Mark Knopfler the Bob Dylan Con

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Mark Knopfler has just had his 67th birthday, that is 45 years he’s been in the music scene with Dire Straits and as a solo artist.

When I got in touch with him in 2006, I thought that was when the con-men part of Knopfler and Illsley’s characters had started, because obviously they didn’t want to share either the money their friendship, or their experiences with me.

In fact it had started in 1979 when Bob Dylan had heard the music and the lyrics of the Dire Straits album, Bobs a wordsmith a poet and he’d heard something he liked.

I’d been into Dylan from the early sixties, he spoke of things I could relate with, times were hard, but Bob said they were changing, and my mates who all played the guitar did there damnedest to imitate the music he played while I vamped on the harmonica, and tried to get them interested in my poetry and lyrics. But who could compete in verse with Bob Dylan, and being a poet is like a seer looking into the future, and your always looking for people who share that gift.

So what happened when Mark Knopfler got the invite from Dylan to meet him, it wasn’t because like him Knopfler’s a Jew, it was because he liked what he’d heard on the Dire Straits album, and thought he’d found another writer and seer. So did Knopfler come clean and tell Bob Dylan that he hadn’t written the lyrics but he could probably get in touch with Robert Marshal the guy who had. Not on your life the conman took the great man on and probably like all the times he was asked about that album, he acted the quiet man n0t wanting any praise for the gift of having such a talent to write such great lyrics.

Their was however one bit of reality that came out of the meeting with Bob Dylan, Dave Pick Withers who also was obviously conned into believing Mark Knopfler had written the lyrics on the Dire Straits  album, got the job of drumming on Dylan’s Slow Train album, while Illsley and Knopfler just continued to be a couple of Sultans of Swing.


Mark and David Knopfler Communique



It was 2006 when I got in touch with David Knopfler and though our conversations have been slightly reserved I thought by now he’d have got the message that I’d wrote the lyrics of the Dire Straits album. However I see in a interview in 2013 he’s still saying Dave Pick Withers came up with the idea of naming the band Dire Straits even though Pick wasn’t even there at the time the band was formed. I know that David was miffed about not having his own lyrics included into any of the albums, but honestly I don’t know where they would have fitted in, Dire Straits was a rock band and as David has said his thread was folk, and his only solo gigs were with the boy Scouts. I think he was a really lucky fella letting his older brother Mark lead the band musically, but again David when I once asked you about the lyrics of Dire Straits the album you stuck to the story of assuming Mark had written them though his previous lyrics bore not a sliver of originality to them, so I’m going to include a review written about Communique the album some fans think was written for me to get in touch ie [ You don’t have to worry about the previous release,] I’d have thought there was a easier way to communicate so here is the review.

Whenever somebody says, “That Dire Straits album is the most boring shit,” I say”You must have confused that one with Communique,”. Seriously though Dire Straits second album was a great disappointment. The album doesn’t make the band any new friends and the old ones had to dig in, Communique is nothing but a pale carbon copy of the bands debut. First of all I’m disappointed with the lyrics, where the lyrics on the Dire Straits album were very much subject orientated , drawing vivid and impressive images of a dark depressing London, this is intimate and personnel and far from what everyone can identify with, what the hell is Once upon a time in the West all about. Not that the lyrics are bad, but this deeply rooted pseudo mystical attitude is not what I’d have expected, some say he was influenced by Dylan, but I prefer him singing,”French kisses in the darkened doorway,”. How can a Dire Straits album sound so diverse from the debut. Whats worse is Communique is full of recycling, and what in hell is “Lady Writer,”. Again I reiterate that none of these defects are enough to condemn the record its when you suddenly realize while the form is the same, the breathtaking magic has evaporated, I wonder why David I wonder why.

[Excerpts from George Starostins review Dire Straits]


I know a lot of reviews rate Communique due to Marks guitar playing, but that’s his department mines was lyrics and its reviews that mention them I’m interested in. And I’d again ask Mark Knopfler to give the Dire Straits fans what they want before we all get to old a return to Dire Straits and a reunion.

In Communique Mark Knopfler neglects his duty as a songwriter, and focuses on other facets of the bands sound, forgetting that the songwriting on any album is the most crucial department of all. Much of the atmospherics  sound lifeless and flaccid caused by rudimentary melodies.

Even the LYRICS are a step down from Dire Straits eponymous debut album, coming across as basic and derivative. The album seems to be a bastardize remake of the debut, yielding predictably tepid results compared to the first album, its lacking in the substance that made the Dire Straits album a undisputed classic.?

