood to take over his life and ruin his reputation and career. When the Beatles were given the O.B.E. it was returned because of a political gesture, so shouldn’t Mark return his as a noble gesture or share the honor with the lyricist who wrote the groups hit lyrics.

And what idiot convinced him to accept it in the first place, he says he was a lecturer, so by this act of accepting the gong it doesn’t actually seem like his ethics were honest as a educationalist, in fact the opposite to what we’d expect from one, if your allowing students to copy or say plagiarize to get a pass you shouldn’t be in the job in the first place, and of course opening yourself up to be blackmailed, so Mark give it back.

You’ve already surrounded yourself with a brotherhood of back stabbers, jealous of your fame how you play guitar, and still you call them friends, its now ten years since I tried to get to speak to you, and every time we got close, the hulking shadow of Illsley appeared and put another nail in your and my coffin. And talking about coffins Mark if the shadow thinks this blog will die with me he’s wrong I have made sure many years will pass before this story closes, unless you come clean and stop cheating with the exam papers. Its not difficult to be honest pal and I can assure you, it gets rid of all the stench and rubbish you have surrounded yourself with, it stops the lies and gets rid of the liars.

Between your music and my lyrics we gave something good to a hell of a lot of people, to see it all being exploited and turned into a mockery by a handful of your choice of friends, and you doing nothing about it only proves what Ive been saying, an O.B.E you could have been knighted, and  all concerned should have been proud to share that honor with you, but because of greed and jealousy its all gone down the drain. Illsley started this and you have allowed it to continue, your the boss pal, he’s made his money, its you who has the gift and its you who has the highest to fall.