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Dire Straits were a British rock band, formed in 1977 by former journalist and teacher Mark Knopfler, initially composed of Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), his younger brother David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion).
Dire Straits' sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band's early years, the band's stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more "rootsy" influence that emerged out of pub rock. Many of Dire Straits' compositions were melancholic.
Dire Straits' biggest selling album, Brothers in Arms, has sold over 30 million copies. They also became one of the world's most commercially successful bands, with worldwide album sales of over 120 million. Dire Straits won numerous music awards during their career, including four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards-winning Best British Group twice, and two MTV Video Music Awards. The band' most popular songs include "Sultans of Swing", "Romeo and Juliet", "Tunnel of Love", "Private Investigations", "Money for Nothing", "Walk of Life", "So Far Away", "Your Latest Trick" and "Brothers in Arms".
Dire Straits' career spanned 18 years. There were several changes in personnel over that period, leaving Mark Knopfler and John Illsley as the only two original bandmates who had remained throughout the band's career. Dire Straits disbanded in 1995 when Mark Knopfler launched his career full time as a solo artist.