Review by Evansrock

Dire Straits Straitjacket Music ( Songs)







I was asked recently what is Straitjacket Music (Songs) and someone else told me to contact the Harry Fox Agency as they were against plagiarism in the music business and had big bucks to back up those who had been ripped off.

Straitjacket Music was to be set up for Mark Knopflers music, and seemingly that’s what he did in the 1970s, for I received a email from Jeff Tucker, (Photo above) an American Musician and Singer. Who told me he had recorded two of Knopflers songs Romeo and Juliet, and Once Upon a time in the West, that was in 1980 and the rights of the recording was Straitjacket Music. But guess who was the administrator in the United States of Straitjacket Music, the Harry Fox Agency.?

Before I had this information I’d actually contacted someone in the Harry Fox Agency and they had a look at what I’d written, I was a bit disappointed when it was all they did, for I believed they would have taken my case up with Knopfler and Illsley, but I suppose when your agency is the distributor and have the recording rights, maybe it was prudent to back off, but definitely not kosher or as they claim on the side of those being ripped off.

Straitjacket songs was for the lyrics, and since Mark Knopfler was singing the songs he would have a percentage in the royalties, however when Robert Allan the Dire Straits Lawyer drew up a new contract for the music and lyric rights, Straitjacket Music seemed to vanish into one off Mark Knopflers back pockets, only to reappear to pay the five million for the building of the Grove Music Studios. Its also interesting to note that John Illsley has lost his position as Secretary of Straitjacket Songs, and been replaced by Mark Knopflers wife Kitty Aldridge, could it be Mark is coming back into the real world where it was the Dire Straits fans that made him so popular and rich and helped by a few lyrics from myself whether it be Straitjacket Songs or Music.

Robert Marshal Bay City Rollers Dire Straits








The Bay City Rollers were playing at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 the same year I met Mark Knopfler and John Illsley. I was a conductor at the time on the number 11 bus, we were the last bus back into the city, and at the terminus at Hammersmith the fans from the gig were just a horde of tartan clad spirits screaming their love for the five lads from Edinburgh. That soon changed into a obsessed baying for blood when my driver decided he’d seen enough and sped away from the terminus without stopping to  pick up a passenger. As hundreds of them chased after us it looked from the open deck at the back of the bus, like a scene from a zombie film as we were pursued by some pretty fit teenagers?

It seems like us Edinburgh boys are susceptible to meeting those who want to use or talents, but want to pocket the profits we bring them so Illsley and Knopfler to me just fit in nicely with Tam Paton, the manager of the Bay City Rollers. Paton’s father had a haulage firm in Musselburgh a town just outside Edinburgh that delivered sacks of potato’s, he also enjoyed the company of teenage boys and always having money to spend he was never without a young admirer from the rent boys of Edinburgh.

I came across him in a late night dance venue in Wallyford, he was dressed in a light blue suit and wearing cowboy boots and a  stetson hat. Most of us were still in our teens and he looked completely out of place, of course he could have been giving the live bands a once over, but he wasn’t into the music business at that time. And his intentions were made clear when my mate ended up taking him outside and setting about him after being propositioned, all I remember is seeing the stetson flying in the air and the blue suit changing colour as they rolled about in the muddy grass outside the gig. If I’d known he would turn out to be a rip off merchant and leave the five Bay City Rollers without the money they were entitled too, he’d have got a few punches from me as well.

I’d like to say its great to see the boys together again, but the scars are deep when you get a using like that, when their lives should have been one of having no money worries after their break up it wasn’t, but unlike Ken Buchanan Edinburgh’s world champion boxer who can’t remember which bank he deposited his money in, the Bay City Rollers know where theirs went straight into Tam Paton’s pocket, I wonder if 1975 was a fatalistic year for rip offs.


Mark Knopfler [ A Disclaimer ] Robert Marshal

disDear Mark Knopfler [Dirk],

I’m surprised that you of all people, unless all the songs you write about guns are being pointed at your head, and that is the reason why you have made a point in not contacting me personally?

When I left Farrer House in Deptford after successfully compiling together the lyrics for the Dire Straits album, and those you used for the Brothers in Arms, I’d say I left you amicably and in friendship?

You listened then to my ideas and lyrics and took my advice, and it seems to have worked perfectly for you throughout your career? You then went your own way without contacting me to further our obvious success in our ability to write lyrics and songs together?

However any verbal agreements were lost when Dire Straits lyrics included East Bound Train, and others written by yourself, and the change of name to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, and there was the inclusion of Money for Nothing, that I specifically said was not to be used.

So you can see how your behaviour at the Plague unveiling at Farrer House in Deptford just demeaned everything we had achieved, that I know was instigated by John Illsley. Who I’d say was the cause of most of errors I have mentioned yet wants to continue with a verbal agreement that was broken many times, making you look rather timid and foolish.?

And considering the band Dire Straits was my idea, and you did use my lyrics, you’d have thought in 2006 when I again made contact with you, even curiosity or perhaps even the chance of having a drink with the guy who gave you stardom and fame, would have drawn you away from the game you and Illsley are playing to meet someone who has only given and yet asked for nothing?

Then when you consider it was definitely more than the million pounds, you hoped to get through the music industry, you left the gift horse for a shower of suits that my monies pay for, so with that in mind Mark, I give you the chance to regain my respect and so I therefore offer you a Disclaimer for which I want to be recompensed for helping with your career.


Robert Marshal

Dire Straits Who Wrecked the Straights?

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Who was it that destroyed Dire Straits a band that could have been as popular as the Beatles, why change or lose the line up of Mark and David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers. Who convinced Mark Knopfler to change the bands name to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, who then would be Dire Straits David Knopfler John Illsley and Pick Withers? John Illsley said, ” It was him that told David Knopfler his time with Dire Straits was over,” in fact I think he told him to , “Fuck Off,” not a nice thing to say to someone who claims he was one of the Founders of the band, and Mark allowed it to happen, in my family Illsley would have been decked and a new bass player brought into the group. It seems that John Illsley has taken quite a active part in assuming the role of spokesman for Mark Knopfler, and in my own case he has even told Mark Knopfler how to act in my presence. So in my mind Illsley comes out as the Boss of the outfit, and who is he minding his own self, he had no professional experience in a band and his business dealings are Bob Cotten..rotten, and Ive listened to his music and read his lyrics. He complained he had to spend 30,000 grand to produce Greg Pearles lyrics and music, he’d have had to spend the 15 million he somehow acquired through his time with Dire Straits to get his own into the charts. So is it Illsley who has filled Mark Knopflers head with the rubbish that breaks up a successful line up of artists that includes his brother David, and then probably forced Dave Pick Withers, the only true professional in the group to follow David Knopfler, and leaving who, let me guess, John call me your friend Illsley, and the hooked Mark Knopfler. Its strange really for Ive been working with someone with those exact qualities, and the list of artists they use are like obituaries to their own lack of securities. There was another problem with David Knopfler he’d been a Social Worker and that takes in quite a few Academic disciplines, like integrity and a quality to improve life, for five years he had believed his brother Mark had written the lyrics for the first Dire Straits album,  [Or that is what he told me,]. It was now three albums later and the lyrics I had written to show Knopfler how I wrote Folk lyrics, apart for Money for Nothing, were about to be brought out from their hiding place and become the Brothers in Arms album. Would DAVID FALL FOR IT A SECOND TIME, I don’t think so there were three albums of lyrics his brother had written since the D.S. ALBUM and there was no similarity at all, Les Boys, Twisting by the Pool you’ve got to be joking, and now the younger brother was going to be shocked by a completely different Album with folk lyrics mastered into  a genre of rock  what I think was a very clever con trick. Could David have been fooled if he’d been there would Pick Withers have seen through Illsley and Mark Knoplers deception, it wasn’t the fans they were conning it was David Knopfler, and in time myself.

Who was it that wanted David Knopfler excluded from knowing about my part in Dire Straits, it certainly wasn’t me, the only person I was worried about finding out I’d written the lyrics was the Censor especially with my background, about that I will go into later. Why was it when Mark took my lyrics to the Copywriters Office, it was David the innocent who accompanied him, which made the younger Knopfler a conspirator in fraud if the intentions were to plagiarize the lyrics, the lyrics I had written, or did Mark Knopfler not know he was involving his younger brother in what is a criminal offense. Once again John Edward Illsley seems to be a good few steps in front of the Knopfler brothers, he was present during the time I wrote the lyrics in Farrer House, he actually read them as they were written acting like a old schoolmaster checking your homework. Then if he and Mark had failed to inform David that someone else had written the lyrics, or about my idea about the formation of a band called Dire Straits, if a witness was needed at the Copyrights office or if Mark needed support it should have been the bankers son John Illsley who gave it. For in reality if charges of theft are brought by me for the monies due to me and the return of my intellectual property, it will be the Knopflers who would stand trial, Illsley would be watching the trial from the Gallery some friend, and talk about getting a using.

There’s some who say I was naive for allowing Knopfler and Illsley to use my ideas and lyrics and not contact them, but I’d made a decision that any further dealings with them would have come through them, some fans say the album Communique was that message, but that’s like listening to the lyrics of a record in reverse, and in the 80s it wasn’t so hard to find someone?

I had a few reasons for keeping my distance, my main one as David Knopfler and the Social Services, the Government and Law Courts, and the Police are reluctant to tell the public, once you have committed a Criminal offense in this country, your future in the Arts in Sport, Education the Law or any of the structures within society where your opinion may influence people, especially children who may want to follow in your footsteps, is a no goer no matter how gifted you are, so don’t break the Law kids.

So actually the Knopfler family should be thanking me for guiding the two brothers into the music scene, and away from the temptations of making a million pounds through drugs or fraudulent crimes, and don’t be fooled in thinking that after you have done the time the slate gets wiped clean. My reputation had been tarnished before I was a teen in a catch 22 situation, and though I was innocent of the more serious crime, I had been playing truancy from school when the crime was committed, that gave the Sheriff  the opportunity to make his decision through probabilities, if he was wrong in his judgement on one of the offenses he was right on the other. And it was the first time I’d been in trouble with the Law, and I was sentenced to a grade D Approved School that would haunt me throughout my life. If John Illsley and Mark Knopfler had been straights, the monies I’d have expected to receive for my part in Dire Straits would have been used to clear my name, instead its been used to tarnish theirs, catch 22 or what.

Even before I met the noble John Illsley, I knew how high I could climb up the ladder of success, before the press or someone who knew me blew my background, that was the reason I used to write under so many Nom de Plumes, even some of the jobs I worked at were under someone elses name. Even my mother wouldn’t take a penny of the money I’d got for my Edinburgh Novel, because the cheque didn’t have my real name on it. And apart from having a phobia about having my photo taking, and a stigma of being pointed at by the public when in the Approved School, I never wanted to be a rock star where I’d never know if the fans were saying he’s good, or he’s been in jail, so any thoughts of her Majesty pinning a O.B.E. on my leather jacket was out.

Though you have to remember through John Illsley and especially Mark Knopfler, the amount of money through Dire Straits that has been generously donated to Charities, and you can bet your life on whose money it was, yours truly, so if you read this your Majesty remember not all of us bad boys are all that bad. Oh and there’s the Knopflers divorces I have had to pay for, their children’s educations, no wonder they don’t want to give me my money, the list is endless I have done some ghost writing but a ghost money bank never.

Which brings it back to the ghost of David Knopfler, he now knows about my part in Dire Straits, he also knows his brother and Illsley were pulling his strings, they allowed him to think he with them had founded Dire Straits when in fact it had been founded before David was given the job as rhythm guitarist. I bonded with Mark Knopfler he is something special, but what made him change from mister nice guy. He told me when Illsley was becoming obtuse and showing the bullying and jealous side of his character to me, that he Mark could handle him, are you sure Mark were you sure you could, its split your family and a great band.

Illsley knows the meaning of cynicism, like using one brother against another, or for that matter using Mark against me who has done nothing against any of them, and he’s so wrapped up in his own personnel survival everybody has to suffer. Maybe it was caused through the multiple operations he had when he was a child, maybe its the scars of his childhood, who knows but what he should know are our feelings towards him, and its those scars he has to heal.

I said to him in house at Deptford, if you become famous you may not want to know me, and if I didn’t make it big in my life to ignore me, maybe he doesn’t think my making a super group called Dire Straits was a big thing for he definitely doesn’t want to know me, Its just a pity the Knopfler boys cannot see or have been blinkered and don’t want to see what or who wrecked not only Dire Straits, but there own family if they do, they may come back to the truth and loving each other.

And now the truth of the Citations my Lawyers sent to each of the members of Dire Straits comes to the fore, now we know if the case had gone to Court it would have been Mark and David who would have been the guilty parties to Plagiarizing my lyrics. But it was John Illsley who was supposedly acting on their behalf, and by accepting the citations took the heat away from the Knopflers, and I have the proof that he burned the evidence. If I’d known that when we met at St James, we wouldn’t be waiting to go to the Law Courts. It would have been the Crown Court, come on John Edward Illsley take me to Court or give me my money.

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.